Image: Airplane cabin
Airbus and Honeywell are developing a new anti-crash technology for commercial airliners. CNBC's Diana Olick reports.
The Associated Press
updated 8/12/2003 10:09:53 AM ET 2003-08-12T14:09:53

Airbus and Honeywell International Inc. have come up with technology that would take control of airplanes to prevent them from crashing into obstacles, The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday.

THE SYSTEM WOULD link crash-warning devices, already common on airliners, with cockpit computers that could automate flying to prevent collisions, the report said, citing executives from aerospace and manufacturing company Honeywell.

Tests have shown “promising results,” The Journal said, but the idea of completely turning an airplane’s controls over to a computer is bound to make people nervous.

European airplane maker Airbus, owned by EADS and Britain’s BAE Systems, has been working on the project with Honeywell for years, and development sped up after the Sept. 11, 2001 hijacking attacks.

A prototype of the system, which could keep planes from crashing into mountains and prevent the use of aircraft as weapons, has been tested on a limited scope on small aircraft, the report said.

When audible warnings from crash-avoidance systems are ignored, the system would override actions by the pilot and make evasive maneuvers if needed, the newspaper said.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the Pentagon, and Boeing Co., a rival to Airbus, are all looking into such technology, but are not thought to be as far along as Honeywell and Airbus, The Wall Street Journal said.

Honeywell has held early-stage talks with some airlines and regulators on the issue, according to the report.

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