Silicon Valley’s plan to stop skyjackings–all of them

September 14, 2001 | Source: ZDNet AnchorDesk

A Silicon Valley entrepreneur has an idea for preventing skyjacking, using GPS and autopilot-based landing to a nearby airport.Steve Kirsch, best known as the founder of the Infoseek search engine, proposes that we install “safe mode” panic buttons that “put the plane on forced autopilot that cannot be overridden, except in special circumstances.” He’d have them mounted in the cockpit and crew areas.

Based on the location of the plane (from a GPS receiver), the system would randomly select one of the nearest airports capable of accommodating that plane type and automatically land the aircraft.

Safe mode disables on touchdown so the pilot can raise flaps, put on the brakes, and reduce the throttle. There are also schemes for dealing with false alarms, maneuvering around obstacles and weather, and notification of ATC.

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Related article: How to stop commercial air hijackings without inconveniencing air travelers by Steve Kirsch