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GPS for Airplane Navigation, Takeoffs and Landings

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A commercial GPS Receiver and multiple antennas were mounted on a small Cessna airplane to perform local flight tests near Stanford in the early 1990’s. The tests showed that GPS could provide aviation attitude control for en route and precision approaches at the Palo Alto airport. The tests were broadened to include local terrestrial pseudolites transmitting a GPS signal, which allowed for successful automatic landing of the Cessna. 

GPS for Airplane Navigation, Takeoffs and Landings - 2 photo collage strip

Shortly afterward the tests were broadened dramatically when the FAA provided a Boeing 737, which allowed fully automatic approach and blind landings tests in which 110 successful landings were performed. Extensive further testing was performed in other locations (Alaska, Tahoe, Atlantic City, etc.) using other aircraft.

Stanford originally received funding for this research from NASA and the FAA.

See Also: Early Research—Autonomous Aircraft

SCPNT Historical Video Clips circa 1994 - 1998

The Development & Testing of the Stanford Integrity Beacon Landing System

An 11-minute narrated video chronicling the evolution of Stanford's Integrity Beacon automated airplane landing system from GPS-based spacecraft attitude and control guidance technology developed for the Stanford/NASA landmark Gravity Probe B mission testing Albert Einstein's general theory of relativity and its extension and augmentation by a team of Stanford graduate students into a combination satellite and ground-based pseudo-satellite (integrity beacon) system that could land a Boeing 737 aircraft autonomously in inclement (restricted visibility) weather.

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This video courtesy of Stanford University Archives  

GPS/Integrity Beacon B-Roll Video Segments:

Video segments showing all aspects of the GPS-related technologies used in automated airplane navigation, takeoffs and landings in 1994. This video features the team of graduate students from the Stanford University GPS Lab who pioneered and developed these technologies.

IBLS B-Roll Video Segments - Play Video thumbnail button

This video courtesy of Stanford University Archives 

CNN and San Francisco Bay Area Television Stories:

Stanford GPS Lab auto-landing tests of a United Airlines Boeing 737 aircraft by Clark Cohen and fellow graduate students.

GPS Lab Boeing 737 Autolandings - Play Video thumbnail button