One of the most remarkable things about Garmin Autoland is the way it transitions the instrumentation on the Garmin displays from pilot-centric to passenger-focused. The kinds of things we pilots understand intuitively when we glance at a display, things like airspeed tapes and vertical rate, are next to meaningless to a non-pilot passenger. So the key to the successful implantation of Autoland was for Garmin’s and Piper’s user experience engineers to stop thinking like pilots and start asking questions like any non-aviation savvy passenger might.
Here’s a rundown of what the Autoland system will display to passengers after the autoland sequence is activated.
1. The first thing Autoland wants to communicate is that it’s active. To activate it, you press a guarded switch framed in red. If someone accidentally activated Autoland, now would be the time to turn it off and let ATC know.
2. The flight displays change, too, so that non-pilots can make sense of the flight situation. Note that the tapes are showing “speed” and “altitude.” The skypointer is still there, as is the synthetic vision display. A new, simplified moving map also is windowed into the primary flight display.
3. The direction to “keep hands and feet away from aircraft controls” is important not just for its literal message but also to reassure passengers that they don’t have to do anything to help fly the plane.
4. Both the primary- and multi-function displays are used to communicate, so all can see easily and to make the messaging more effective.
5. Just as you’d hear a flight attendant announce on an airline flight, Autoland reminds passengers to prepare for landing, secure their stuff and buckle their belts.
6. The system keeps passengers apprised of the flight’s status. Here, it announces that it is getting ready to land.
7. After the plane successfully lands, stops and the engine is shut down, the system stays active, helping passengers exit, explaining things they likely understand already, like how to undo their seatbelts, and also things they might not know how to do, like open the cabin door.