Rockwell Collins develops ‘digital parachutes’ to save crashing planes

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LE BOURGET, France—Cockpit-equipment maker Rockwell Collins Inc. is devising the ultimate emergency device for pilots about to crash.

When they push a “panic button,” onboard computers grab control and return the plane to safe and level flight. Rockwell Collins officials spelled out their plans for these “digital parachutes,” as they are also known, at the Paris Air Show this week.

The concept, drawn from experience with unmanned aircraft and basically requiring only software revisions, has sparked an industry debate on the proper limits of aircraft autonomy.

Full Story: Would Pilot ‘Panic Button’ Save the Day or Tie Hands?