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UAV Navigation in Depth: Parachute landing for fixed-wing UAS and Target Drones

The landing stage in manned and unmanned aviation is usually the most challenging and critical maneuvers of any flight due to the proximity to the ground. During this maneuver, there are many different factors that may influence and lead the platform to a hard touchdown that may cause structural failures such as crosswinds or altitude sensor failures.

For NATO Class I and Class II UAS classification, the landing phase may be performed using landing gear or belly landing, a ‘deep stall’ maneuver, a capture mechanism such as a net or parachute recovery. 

UAV Navigation provides all these landing options on its FCC, depending on the nature of the project and platform. The company knows the importance of this flight stage, so our engineers have invested many hours of flight testing and development in our landing algorithms to be more efficient and reliable.

Some of these advanced procedures are the possibility to execute standard runway landing, selecting the shape of the approaching maneuver, and executing the flare and touch down without third party technologies that require GNSS signal such as DGPS/RTK or configure alternative landing sites the system will automatically use to face different contingencies that occur even if communication link with the operator is not available.

Besides these advanced features we have introduced in the past, UAV Navigation autopilot is able to control a parachute deployment, either for routine landing operations or for emergency parachute deployment.

These deployment algorithms have been improved thanks to UAV Navigation experience in target drones, platforms whose landing is mainly performed with the help of parachutes. This way, we have developed an advanced algorithm based on not only the parachute release but also taking into account the airspeed and the wind direction during landing. In order to do so, our GCS software Visionair shows the operator information about the wind during the flight through a wind rose.

The parachute deployment logic will check if the airspeed is too high to safely deploy the parachute and perform a pitch-up if airspeed needs to be reduced.

Upon receipt of the parachute deployment command for a routine landing, the autopilot follows a path of base and final leg approximation, the characteristic behavior of a manned aircraft. Once the aircraft is closer to the point of landing, the autopilot will perform a similar profile of the picture. In case of emergency, the autopilot does not follow that procedure. In this case, it will cut the engine and deploy the parachute.


Parachute Landing


UAV Navigation is synonymous with flight safety. During our more than 17 years of experience, we have accumulated numerous flight hours that have been translated into a more reliable and safe system in the autopilot market.

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UAV Navigation is a privately-owned company that has specialized in the design of flight control solutions for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) since 2004. It is used by a variety of Tier 1 aerospace manufacturers in a wide range of UAV - also known as Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) or 'drones'. These include high-performance tactical unmanned planes, aerial targets, mini-UAVs and helicopters.