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Last Updated: Saturday, 21 May, 2005, 02:30 GMT 03:30 UK
Push button plane landing hailed
STOVL harrier jump jet
The 'push button landing' was onto the deck of HMS Invincible
Landing Harrier jump jets on ships in bad weather can now be done at the touch of a button, British technology firm Qinetiq has announced.

It is hoped the technology will allow pilots to fly missions that would not otherwise have been possible.

The system was based on "some very complicated maths which would remain a trade secret", the project's technical manager Jeremy Howitt said.

The technology could also be used on helicopters, frigates and destroyers.

Red button

The first automatic ship landing by "short take-off vertical landing" (STOVL) aircraft was achieved during a test on HMS Invincible.

It is part of the Ministry of Defence's 2bn contribution to America's $40bn Joint Strike Fighter programme.

It's something Harrier pilots have always wanted - a big red button to push and take you straight to the coffee bar
Pilot Justin Paines

The device works by linking a STOVL aircraft, via satellite and radio, to an aircraft carrier, Mr Howitt said.

It enables the aircraft and the carrier to know the relative location of one another to within 10cm.

Qinetiq pilot Justin Paines, 41, who was on the Harrier jet equipped with the new system said it made things "completely automatic".

In the new procedure, pilots have to press the button to plot a route in, press it again to accept and then a third time to engage.

"We are trying to make the task of recovering the aircraft to the carrier as simple as possible and let pilots focus on their war mission," he added.


SEE ALSO:
UK to buy 150 fighter planes
30 Sep 02 |  Business
JSF: The last manned fighter?
26 Oct 01 |  Business


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