ILS Approach for Arducopter

The recently released Version 3.2 of my GCS FlightZoomer offers an automatic approach system, that is similar to the ILS for manned aviation.

For plane it was working since last year but since copters can’t just slip down the glideslope and then touch down with a lot of forward speed, the implemented procedure had to be changed as follows for copter:

❶ At first, Copters will stay in GUIDED mode and will descend on the glideslope towards the runway.
❷ The moment, when an altitude of 7m above ground will be reached, the descend will stop and the copter will continue in level flight until the begin of the runway is reached (runways are configured in the navigation database of the app. Properties are: position, elevation, length, primary direction, glideslope angle).
❸ At that point, forward speed will be cut to zero, and the FlightZoomer auto flight controller will put the copter automatically in LAND mode.
❹ The ArduCopter LAND mode will then simply perform a straight down descend.

As you can see in the examples from the video (towards the end), this works nicely.

Advantages of this solution:

  • As any number of runways and glideslopes can be defined upfront in the FlightZoomer navigation database, the airspace can be structured to support flexible flight operations in changing conditions (different parameter for plane vs copter, have runways for different wind directions).
  • The final descend can start in a controlled manner at a rather high altitude. The ArduCopter LAND mode is only needed for the last few Meters.
  • Solution picks up terms and procedures of manned aviation.
  • No physical installation needed for the localizer and the glideslope beam. These are defined as “virtual” data properties in the navigation database, and the FlightZoomer autopilot (feeding ArduCopter in GUIDED mode) simply uses the received position data from the vehicle to calculate deviations and corrections.

FlightZoomer is a pilot centric GCS, which is available for free in the Windows 10 store.

The updated user manual for ILS approaches is here:

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