Virtual Event: Story of Garmin’s Autoland and Smart Glide

This fireside chat recap is from FLYING’s “What’s Next in General Aviation” Virtual Event on Wednesday.

FIRESIDE CHAT TOPIC: Phil Straub talks about how Autoland, an award winning autonomous safety feature, came to fruition and how it differs from Smart Glide.

DETAILS: FLYING’s Thom Patterson talks with Phil Straub about his time at Garmin and the technological innovations Garmin has achieved in Autoland and Smart Glide.

SPEAKER: Straub is the executive vice president and managing director at Garmin.

BIO: Straub graduated from the University of Missouri with a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering. He holds an airline transport pilot certificate with a multiengine rating, as well as a flight instructor certificate with single-engine, multiengine, and instrument privileges. Prior to joining Garmin, Straub was a pilot and flight instructor at Executive Beechcraft and Baker’s Aircraft Center. Straub joined Garmin in 1993, and has held many roles in aviation engineering at the company, contributing heavily into embedded software development and certification flight testing. In January 2017, he was appointed to his current role, executive vice president, and managing director.


“I was wearing a lot of hats in a small company. I got to do user interface design on the 430 based upon the flying experience I had at the time, which was about 2,000 to 3,000 hours. But I also got to do assembly code on the instrument landing system, localizer, glideslope, VOR. But the cool part is then I would go out and fly it.”

“The anchor was (on Autoland) … when the tragic Payne Stewart accident occurred. As engineers and pilots, how would we have dealt with that situation any differently? About 10 years laters—about 2011—all the technology pieces started to come together.”

“Autoland is designed to safely take an airplane from really anywhere back down to the surface of the runway in a safe manner all autonomously. This system is designed to recognize the possibility that the pilot and crew may no longer be doing the functions.”

“It can be activated by either the pilot or the passengers or by the lack of response by the pilot. It then decides the most suitable place for landing and begins to communicate with air traffic control, all autonomously, … even shutting down the engine after touchdown.”

“Smart Glide is about helping a fully capable crew and pilot with an airplane that may be having a full powerplant failure or partial powerplant failure and help the crew get to a safe place to land.”

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