The US Navy just finished testing software upgrades that could make the stressful task of landing a jet on an aircraft carrier significantly easier. The Maritime Augmented Guidance with Integrated Controls for Carrier Approach and Recovery Precision Enabling Technologies is a software mod that automates some aspects of the landing. The Navy is quick to stress that the system is not fully automated, and pilots remain in control.
The upgrade, nicknamed the Magic Carpet, uses the plane's autopilot for something called 'direct lift control.' The autopilot adjusts the throttle, flaps, ailerons, and stabilizers to maintain the glide angle the pilot sets. Instead of the pilot making direct adjustments to the plane's approach, all he has to do is fine tune.
In the trials, pilots on F/A-18 Super Hornets conducting takeoffs and landings using the system made both accurate and inaccurate approaches. The tech not only allowed for more accurate landings, it lessened pilot corrections from 300 to 20.
Since the system piggybacks on existing software, no hardware mods are needed. The system is expected to be used by 2019.