The 412th Test Wing at Edwards AFB, California, has published the technical report on the Lockheed Martin F-35’s new Automatic Ground and Collision Avoidance System (Auto-GCAS) and has recommended it for fielding.
Auto-GCAS is designed to prevent controlled flight into terrain mishaps by executing an automatic recovery maneuver when impact with the ground is imminent. It accomplishes this feat through a predicted trajectory, based on GPS positioning and system altitude, which is compared with an onboard Digital Terrain Database.
Once the program recognizes the aircraft is likely to crash, it prompts the pilot to evade either a ground crash or a controlled flight into terrain situation. If no action is taken, Auto-GCAS assumes temporary control, engaging an autopilot maneuver to roll the aircraft upright and initiate a 5g pull, diverting the plane and pilot out of harm’s way. After putting the plane on a safe trajectory, the system returns aircraft control to the pilot.
This video is an example of Auto-GCAS working in an F-16 where the pilot suffered a g-induced loss of consciousness (G-LOC):