ILS for copter

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.
❸ At that point, forward speed will be cut to zero, and FlightZoomer will put the flight controller automatically in LAND mode.
❹ The ArduCopter LAND mode will then simply perform a straight down descend.

As you can see in the examples in the video (towards the end), the whole procedure works nicely and supports rather fast descends.

For what purpose could ILS approaches for copters be useful?

  • 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 for plane vs copter, have runways for different wind directions).
  • The final descend can start in a controlled manner at a rather high altitude. There is no need to for a long descend in LAND mode.
  • Solution picks up terms and procedures of manned aviation.

More details can be found in the FlightZoomer User documentation:

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  • Hello Martin, 

    I agree with what you say. I am basically looking for some industrial level applications. 

    I feel that, in congested air spaces, it will be difficult to have landing approach thing as infrastructures are all high these days everywhere. 

  • My dear friends,

    since you develop ILS like approach for drones

    I am really sorry, being misguided by the subject line in your thread:

    "ILS for copter

    since you don't develop ILS hardware for copter/drone

    I wish you all the best , success and prosperity ;)

  • Hi Harish
    The usage probably is different for each person. Some might use it just for fun, as the system can give you the sensation of flying a real aircraft under IFR just with your drone, others might like to fly a drone in a way, that seamlessly integrates in full scale operations, others might like to use it as a training system and finally there will be others, who don't need it. It is IFR FPV in a way. It is also "scale" flying (like F4A but with the focus on Scale operations). Another use case could be flying in congested air spaces, where the flight path of drones should be predictable, commandable and adjustable.

  • Hi Martin, 

    I am not much interested in the discussion that whether Helicopters use ILS approach or not. 

    I would like to applaud your good changes in the Arducopter system that it can land like an aircraft, mostly, if not 100%. But that is OK. I am in your support for this technique. 

    Still, supporting does not give much outputs. So, when I say, I support you, it is for the technique you have come up with. But I would like to know its practical usage for the mission, its advantages and applications. 

    Thank you. 

  • Moderator

    Not sure of the relevance but:

    1. Large ones, small ones and loads inbetween

    2. Many types in my logbook

    3. Both (see above)

    4. What about it? I hover taxi quite a lot, gives the passengers plenty of time to stop screaming.

    Please feel free to ask further questions but you will have to state the relevance. 

  • @ RM Aviation

    at what airports,

    what type of helicopter,

    skid equipped or wheeled one,

    what about taxiing time to clear a runway

    RM Aviation's Page
    RM Aviation's Page on DIY Drones
  • Moderator

    Erm, I've been flying ILS approaches over the last 15 years. Commercial helicopter pilot. Just saying.......

  • Google is your friend

    "why helicopters don't use ILS

    23 400 000 results

    key to understanding why helicopters don't need ILS is by definition

    ""An Instrument Landing System (ILS) enables pilots to conduct an instrument approach to landing if they are unable to establish visual contact with the runway.

    "unable to establish visual contact with the runway.

    Helicopters don't approach in that case, moving to another location since recommended approach / take-off profiles don't match fixed wing.

    Reducing altitude to zero helicopter must reduce airspeed to zero at the same time since no moving platform is available

    so in theory and practice helicopter doesn't need a runway to land quite the opposite to fixedwing.

    Approach/ take-off profiles don't match since helicopter is slow aircraft anyway

    So helicopters approach the fixedwing behaviour just to let helicopters being embeded into fixedwing traffic.

    Helicopters don't need to fly instrument approaches and under ILS show different approach profiles vs. fixedwing

    Helicopters don't allow for "long, flat descents that leave the aircraft aligned with the desired runway, while still avoiding terrain and other obstacles.

    Instrument approach
    In aviation, an instrument approach or instrument approach procedure (IAP) is a series of predetermined maneuvers for the orderly transfer of an airc…
  • You are wrong that helicopters don't use ILS. Google returns 125000 hits for "ILS helicopter" even if the search is reduced to videos. Please convince yourself e.g. with this video:

  • You are wrong that helicopters don't use ILS. Google returns 125000 hits for "ILS helicopter" even if the search is reduced to videos. Please convince yourself e.g. with this video:

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