A company called Vertical Power has created a GPS-based co-pilot for smaller private planes that's constantly worried about the worst-case-scenario when flying. But that's a good thing, since in the event of an emergency like an engine failure, it already knows the nearest and safest place to land.
Developed in partnership with Laminar Research, the makers of the X-Plane flight simulator, the VP-400 is wired into the plane's avionics so it always knows the craft's altitude, air speed and heading. It uses this information to determine how far the plane could safely glide to a landing. If there's an airport close enough, it will use that, but if that's not an option, it will even seek out the closest road or field that's long enough to make a safe touchdown.
If the pilot finds themselves in a bit of a panic during the emergency, which is understandable, the V-400 is even able to take control of the plane's autopilot and perform the proper manoeuvres needed to get the aircraft in position to make a landing at the chosen location. At which point the pilot should be able to safely land the plane.
With a price tag of $US8000, plus the cost of monthly subscriptions to various aviation databases, the system isn't cheap, but we imagine it's one of those things you'll be happy you splurged on the day it saves your life. [Vertical Power via Gizmag]