• SHARE

KUZU, Tochigi Pref. — Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd. said Wednesday it recently conducted successful experimental automatic takeoffs and landings of small aircraft, the first successful tests of their kind in Japan.

In July, Fuji Heavy, best known for its Subaru vehicles, carried out experimental motorized glider flights in Otone, Ibaraki Prefecture.

The firm developed a navigation system that allows it to control small airplanes automatically, as well as portable ground equipment that can be used to guide aircraft to safe landings.

The success of the experimental flights “is a step forward to make small aircraft transport closer to people,” Fuji Heavy President Kyoji Takenaka said, adding that the new system can be built at a low cost.

Developing automatic takeoffs and landings for small aircraft was a tricky proposition, as they are more susceptible to the vagaries of wind and other environmental conditions than jumbo jets or large helicopters, company officials said.

The company plans to develop high-performance unmanned airplanes and a copilot system featuring a robot for small aircraft, they said.