Development of an Uneven Terrain Decision-Aid Landing System for Fixed-Wing Aircraft Based on Computer Vision

Chin Sheng Chuang, Chao Chung Peng

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper presents a computer vision-based standalone decision-aid landing system for light fixed-wing aircraft, aiming to enhance safety during emergency landings. Current landing assistance systems in airports, such as Instrument Landing Systems (ILSs) and Precision Approach Path Indicators (PAPIs), often rely on costly and location-specific ground equipment, limiting their utility for low-payload light aircraft. Especially in emergency conditions, the pilot may be forced to land on an arbitrary runway where the road flatness and glide angle cannot be ensured. To address these issues, a stereo vision-based auxiliary landing system is proposed, which is capable of estimating an appropriate glide slope based on the terrain, to assist pilots in safe landing decision-making. Moreover, in real-world scenarios, challenges with visual-based methods arise when attempting emergency landings on complex terrains with diverse objects, such as roads and buildings. This study solves this problem by employing the Gaussian Mixture Model (GMM) to segment the color image and extract ground points, while the iterative weighted plane fitting (IWPF) algorithm is introduced to mitigate the interference of outlier feature points, reaching a highly robust plane normal estimation. With the aid of the proposed system, the pilot is able to evaluate the landing glide angle/speed with respect to the uneven terrain. Simulation results demonstrate that the proposed system can successfully achieve landing guidance in unknown environments by providing glide angle estimations with an average error of less than 1 degree.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1946
JournalElectronics (Switzerland)
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2024 May

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Signal Processing
  • Hardware and Architecture
  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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