Future Technology

For even more Safety in Aviation:

The Emergency Landing Assistant ELA of the FernUni Hagen.

An engine failure means a horror scenario for every pilot and greatest danger to passengers. In aviation, emergency situations require quick decisions – under stress and the selection of many parameters.

The perfect emergency landing procedure will soon successfully be completed automatically – the Emergency Landing Assistant ELA makes this possible. The new flight assistance system was developed at FernUni Hagen in the Department of Computer Science under the direction of Prof. Dr. Wolfram Schiffmann.

Prof. Schiffmann designed the basic solutions based on which a first prototype was developed in the scope of a Bachelor's thesis. In close collaboration with Prof. Schiffmann, h&h designed the ergonomic user interface for commercial aircrafts – for the use in planes from both Airbus and Boeing as well as in business aviation jets.

In case of emergency, the Emergency Landing Assistant (ELA) is switched to the autopilot. Four individual displays provide all necessary parameters, such as the choice of up to four emergency landing places and the flight path. The special ELA Flight Director is used for surveillance or for a manual approach via the Primary Flight Display.

In the meantime, the software performs a multitude of complex calculations in the background and calculates the optimal glide path to the available, safe emergency places. ELA transmits the data to the autopilot, which leads the aircraft in a glide to the specific landing field.

Contact FernUni Hagen:


Prof. Dr.-Ing. Wolfram Schiffmann
Subject Area Computer Architecture
+49 2331 987-325


FernUniversität in Hagen
Centre of Computer Science
Universitätsstraße 1
58097 Hagen, Germany


On January 15, 2009, Chesley B. Sullenberger succeeded in ditching on the Hudson River after a glide flight with an Airbus A 320, after both engines had failed in New York in 3.200 feet of altitude. A masterly feat, which is only manageable by experienced pilots. The reconstruction of this flight with the ELA in a flight simulator (as documented here) proves that the ELA would have directed Sullenbergers A 320 to Laguardia airport for a safely landing. The downsize version of the ELA for general aviation runs as a solitary app on tablets or integrated in the built-in avionic of the aircraft. The display variant for visual flights is an optimized VFR user interface for the purely manual approach to the emergency landing field.