Travel

This app can emergency land an airplane

Passengers smoking e-cigs in the bathroomanimalspooping in the aisle -- there's plenty that can go wrong on an airplane to force an emergency landing. But what happens when pilots like Roger Murdock and Otto fall ill, and there's no Ted Striker around to save the day?

Well, now there's an app for that. Rendering pilots everywhere practically useless (OK, maybe not), Xavion, developed by aviation expert Austin Meyer, can safely navigate a plane to the nearest runway. Like Google Maps for airplanes, the app hooks up to the aircraft’s autopilot through Wi-Fi to plan the most efficient route to the nearest airport through real-time simulations.

But rather than just giving you directions, the app even makes the flight path into a Sonic the Hedgehog level, displaying “a series of hoops sprouting out of the nose of [the] airplane and running through the sky, spiraling down to the best runway”.  Except if you screw up, you don't get to land the plane again like you'd get another crack at Dr. Robotnik.

Xavion also collects all the data required to pilot successfully, from location and altitude, to fuel requirements and an estimated time of arrival, using the GPS sensors on an iPhone or iPad. Additionally, the app helpfully backs up flight instruments in case there’s a power outage.

The app's also able to work at night, and even through thunderstorms. But, terrifyingly, there’s no answer for what happens if the Wi-Fi connection goes... 

Xavion is currently available to support small aircraft (though it’s hoped that this kind of technology will assist pilots of larger jets in the future), and costs $199 on the app store. So you're probably not gonna just download it to putz around.

But hey, if you're paranoid and want to account for every disaster permutation, including the pilots disappearing... well, now you can.


Chloe Pantazi is an editorial assistant on Thrillist's travel team. Yes, that's a British accent. No, she doesn't watch Doctor Who. Follow her on Twitter at @ChloePantazi.