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Possibility To Remote Fly An Airliner  
User currently offlineF.pier From Italy, joined Aug 2000, 1523 posts, RR: 9
Posted (8 years 5 months 3 weeks 1 day 21 hours ago) and read 3920 times:

All the most recent series of airliners are fly by wire. This means that there isn't a physical connection between commands and hydraulic and mechanical parts. Pilots give a digital command and computers "translate" it into a language comprehensible by automatic systems.
But this means that there is no need to have pilots physically in the plane.
I perfectly know that the presence of pilots is important and I wouldn't like to have "self controlled" airplane. But in extreme cases, for example the Helios 737 which crashed besause of the pilot missing, a remote system could be useful and probabily save a lot of lives.
A simulator connected with the true airplane should give the pilots all information he/she need to safely land the airplane.

Of course it should be "supercontrolled", for example this system should be activated only after authorization of the airplane manufacturer by special secret codes.

But this would exclude the possibility to hijack airplanes. What do you think?

57 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlineRichardPrice From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 1, posted (8 years 5 months 3 weeks 1 day 20 hours ago) and read 3907 times:

It would simply open up the possibility to hijack from the ground. Any computer security can be broken (yes, quote me on that, security is never meant to stop completely, just deter long enough that it doesnt matter) so having a total override system would mean the hijackers no longer have to risk themselves.

Plus you have other issues such as lag, latency, pilots being unable to 'feel' the aircraft etc.


User currently offlineFLALEFTY From United States of America, joined Jan 2006, 445 posts, RR: 3
Reply 2, posted (8 years 5 months 3 weeks 1 day 20 hours ago) and read 3900 times:

The short answer is "Yes" - especially the more modern, computer-controlled planes.

To do this would require installation of high-speed telemetry on the aircraft so all of the flight control parameters could be monitored and controlled in by a ground station. There would also be the need for a network of ground-based telemetry receivers/repeaters to allow continued control of the plane once it clears the horizon.


User currently offlineCBPhoto From United States of America, joined Dec 2003, 1551 posts, RR: 5
Reply 3, posted (8 years 5 months 3 weeks 1 day 20 hours ago) and read 3880 times:

I have heard FedEx is looking at a freight system in the future that is completly pilotless! How far in the future is unknown!!


ETOPS: Engines Turning or Passengers Swimming
User currently offlineSATX From United States of America, joined Apr 2005, 2840 posts, RR: 7
Reply 4, posted (8 years 5 months 3 weeks 1 day 19 hours ago) and read 3862 times:

As I understand it, the US military already has such capability with 'drone' aircraft and my guess is that we will eventually see remote controlled commercial aircraft as well, perhaps only a few decades away. I would expect the future costs of running an airline to play a big role in promoting remote control, and that freight aircraft will serve as a crucial link between military and passenger applications. I could see remote piloting technology first being used as backup for rare emergency situations that could result from both the captain and first officer being incapacitated. Perhaps the first such application will have built-in safety systems that require the cockpit to first hand-over control before the plane can be controlled from ground operators. This would obviously be a double-edged sword, but the fear people have of remote control might prevent full adoption in the early stages. Eventually the potential uses could be broadened to replace one of the pilots. Looking far off into the future of passenger aircraft, both pilots may eventually be removed from the cockpit after decades of acceptable performance is eventually achieved

If conventional hijacking continues to be a major problem in the near future, this may also play a role in speeding up the testing and eventual adoption of remote piloting technology.



Open Season on Consumer Protections is Just Around the Corner...
User currently offlineDartland From United States of America, joined Apr 2005, 643 posts, RR: 2
Reply 5, posted (8 years 5 months 3 weeks 1 day 19 hours ago) and read 3851 times:
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This is a LOOOONG way off.

People are still complaining that they don't like it when a subway train moves without a human conductor (like Line 1 in the Paris Metro or the L train in NYC's subway) -- airplanes?

Although you can't refute that what seems crazy and impossible one day, often becomes reality down the road...


User currently offlineAntiuser From Italy, joined May 2004, 657 posts, RR: 1
Reply 6, posted (8 years 5 months 3 weeks 1 day 19 hours ago) and read 3828 times:

Current technology already allows it to be done. Pretty much all you'd need for a basic/rudimentary setup would be a series of servos and relays to control the yoke/stick, rudder, throttles and trim. However, as long as computers are fallible, there'll always be a human element in the cockpit.
The pilot's functions are likely to change, though. Basically the "pilot" would be someone who can operate the flight computer and know how to hand-fly the plane in case of computer failure - which, in some aspects, isn't so disparate from the way it currently is.



Azzurri Campioni del Mondo!
User currently offlineBobster2 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 7, posted (8 years 5 months 3 weeks 1 day 17 hours ago) and read 3775 times:

The NY Times had an article on this subject after 9/11. It was proposed that the pilots would initiate an automatic landing mode if they felt threatened by hijackers. All controls in the cockpit would then be immediately disabled and there would be no way to enable them again. Even if hijackers got into the cockpit, they could do nothing to prevent the plane from landing at the nearest airport.

User currently offlineN908AW From United States of America, joined Aug 2005, 922 posts, RR: 1
Reply 8, posted (8 years 5 months 3 weeks 1 day 16 hours ago) and read 3752 times:

Quoting Bobster2 (Reply 7):
Even if hijackers got into the cockpit, they could do nothing to prevent the plane from landing at the nearest airport.

How safe would that be!?! The military is still working on making unmanned planes that make things go boom. Transporting 300+ people and baggage plus loads and loads of cargo unmanned? I don't think so. Insurance comanies right now are having a cow about the Eclipse 500's intent to design the plane for one pilot. Imagine zero.



'Cause you're on ATA again, and on ATA, you're on vacation!
User currently offlineBond007 From United States of America, joined Mar 2005, 5400 posts, RR: 8
Reply 9, posted (8 years 5 months 3 weeks 1 day 16 hours ago) and read 3748 times:

Remember the 707 (I think) that they crashed in the desert to test some new fuel gel. It was all remotely controlled.

Of course, technically it's possible now...acceptable to pax....not for many decades.


Jimbo



I'd rather be on the ground wishing I was in the air, than in the air wishing I was on the ground!
User currently offlineSATX From United States of America, joined Apr 2005, 2840 posts, RR: 7
Reply 10, posted (8 years 5 months 3 weeks 1 day 16 hours ago) and read 3745 times:

Quoting N908AW (Reply 8):
How safe would that be!?! The military is still working on making unmanned planes that make things go boom. Transporting 300+ people and baggage plus loads and loads of cargo unmanned?

It's not an all-or-nothing gambit. You don't have to get rid of the pilots just to try it out. This will be a very slow change that will start small and won't affect most commercial passenger aircraft for a very long time yet. However, I'm convinced that it will eventually happen. The potential cost savings are just too high to leave it on the drawing board forever.



Open Season on Consumer Protections is Just Around the Corner...
User currently offlineBobster2 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 11, posted (8 years 5 months 3 weeks 1 day 16 hours ago) and read 3723 times:

Quoting Bond007 (Reply 9):
Remember the 707 (I think) that they crashed in the desert to test some new fuel gel. It was all remotely controlled.

The remote pilots actually screwed up in that test or there was some hardware failure. They did manage to crash, anybody can do that, but they crashed in the wrong place. They were supposed to hit something on the ground that would tear open the fuel tanks, but they wobbled all over the place and lost control, and missed the target. If you watch the video, you can see that the plane was out of control at the end.

[Edited 2006-02-10 00:53:23]

User currently offlineHikesWithEyes From United States of America, joined Jan 2004, 816 posts, RR: 7
Reply 12, posted (8 years 5 months 3 weeks 1 day 12 hours ago) and read 3659 times:

It will happen eventually. Once the systems prove to reliable, the
airline industry will be all over it.
You can say goodbye to ALPA and the hassles of CBA.
People have previously posted that the flying public won't accept it,
but a hundred years ago people were saying that they wouldn't go
up in an airplane, period.
As far as hijacking on the ground goes, it is always a possibility, but
the airline operations centers would get increased security and I believe
that most would have backup centers in case of power outages,disasters,
etc.



First, benzene in my Perrier, and now this!
User currently offlineMasseyBrown From United States of America, joined Dec 2002, 5371 posts, RR: 7
Reply 13, posted (8 years 5 months 3 weeks 1 day 10 hours ago) and read 3624 times:

I don't see pilotless passenger aircraft within 25 years; but it's easy to imagine a remotely controlled cargo flight with only one pilot carried "for emergencies" or union rules as the case may be. The freighter wouldn't be pilotless, of course; the pilot would merely stay on the ground and fly by a longer "wire."

The autopilot, data link, and telemetry equipment all exist. About two years ago, the USAF operated a Global Hawk from California to Australia and back, including fueling stops, without a pilot.



I love long German words like 'Freundschaftsbezeigungen'.
User currently offlineN766UA From United States of America, joined Jul 1999, 8193 posts, RR: 24
Reply 14, posted (8 years 5 months 3 weeks 1 day 10 hours ago) and read 3624 times:

Quoting CBPhoto (Reply 3):
I have heard FedEx is looking at a freight system in the future that is completly pilotless! How far in the future is unknown!!

Screw FedEx then.



This Website Censors Me
User currently offlineBond007 From United States of America, joined Mar 2005, 5400 posts, RR: 8
Reply 15, posted (8 years 5 months 3 weeks 1 day 3 hours ago) and read 3570 times:

Quoting Bobster2 (Reply 11):
The remote pilots actually screwed up in that test or there was some hardware failure. They did manage to crash, anybody can do that, but they crashed in the wrong place

Well, this was hardly a good example...my fault. They didn't use much more sophistication than used on a remote control model aircraft. I guess it did prove that taking off and cruising is easy with little or no complex equipment. Also with autoland systems, which of course they didn't use, it would have been a different story - they were trying to crash the plane after all!


Jimbo



I'd rather be on the ground wishing I was in the air, than in the air wishing I was on the ground!
User currently offlineMD11Engineer From Germany, joined Oct 2003, 13968 posts, RR: 63
Reply 16, posted (8 years 5 months 3 weeks 1 day 1 hour ago) and read 3528 times:

How do you think the ex jet fighters converted to target drones are being flown? Even the 1950s Snark missile (an early nuclear cruise missile) could, if the mission was called off, be landed on skids using remote control. There is a huge skid runway iat Cape Canaveral built for this purpose when the USAF tested this missile back in the 1950s.

After 9/11 it was considered to install a "hijack" button on aircraft with FBW, which would disable the aircraft controls, only reversable by MX on the ground, and allow a ground station to take over the aircraft and land it, but it was considered to risky, that a terrorist organisation might hack into the system and hijack an aircraft to crash it without ever getting near it.

Jan


User currently offlineYOWza From Canada, joined Jul 2005, 4865 posts, RR: 15
Reply 17, posted (8 years 5 months 3 weeks 1 day 1 hour ago) and read 3524 times:

Remote pilots are an excellent idea. No point having pilots on board. If something tricky happens or control is lost all you need to do is find a passenger to fly the plane with instructions from the tower. From what I've seen in movies this is incredibly easy.  Yeah sure

YOWza



12A whenever possible.
User currently offlineViv From Ireland, joined May 2005, 3142 posts, RR: 29
Reply 18, posted (8 years 5 months 3 weeks 1 day ago) and read 3498 times:

In the future, an airliner crew will consist of one man (or woman) and one dog.

The man's job will be to feed the dog. The dog's job will be to bite the man if he tries to touch the aircraft controls.



Nikon D700, Nikkor 80-400, Fuji X Pro 1, Fujinon 35 f/1.4, Fujinon 18 f/2
User currently offlineStar_world From Ireland, joined Jun 2001, 1234 posts, RR: 0
Reply 19, posted (8 years 5 months 3 weeks 1 day ago) and read 3488 times:

Quoting N766UA (Reply 14):
Screw FedEx then.

 Confused Nice childish solution to that! Will you apply the same logic to all aircraft manufacturers that consider this approach? Do you refuse to ride on the unmanned monorails that you find in lots of airports?


User currently offlineN766UA From United States of America, joined Jul 1999, 8193 posts, RR: 24
Reply 20, posted (8 years 5 months 3 weeks 18 hours ago) and read 3419 times:

Quoting Star_world (Reply 19):
Nice childish solution to that! Will you apply the same logic to all aircraft manufacturers that consider this approach? Do you refuse to ride on the unmanned monorails that you find in lots of airports?

It's not a solution. I'm speaking as a pilot, not as a passenger. If I were a monorail operator I'd be pissed too.



This Website Censors Me
User currently offlineAvgroupie From United States of America, joined Sep 2005, 13 posts, RR: 0
Reply 21, posted (8 years 5 months 3 weeks 17 hours ago) and read 3398 times:

Quoting Dartland (Reply 5):
People are still complaining that they don't like it when a subway train moves without a human conductor (like Line 1 in the Paris Metro or the L train in NYC's subway) -- airplanes?

In fact wasn't it the BART system in the San Francisco Bay area that had a fully automated train ( during start up testing - no passengers ) plow through the barriers at the final stop and end up in the parking lot ?

This level of commercial flight automation will probably occur, but not likely in my lifetime. If I am still around, I'd want at least a geek on board that could access the flight deck and execute "control/alt/delete" when the system no longer responds.  eyepopping 


User currently offlineFanofjets From United States of America, joined Apr 2000, 1964 posts, RR: 3
Reply 22, posted (8 years 5 months 3 weeks 11 hours ago) and read 3351 times:

Quoting Bond007 (Reply 9):
Remember the 707 (I think) that they crashed in the desert to test some new fuel gel. It was all remotely controlled.

This was a one-time test of a fuel retardant. The aircraft referred to was a Boeing 720-061 (sometimes cited as a 720-027, as the airframe was purchased from the Braniff block of aircraft). The use of remote-control technology in this case is obvious.

Before:

View Large View Medium
Click here for bigger photo!

Photo © Marcus Anderholm



After:

View Large View Medium
Click here for bigger photo!

Photo © AirNikon




The aeroplane has unveiled for us the true face of the earth. -Antoine de Saint-Exupery
User currently offlineDeC From Greece, joined Aug 2005, 616 posts, RR: 1
Reply 23, posted (8 years 5 months 3 weeks 11 hours ago) and read 3345 times:

I would never fly with a remote-controlled airplane. Computers can do a lot of things but only guided, not by themselves; they keep making all those errors and all...imagine a plane run by Microsoft and getting an 'illegal operation - shutting down' error at FL360! Big grin


DEC
User currently offlineRDUDDJI From Lesotho, joined Jun 2004, 1458 posts, RR: 3
Reply 24, posted (8 years 5 months 3 weeks 10 hours ago) and read 3320 times:

I actually met some hippie who believed a conspiracy theory 4-5 years ago, that the CIA took remote control of the four planes on 9/11 and crashed them on purpose to further the West's agenda. It's sad what this world is coming to...


Sometimes we don't realize the good times when we're in them
25 Post contains links ILCFII : This whole idea may not be all to far off. My school just got a grant to study UAV's. www.aero.und.edu/f5_News/f1_Current%...News/filereader.php?id=01
26 SATX : Planes have more and more software in them with every new design, and yet they crash less than they used to. Just because the IFE goes on the fritz d
27 Mir : I certainly would. Big difference between those and a plane. You can have systems in a monorail that will bring it to a stop should a computer proble
28 Post contains images ImperialEagle : AND I can think of a couple of U.S. carriers, whose management would like to convert right now! Take the ones based in MSP or ATL for instance! Perso
29 Star_world : As other people have pointed out already in this thread, the onboard systems on aircraft are already advanced enough that they can operate to minima
30 Planemaker : Eclipse has had insurance for owners lined up for quite some time. It was one of the first things that they tackled... obviously. The technology is a
31 Superhub : The MTR and KCR in Hong Kong are all automated. However, a driver is still put in there just to ensure everything works properly. I believe the Dockl
32 Post contains images NAV20 : Have to disagree, Star_world. A car is 'positively-located' by virtue of the fact that it is running on a road - so the designer of any control syste
33 Planemaker : "If safety is the goal..." - ah, life is never so simple. If vehicle safety was really a goal, then there are many things that could be legislated to
34 Mir : I believe the rudder is not FBW in the Airbus, and the ailerons are not in the E-Jet (or at least I think that's what a Shuttle America pilot told me
35 Africanflyer : Indeed. Reliance ONLY on computers is as bad if not worse than reliance ONLY on people. Therein lies the perennial problem. And as others pointed out
36 Mir : A plane can't just pull over to the side of the road when things go awry. It has to be brought down to earth eventually, and in a controlled manner.
37 Post contains images NAV20 : Glad we agree about cars being 'a suitable case for treatment' in the automation field, Planemaker (but they'd better leave MY car alone! ). The sign
38 Wukka : Most of that is already there in a FBW ship. As was mentioned above, I would think that the most difficult part of the whole thing would be the high-
39 Planemaker : Thank you for your thoughtful post. However, I have to disagree with the thrust of your neighbour's information and the conclusions that you have dra
40 Post contains links NAV20 : Thanks also for your constructive posts, Planemaker. Have to query this, though:- You'll know better than I that, in a conventional aeroplane, many sy
41 Planemaker : NAV20, thank you again. I am enjoying our discussion. I agree with you... at the present time. And "present time" is the key word. I have always said
42 Post contains images NAV20 : Enjoying it this end too, Planemaker! We’re obviously not far apart on the likely timescale. Must admit that I had a chuckle at that – remembering
43 Planemaker : Yes, one can always get a chuckle from finite resource predictions. Some of my favourites are related with Thomas Malthus, Paul Ehrlich and the Club
44 VirginFlyer : This is a very interesting discussion. From reading the above posts, I think there are two different schools of thought being talked about. One is the
45 Post contains images Bond007 : Unless you had a team of 'pilots' on the ground that were monitoring the flights of perhaps many times the aircraft they could individually fly from
46 VirginFlyer : Perhaps, but I don't see this being allowed - at the end of the day, regulators will demand that each aircraft has its own pilot - and for a very goo
47 Planemaker : I believe that we'll end up with pilot-less commercial aircraft. However, as I have posted, I don't believe it will happen for at least 20+ years, an
48 Bond007 : I agree it was an amazing feat, and they worked miracles. I guess my point is that suppose those engines could have been independently controlled by
49 Post contains images NAV20 : I think that's exactly right, VirginFlyer. The three recent incidents I mentioned (they all happened within the past year) were less extreme that Uni
50 Bond007 : It wouldn't have happened to start with. A logical computer wouldn't have made the mistakes that the pilot made when he started his 'lateral thinking
51 Post contains links and images NAV20 : Simply can't understand that, Bond007? As I said, the rudder just broke off without warning when the aeroplane was cruising on autopilot at 35,000 fe
52 Post contains images Bond007 : Ooops! Wrong Air Transat incident sorry! Of course, my answer is still that it's nothing a computer couldn't have recognized and recovered from ...or
53 Post contains images NAV20 : Cheers, Jimbo! Of course, you were thinking of the 'Azores glider' - I sholuld have realised. As a matter of fact, even that 'incident' wasn't clearcu
54 Bond007 : No, you're stuck in old technology. ILS approaches will be a thing of the past in 10 years or more. GPS approaches will be the norm perhaps - as they
55 Planemaker : A valid point about the 3 incidents discussed (4 if we include United 232) since they really have no bearing in any discussion about the state-of-the
56 Mir : Ever realise that the final portion of the space shuttle's descent is hand-flown? GPS is still a non-precision approach. The only precision approach
57 Bond007 : Not anymore ... again, that's old GPS technology. With WAAS and LAAS you have precision approaches. Even now, the technology is there for a GPS autol
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