|Quoting aviatorcraig (Reply 1):|
How would you feel about a pilotless cargo flight crossing your flightpath with 1000' vertical separation?
Once the technology matures, and after a thorough and systematic evaluation and appropriate rules are established, I would probably feel pretty much the same way as I would feel with a piloted aircraft at the same seperation...that is, generally very confident with that nagging thoughts about the maintenance and quality of the autopilot, the pilot, the altimeter setting, hoping ATC has correctly assigned altitudes (Brasil and Swiss events), that the pilot didn't just wake up and see a star (AC incident). Eventually it's going to happen, and the RPV's being used every day now for military purposes are going to contribute a lot of technology to civil aviation, following the very well established pattern in aviation dating to 1914 at least.
|Quoting larshjort (Reply 4):|
In a transition phase I could see 1 pilot per plane on ground "supervising" the pilotless aircraft. Besides pilots aren't allowed to handfly the aircraft in RVSM airspace today so it already is the computer flying.
|Quoting combatshadow (Reply 9):|
I can see a flight crew being reduced to one pilot. But it will be a long while before it becomes solely RPA.
I completely agree - it seems reasonable to foresee a day in the next ten years or so where some flights that currently require two pilots could be replaced by a pilot in the cockpit and another on the ground - the assumption being that pilot incapacitation AND
technology failure at the same time would be statistically insignificant.
For efficiency and safety, pretty much all of the 'standard' things a pilot does are already automated, or could be done. The cost/benefit of doing some of the automation isn't really there in some cases, but that's partly due to the pilot's being there already for their real job which is to deal with emergencies. As pilot costs increase relative to the technology, experience in aviation (flight engineers) and every other industry shows that the technology will eventually be implemented.
(Same as for the cabin crew of course - the real reason is not to serve me my drink, but since they are there anyway for emergencies, then providing the extra customer service is efficient use of their presence).
I can't help but think of the "Pilot + Dog" crew team, with the dog biting the pilot if he touches anything.
I find it an Interesting choice for the test aircraft...with the relatively high cost of the crew* on a per pax basis for the smaller planes, the sub 50 or 70 seat market would benefit a lot, and of course the 19 seat market has already become a ciche market. Both could really benefit if they could go o single pilot plus remote.
* I know that in many places co-pilots make next to nothing (or less), but I am considering the economic costs, not the co-pilot's wage, so there is still a cost to having them on the list, keeping up the training and paperwork,and the real cost of training them, regarldess of who paid for it.
|Quoting combatshadow (Reply 9):|
Even with ground controlled RPA's, a pilot controlling on the ground will never feel the sense of urgency or the weight of any situation as he or she would while actually on board the plane. The pilot needs to be in the same situation the passengers are IMO.
And we have actually lost several UAV/RPA's to crashes and accidents, with a rate I can't give you in numbers, but is far higher than would ever be accepted for commercial aviation.
For the sense of urgency, I agree there is nothing like being there to have focus, but there is a lot of value being able to see the problem is you are not directly involved or distracted by on scene conditions. I'd specuale that US 1549 (Hudson River) worked out well due to the onboard brainpower, but AF447 might have benefited from an outside viewpoint (no way to properly validate this, and there may have been many other ways to prevent it, but it is one scenario where a big picture view might have helped).
For the crashes, etc., that's the learning curve of all new technologies - and especially with aviation where the military is willing to take risks with the new stuff when it makes a difference operationally, but then spend a lot of time learning from their experience. At least now when this first generation of RPV's has a problem, pilots and other people are not as intimately involved like they have been every other time.