Thinking more about this I think what Calhoun is referring too is that he will be pushing for a design that is more automated than we have ever seen before. Or will have the ability to be upgraded down the road when the Appropriate Software and or Hardware is available.
Let me explain.
We have to remember that whatever the new frame is it will most likely be in production for at least a minimum of 20 years (taking it close to 2050 with a realistic entry into service of the late 2020's), and be in service for at about 20 years past that. Basically taking us to 2070. However the basic frame could be produced for much longer and in service for a lot longer with the longevity of carbon frames. The "Pilot" even if there is one by then who will "fly" the last one from the factory probably hasn't been born yet.
You would want to build into the frame the ability to use systems that will become available in the next 20 years and longer.
Specifically, Real AI (not the Quasi AI we have now - but real Self Aware AI that can past the Turing Test https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turing_test
) could happen by the end of this decade and we could see it's use in Aviation before the end of the 2030's, as it should be a quantum leap in safety once proven.
Will complete Automated Flight happen with no pilots by 2030? Of course not - but the level of Automation could increase significantly by 2030 with the full flight controlled essentially by Computer basically 100% of time with the pilot just there to take over if something goes wrong (with a Big red button to push to cut off all automated control).
Now would you want this Minimally trained pilot on board to have manual control and complete the flight without computer assistance if something goes wrong? Of course not - but all you would have to do is essentially train them to fly straight and level while the problem is diagnosed. Or have a completely redundant Simple AP system that could take over (by hitting the big red button) that relied on completely different sensors and control paths. A simple AP like you would find in an Cessna to maintain straight and level.
With so many sensors and computers the plane would become incredibly complex - meaning that no Pilot would have the knowledge to diagnose it properly.
This is where Boeing services comes in (and more revenue for Boeing) - you build in redundant Satellite links (that can't be controlled by HAL) so if an issue arises the pilot cuts over to the back up systems and contacts the Boeing services center where Experts on the aircraft can remote diagnose and help get the aircraft back to a safe state or possibly take remote control and fly the aircraft to a suitable Airport if the Pilot is unable to.
This is basically what happened with Lufthansa 1829 (remote diagnosis) and allowed them to continue on safely.
All this means is that if you are designing a new frame now - you have to build in the capacity for a lot more sensors into the control systems/wiring (much like Tesla is doing now with future upgrades to full autonomous driving) and space for more Computing capacity (more future revenue for Boeing Services).
Of course whenever you make things more complex you exponentially increase the points of failure - so initially you still need pilots that can fly.
In the immortal words of Montgomery Scott "The more they overthink the plumbing, the easier it is to stop up the drain."
Last edited by morrisond
on Thu Jan 23, 2020 1:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.