B17GEAA
Topic Author
Posts: 12
Joined: Mon Mar 12, 2018 6:41 pm

Pilotless Aircraft

Tue Mar 13, 2018 6:06 pm

Thoughts on the potential for fully pilotless aircraft? Are we far away from it? How hard would it be to accomplish this?
 
WPvsMW
Posts: 1184
Joined: Thu Mar 23, 2017 7:30 pm

Re: Pilotless Aircraft

Tue Mar 13, 2018 7:08 pm

There's a search box in the upper right corner... it works very well. Suggested search terms:
pilotless
automation
"human pilot"
 
CCGPV
Posts: 1292
Joined: Tue Jan 16, 2018 5:18 pm

Re: Pilotless Aircraft

Wed Mar 14, 2018 11:27 pm

Regulations aside it would be very easy to accomplish this today. There's already been pilotless drones flown half way round the world for decades. You wouldn't even have to modify the aircraft already in service too substantially. Some satellite uplink, a few cameras and mechanical actuators and you're good to go.

I'd bet $10 its not going to happen for at least another 50+ years on commercial aircraft. Unions, insurance companies, squeamish public reaction, etc would be insurmountable.
Stay curious
 
User avatar
Horstroad
Posts: 446
Joined: Thu Apr 08, 2010 8:19 pm

Re: Pilotless Aircraft

Wed Mar 14, 2018 11:37 pm

My first thought was that "you'd really want to have somebody up there 'just in case' something breaks"... you know, technology isn't perfect.

But they probably said the same thing about flight engineers some 40 years ago... so it's just a matter of time i guess.

Maybe with the first generation pilotless aircraft some sort of 'emergency pilot' would be on stand by on board who will intervene in case of an emergency?
 
B17GEAA
Topic Author
Posts: 12
Joined: Mon Mar 12, 2018 6:41 pm

Re: Pilotless Aircraft

Thu Mar 15, 2018 2:20 am

It is for sure possible. The bigger issue would be getting the public approval. My main thoughts are what would a pilotless aircraft do in emergency situations? It seems like we would have to achieve perfect artificial intelligence to have a plane that could make decisions like that (ex. Miracle on the Hudson and all other bird strikes, etc.)
 
User avatar
Starlionblue
Posts: 18547
Joined: Fri Feb 27, 2004 9:54 pm

Re: Pilotless Aircraft

Thu Mar 15, 2018 3:33 am

B17GEAA wrote:
It is for sure possible. The bigger issue would be getting the public approval. My main thoughts are what would a pilotless aircraft do in emergency situations? It seems like we would have to achieve perfect artificial intelligence to have a plane that could make decisions like that (ex. Miracle on the Hudson and all other bird strikes, etc.)


Once you have decision-making software at that level, the discussion becomes different. For every Miracle on the Hudson where the pilots saved the day there are probably 10 disasters where the pilots did the wrong thing in a crisis.

Same with self-driving cars. They're certainly not perfect, but neither are fleshbag drivers. It doesn't have to be perfect. It has to be enough of an improvement to justify the investment. Of course you run into issues when you have to program a machine to react to The Trolley Problem. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trolley_problem

The best aircraft control philosophies use the synergy of man and machine to create a greater whole. Looking at cockpit evolution since the 70s, it hasn't been about replacing the (two remaining) guys up front so much as giving the pilots better tools to do his job, e.g. ECAM/EICAS.
"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots." - John Ringo
 
User avatar
seat55a
Posts: 205
Joined: Thu Jan 17, 2013 7:18 pm

Re: Pilotless Aircraft

Thu Mar 15, 2018 5:37 am

Starlionblue wrote:
It has to be enough of an improvement to justify the investment. Of course you run into issues when you have to program a machine to react to The Trolley Problem. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trolley_problem


My idea for self driving cars is that the owner should be able to program their chosen answer to the trolley problem (notably the variation that requires a choice between selfish and altruistic actions).

Extending that to passenger flights, we have here a new booking option - do you want to be on the flight with the selfish AI or the altruistic AI? (and possibly a new revenue generator - You have to pay more for the selfish one...)
 
User avatar
Starlionblue
Posts: 18547
Joined: Fri Feb 27, 2004 9:54 pm

Re: Pilotless Aircraft

Thu Mar 15, 2018 5:53 am

seat55a wrote:
Starlionblue wrote:
It has to be enough of an improvement to justify the investment. Of course you run into issues when you have to program a machine to react to The Trolley Problem. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trolley_problem


My idea for self driving cars is that the owner should be able to program their chosen answer to the trolley problem (notably the variation that requires a choice between selfish and altruistic actions).

Extending that to passenger flights, we have here a new booking option - do you want to be on the flight with the selfish AI or the altruistic AI? (and possibly a new revenue generator - You have to pay more for the selfish one...)


Perfect. :D
"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots." - John Ringo
 
Andre3K
Posts: 365
Joined: Tue May 30, 2017 10:11 pm

Re: Pilotless Aircraft

Thu Mar 15, 2018 6:17 am

The real question here is, unless you are looking at it from a safety standpoint, why would you want pilotless airplanes? Your ticket is not going to get any cheaper (just look at the airline reactions to lower gas prices, has your ticket changed in proportion with it?). The only thing pilotless aircraft will achieve is getting rid of more upper middle class jobs and if thats something you want then you could always move to Pakistan or some other crap hole country and live in squalor with the rest of them.
 
User avatar
Starlionblue
Posts: 18547
Joined: Fri Feb 27, 2004 9:54 pm

Re: Pilotless Aircraft

Thu Mar 15, 2018 6:25 am

Andre3K wrote:
The real question here is, unless you are looking at it from a safety standpoint, why would you want pilotless airplanes? Your ticket is not going to get any cheaper (just look at the airline reactions to lower gas prices, has your ticket changed in proportion with it?). The only thing pilotless aircraft will achieve is getting rid of more upper middle class jobs and if thats something you want then you could always move to Pakistan or some other crap hole country and live in squalor with the rest of them.


Technological advancement is rarely about what the public wants. Scientific progress does not pause for job retention barring typically futile government intervention.

If airlines could lower training costs dramatically by removing one or more pilots, they would have a tremendous incentive to push one-pilot and pilotless airliners.
"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots." - John Ringo
 
Andre3K
Posts: 365
Joined: Tue May 30, 2017 10:11 pm

Re: Pilotless Aircraft

Thu Mar 15, 2018 6:31 am

Starlionblue wrote:

Technological advancement is rarely about what the public wants. Scientific progress does not pause for job retention barring typically futile government intervention.

If airlines could lower training costs dramatically by removing one or more pilots, they would have a tremendous incentive to push one-pilot and pilotless airliners.



That still begs the question, what good would it do for the flying public?

And do YOU even care about what happens to the thousands of pilots who would suddenly be competing for jobs at Walmart?
 
User avatar
Starlionblue
Posts: 18547
Joined: Fri Feb 27, 2004 9:54 pm

Re: Pilotless Aircraft

Thu Mar 15, 2018 7:14 am

Andre3K wrote:
Starlionblue wrote:

Technological advancement is rarely about what the public wants. Scientific progress does not pause for job retention barring typically futile government intervention.

If airlines could lower training costs dramatically by removing one or more pilots, they would have a tremendous incentive to push one-pilot and pilotless airliners.


That still begs the question, what good would it do for the flying public?

And do YOU even care about what happens to the thousands of pilots who would suddenly be competing for jobs at Walmart?


Of course I care. And I don't really see any significant advantages to the flying public at this point.

My point was that, for better or for worse, those are not the questions that will drive development.
"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots." - John Ringo
 
CCGPV
Posts: 1292
Joined: Tue Jan 16, 2018 5:18 pm

Re: Pilotless Aircraft

Thu Mar 15, 2018 1:30 pm

Andre3K wrote:
Starlionblue wrote:

Technological advancement is rarely about what the public wants. Scientific progress does not pause for job retention barring typically futile government intervention.

If airlines could lower training costs dramatically by removing one or more pilots, they would have a tremendous incentive to push one-pilot and pilotless airliners.



That still begs the question, what good would it do for the flying public?

And do YOU even care about what happens to the thousands of pilots who would suddenly be competing for jobs at Walmart?


What are all these blacksmiths, farriers and streetsweepers going to do when these newfangled cars start being made? There will be millions of starving people in the streets!
Stay curious
 
User avatar
zeke
Posts: 12627
Joined: Thu Dec 14, 2006 1:42 pm

Re: Pilotless Aircraft

Thu Mar 15, 2018 2:39 pm

CCGPV wrote:
Regulations aside it would be very easy to accomplish this today. There's already been pilotless drones flown half way round the world for decades. You wouldn't even have to modify the aircraft already in service too substantially. Some satellite uplink, a few cameras and mechanical actuators and you're good to go.


Those drones are not pilotless, and they don’t have to mix it up with busy ATC.

ATC technology is a long way from making this happen, every country has its own system, and the minimum system in place around the world is not good enough to facilitate real-time remote control. We still have many countries where in flight blind broadcasts are used.
Human rights lawyers are "ambulance chasers of the very worst kind.'" - Sky News
 
CCGPV
Posts: 1292
Joined: Tue Jan 16, 2018 5:18 pm

Re: Pilotless Aircraft

Thu Mar 15, 2018 2:45 pm

zeke wrote:
CCGPV wrote:
Regulations aside it would be very easy to accomplish this today. There's already been pilotless drones flown half way round the world for decades. You wouldn't even have to modify the aircraft already in service too substantially. Some satellite uplink, a few cameras and mechanical actuators and you're good to go.


Those drones are not pilotless, and they don’t have to mix it up with busy ATC.

ATC technology is a long way from making this happen, every country has its own system, and the minimum system in place around the world is not good enough to facilitate real-time remote control. We still have many countries where in flight blind broadcasts are used.


For sure.

I can see this being more likely to happen on the transpacific/Atlantic flights first. Having pilots in central areas doing the taxiing, takeoff and landings but basically following the FMC after getting to cruise allowing a handful of pilots to "operate" many flights at the same time.

Thoughts?
Stay curious
 
User avatar
glen
Posts: 338
Joined: Thu Jun 30, 2005 4:43 pm

Re: Pilotless Aircraft

Thu Mar 15, 2018 3:02 pm

zeke wrote:
Those drones are not pilotless, and they don’t have to mix it up with busy ATC.

ATC technology is a long way from making this happen, every country has its own system, and the minimum system in place around the world is not good enough to facilitate real-time remote control. We still have many countries where in flight blind broadcasts are used.

:checkmark:
Not to forget weather related issues. While may be 99% of all flights could be technically handled by a good autopilot system or a remote operator, I don't see so soon a system which is able to handle typhoons or storms like we had it all over Europe this winter.
"The horizon of many people is a circle with zero radius which they call their point of view." - Albert Einstein
 
Andre3K
Posts: 365
Joined: Tue May 30, 2017 10:11 pm

Re: Pilotless Aircraft

Thu Mar 15, 2018 10:17 pm

CCGPV wrote:
Andre3K wrote:
Starlionblue wrote:

Technological advancement is rarely about what the public wants. Scientific progress does not pause for job retention barring typically futile government intervention.

If airlines could lower training costs dramatically by removing one or more pilots, they would have a tremendous incentive to push one-pilot and pilotless airliners.



That still begs the question, what good would it do for the flying public?

And do YOU even care about what happens to the thousands of pilots who would suddenly be competing for jobs at Walmart?


What are all these blacksmiths, farriers and streetsweepers going to do when these newfangled cars start being made? There will be millions of starving people in the streets!


Oh so we can use history as a barometer for the future now? If that's the case, I should be looking out for the next ice age or super volcano eruption.

Let me quote an article you might want to read

"The present worry about technological automation is that a new wave is coming, and it could be different this time. Previous rounds of automation have involved machines substituting for human and animal muscle power. Horses were put out of a job permanently because they had nothing to offer beyond muscle power – their population in the US went from 25m in 1900 to 2 million today.

We humans, by contrast, did have something else to offer: our cognitive skills. This is what the machines, powered by AI, are coming for this time. This time we will see a wave of cognitive automation."

Have a read instead of trying to shut down a legit argument as is typical of those on the right and those who don't want to tackle problems before they happen.

https://disruptionhub.com/automation-di ... this-time/
 
CCGPV
Posts: 1292
Joined: Tue Jan 16, 2018 5:18 pm

Re: Pilotless Aircraft

Thu Mar 15, 2018 11:12 pm

Andre3K wrote:
CCGPV wrote:
Andre3K wrote:


That still begs the question, what good would it do for the flying public?

And do YOU even care about what happens to the thousands of pilots who would suddenly be competing for jobs at Walmart?


What are all these blacksmiths, farriers and streetsweepers going to do when these newfangled cars start being made? There will be millions of starving people in the streets!


Oh so we can use history as a barometer for the future now? If that's the case, I should be looking out for the next ice age or super volcano eruption.

Let me quote an article you might want to read

"The present worry about technological automation is that a new wave is coming, and it could be different this time. Previous rounds of automation have involved machines substituting for human and animal muscle power. Horses were put out of a job permanently because they had nothing to offer beyond muscle power – their population in the US went from 25m in 1900 to 2 million today.

We humans, by contrast, did have something else to offer: our cognitive skills. This is what the machines, powered by AI, are coming for this time. This time we will see a wave of cognitive automation."

Have a read instead of trying to shut down a legit argument as is typical of those on the right and those who don't want to tackle problems before they happen.

https://disruptionhub.com/automation-di ... this-time/



What is it with people calling anyone they disagree with right wing crazies? Its amazing. I'm not a Republican, so there's that.

Of course automation is going to be an issue but its not going to spell the end of our society as we know it. We will adapt like we always have.

Also, jokes.
Stay curious
 
eidvm
Posts: 29
Joined: Wed Feb 17, 2016 7:11 pm

Re: Pilotless Aircraft

Fri Mar 16, 2018 7:51 pm

I think a large part of it will come down to cost vs reliability for airlines, for about an average cost of €400,000 annually to employ and keep trained a Captain and Co-pilot, you get a lot of flexibility out of them when it comes to operating with components unservicable, components that may now need to be fixed before deparrture to allow for autonomous flight, think TCAS, WX Radar, Nav Equiptment, Generators, Pneumatics, APUs,Satcom, CPDLC etc.

Weighing up the cost of a pilot, vs the cost of extra delays in the system (compensation, missed connections, rebooking flights, hotels and accommodation etc) due to aircraft reliability being reduced (or higher levels of reliability required if you like to think of it that way), may easily tilt the balance in favour of keeping a flexible human component in the system.

Just think of a widebody with 350 pax on board having to get booked into hotels for a night, fed, payed their EU261 compensation, rebooked with other airlines, rebooked onto connecting flights, for a flight that could go with today's technology. Very quickly the costs would outweigh the desired savings, once or twice in a year and you're worse off.

It all comes down to money.

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 8 guests

Popular Searches On Airliners.net

Top Photos of Last:   24 Hours  •  48 Hours  •  7 Days  •  30 Days  •  180 Days  •  365 Days  •  All Time

Military Aircraft Every type from fighters to helicopters from air forces around the globe

Classic Airliners Props and jets from the good old days

Flight Decks Views from inside the cockpit

Aircraft Cabins Passenger cabin shots showing seat arrangements as well as cargo aircraft interior

Cargo Aircraft Pictures of great freighter aircraft

Government Aircraft Aircraft flying government officials

Helicopters Our large helicopter section. Both military and civil versions

Blimps / Airships Everything from the Goodyear blimp to the Zeppelin

Night Photos Beautiful shots taken while the sun is below the horizon

Accidents Accident, incident and crash related photos

Air to Air Photos taken by airborne photographers of airborne aircraft

Special Paint Schemes Aircraft painted in beautiful and original liveries

Airport Overviews Airport overviews from the air or ground

Tails and Winglets Tail and Winglet closeups with beautiful airline logos