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Spectators Balcony (Spotters Corner) If you're not a professional pilot but want to discuss issues about the job, this is the best place to loiter. You won't be moved on by 'security' and there'll be plenty of experts to answer any questions.

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Old 13th Jun 2017, 12:23   #21 (permalink)
 
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I put my family on a driverless train (in docklands), and there's not really that much difference between train drivers and pilots so I suppose in principle I would.
Scenario 1
DLR has major computer failure
DLR stops moving, or at worst DLR hits something and stops. Ambulance crews have quick access to injured.
DLR computer issue resolved
DLR starts moving again if undamaged.

Scenario 2
Aircraft computer goes wrong
My family and I hit the ground like a brick from six miles up.
Not quite the same. I can step out of a stationary train, this is a major step change.

Let's be honest, it's not a question of trust, I work with tech every single day and we manage failure every single day. Actually we manage unforeseen failure often too and even safety criticial software goes wrong, the current concept of human beings supported by safety enhancing software is a good one. Why remove the human back up element? Easy, cost.

I won't fly on a pilot-less aeroplane any more than I will fly on a windowless one commercially. Automatic cars might well be a thing but only for major towns and cities. Motoring is about real freedom to far to many people.

Remember they said vinyl would go, DVDs would disappear and video would kill the radio star......
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Old 13th Jun 2017, 14:05   #22 (permalink)
 
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I've always though that trains were the obvious target for full automation; very straightforward to control and runs in a (mostly) controlled and monitored environment. The guard would need to be able to perform simple manual shunting in the case of a failure, and of course to open and close the doors....

I guess train drivers have a better union.
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Old 14th Jun 2017, 09:46   #23 (permalink)
 
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There's a world of difference between a DLR type metro operation and a main line railway. On a DLR type operation, all the trains are exactly the same in performance, all stop at every station and do not run a high speed. On a main line railway there is a variety of different traction of different performance characteristics, stopping patterns vary and there are big speed differentials. Even on newly built high speed lines where all the trains broadly have the same performance there is still a driver on board to actually control the train. In part this is because few high speed lines are self contained, they start and finish their journeys on conventional lines (the main exception to this is Japan where the high speed network is standard gauge and the main rail network is narrow gauge).
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Old 15th Jun 2017, 01:20   #24 (permalink)
 
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I am accountable for MANY train drivers in my role, plus have done a fair bit of flying and worked in ground ops for a UK airline.

Let me assure you there IS a big difference between train drivers and pilots, I wouldn't put half of the individuals I know in the seat of a tug let alone a seat on the flight deck. Please don't use the salary as a comparison in technical ability, and professional attitude. They are not in the same league!
There are some very good people out there wasted driving trains, but there are many more.....as above!
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Old 15th Jun 2017, 17:41   #25 (permalink)
 
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I tried to move from airline flying to train driving. Unfortunately I listened to some well-meaning advice about how to do one of the tests and, although I passed it, my score was lower than if I'd just done it my own way and it wasn't high enough to progress. Still, I managed to get into the final 30 from over 2000 applicants. Therefore I'm still flying an airliner.
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Old 15th Jun 2017, 18:14   #26 (permalink)
 
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RAFAT you make a good point. The calibre coming through today is very good, although the odd one still slips through. The problem lies in the more experienced bods who were pretty rigorous assessments (and there are many).
Think about your motivations for applying. I hold a senior management position that I would ditch tomorrow to fly a turboprop, let alone a shiny jet!!

Mindful of thread drift, but important points made.
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Old 16th Jun 2017, 16:41   #27 (permalink)
 
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What I find ironic about these threads are the turning of blind eyes to facts and the use of emotion to back up points. Like saying that it's been "promised since the fifties" and "would you put your family onboard one?"

Many technological promises of the fifties etc were made by advertising agencies and dreamers so I fail to see the point there. And today no one is promising anything, just that they are looking into it.

As for putting your family onboard, well yes of course people will get onboard because people just choose the cheapest option (see Ryanair for lots of talk and no action). And removing pilots and all the associated cost of training, cockpits, etc will make the airline cheaper. And a computer does not have to be 110% safe, it just has to be as good as humans. Look at the regulatory requirements for engine failures etc, manufacturers don't make components that can't fail; they make components that can be reasonable expected to not fail and to achieve their design goal with a margin of safety. Not 110% perfect and safe. Why do we calculate V1, have depressurization, incapacitation drills? Because the systems are designed to cope with failures, not have zero failures.

The idea that a single computer fails and leads to a crash is also farcical. If you have ever flown an Airbus you will have seen computer failures and resets being carried out daily or at least weekly. And what magical powers does that require? Opening up a book with a list of resets and pulling a CB. You say that can't be automated? Really? At least 75% of the resets and ECAMs that the Airbus throws at you could best be described as spurious like temporary data link failures and momentary fuel low levels as the outer tanks transfer. You think a monitored, backed-up, redundant computer can't handle that? And yet at the same time Sully trust his life and the lives of his passengers to Normal Law on the A320 as he held full back stick into the Hudson. Do we trust these computers or not?

Well look at what's been automated in the last few years - the A380 has BTV, brake to vacate. The aircraft will modulate braking to the desired runway exit. No more of this magical pilot airmanship to modulate the brakes which a fair few do quite poorly anyway. Look at TCAS RAs in the Airbus family. The A380 now handles them via the autopilot and this will follow through to the rest of the family shortly. One of the most poorly flown maneuvers is being taken out of the hands of pilots and into the control of automation. Why? Is it because the computer is so useless or because the pilots regularly handle it poorly(in the sim mainly)?

Any thing we do as pilots can be broken down into it's component parts and then it becomes a series of simpler decisions. Something which automation does better than humans.

(PS The London Underground hasn't been fully automated purely due to the Unions)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Automa...on_Underground
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_o...subway_systems
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Old 16th Jun 2017, 21:31   #28 (permalink)
 
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When a computer has a) the judgement to navigate safely around or through a dynamic environment like a Terminal area with changing weather , traffic , a malfunction or two and dwindling fuel reserves , b) the judgement to discontinue or continue an approach , c) the judgement to think like an experienced and seasoned human aviator , and when a computer achieves all this at lower cost , with built in triple or quadruple redundancy in an environment that significantly adds value and safety , then perhaps we are 20 years to it being implemented. Not before. Not going to happen anytime soon folks.
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Old 17th Jun 2017, 23:13   #29 (permalink)
 
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a) You mean radar vectors? Or are you single-handedly flying your airliner through this busy terminal airspace?

Weather: ATC has the capability to pick up weather using primary radar and guide aircraft safely around it.

Traffic: That's what ATC and TCAS are for.

Malfunctions: Either benign as discussed previously having zero impact on the flight or not benign requiring a non-normal situation and non-normal handling by ATC etc.

Fuel Reserves: That's a binary decision making model that is not complex. Pilots regularly make low fuel situations worse by humming and hawing for too long or being too vague when communicating with ATC.

b) Judgement to continue or discontinue an approach: If only we could come up with some criteria based on aircraft configuration, speed, altitude, bank angle, rate of descent, thrust and deviation from instrument approaches that would help there... Like stable approach criteria in any modern airline. You think a computer can't monitor these things and make a decision here? And you'll come back with what if you're in fire/bomb on board/low on fuel. Again, quite easily programmed sensibly using the same decision making models human pilots currently use.

c) Experience and seasoned human aviators are that way because they have been exposed to numerous decisions and scenarios in their career. If these decisions and scenarios can be codified then what is to stop a decision making model being created based on that experience in computer form? Lower cost will come from not having to let inexperience human pilots make all the same mistakes to get to the position of the wise old aviator.

Triple and quadruple redundancy already exists as a requirement of the regulatory authority.

Why would a pilotless airliner need to significantly add value and safety? As good as a human wouldn't be good enough? Why not?
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Old 18th Jun 2017, 08:33   #30 (permalink)
 
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Malfunctions: Either benign as discussed previously having zero impact on the flight or not benign requiring a non-normal situation and non-normal handling by ATC etc.
You might want to read about the multiple failures experienced by QF32. You might also want to note that the Flysmart program could not provide a useful solution for the LDR. It takes a long time to develop an airliner from scratch and that is with the pilots accounted for. My children will have retired before a remotely controlled airliner is in service.
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Old 18th Jun 2017, 12:46   #31 (permalink)
 
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Originally Posted by Its Maui View Post
a) You mean radar vectors? Or are you single-handedly flying your airliner through this busy terminal airspace?

Weather: ATC has the capability to pick up weather using primary radar and guide aircraft safely around it.

Traffic: That's what ATC and TCAS are for.

Malfunctions: Either benign as discussed previously having zero impact on the flight or not benign requiring a non-normal situation and non-normal handling by ATC etc.

Fuel Reserves: That's a binary decision making model that is not complex. Pilots regularly make low fuel situations worse by humming and hawing for too long or being too vague when communicating with ATC.

b) Judgement to continue or discontinue an approach: If only we could come up with some criteria based on aircraft configuration, speed, altitude, bank angle, rate of descent, thrust and deviation from instrument approaches that would help there... Like stable approach criteria in any modern airline. You think a computer can't monitor these things and make a decision here? And you'll come back with what if you're in fire/bomb on board/low on fuel. Again, quite easily programmed sensibly using the same decision making models human pilots currently use.

c) Experience and seasoned human aviators are that way because they have been exposed to numerous decisions and scenarios in their career. If these decisions and scenarios can be codified then what is to stop a decision making model being created based on that experience in computer form? Lower cost will come from not having to let inexperience human pilots make all the same mistakes to get to the position of the wise old aviator.

Triple and quadruple redundancy already exists as a requirement of the regulatory authority.

Why would a pilotless airliner need to significantly add value and safety? As good as a human wouldn't be good enough? Why not?
You are obviously not a professional aviator or an engineer , but merely a spectator without a clue. Armchair professionals like yourself are not even aware of the ( shall I quote D. Rumsfeld ) known unknowns , let alone the unknown unknowns related to pilotless commercial operations globally. Keep dreaming , but if you want to add constructively to the topic , may I suggest that you educate yourself on the various talking points that you failed to convince any of us on. Next you`ll be espousing flying cars for everyone and cities on Mars. That stuff is 50-100 years away.
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Old 18th Jun 2017, 22:08   #32 (permalink)
 
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I've read De Crespigny's book. You may want to re-read it yourself. The Flysmart software did exactly as asked by the pilots and gave figures that wouldn't work as it had defaulted to wet runway. When the humans finally realised their error and changed it to dry runway they achieved the performance to land. Or in simpler terms crap in; crap out.

As for your children retiring before "before a remotely controlled airliner is in service."... Well have a read of this link and I'll grant you that it was a non-revenue, tech demonstrator, but it kind of happened already.

Pilotless flight trialled in UK shared airspace - BBC News

And for 6000pic, thank you for the personal attack and disparaging remarks that provide nothing to the discussion. I'd address whatever position you held in this civilised, hypothetical discussion but you don't have a clear one apart from trying to belittle me. Rock on dude
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Old 19th Jun 2017, 00:21   #33 (permalink)
 
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I've read De Crespigny's book.
Really? Then how does your pilotless scenario cope with the multiple failures that you haven't addressed? Remember that this is what you wrote in the first place:

Quote:
Malfunctions: Either benign as discussed previously having zero impact on the flight or not benign requiring a non-normal situation and non-normal handling by ATC etc.
QF32's failures were hardly benign and they certainly had a big impact on the flight. You haven't stated whether you are a pilot but I will assume that you are not because any non-normal handling is not conducted by ATC. They are there to facilitate what the pilots requirements are.

You also might want to re-read the link that you posted.

Quote:
An on-board pilot handled the take-off, from Warton, near Preston in Lancashire, and landing, in Inverness.
Once again if you were a pilot you would realise that the climb,cruise and descent are the easy part for the computer. Its the bit that gets the aeroplane into the air and onto the ground that will be exceptionally difficult. And before you start with the cliche"Aeroplanes can land themselves" ,airliners cannot get themselves into the air.

Its still a very long way from technology demonstrator to commercial reality. I still stand by my statement that my children will be retired before pilotless airliners are in service.
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Old 20th Jun 2017, 00:15   #34 (permalink)
 
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This discussion was based on the article that Boeing is looking into a future of pilotless airliners. I see the argument here so far is basically "if you aren't a pilot you wouldn't understand" and using CURRENT aircraft design and limitations to argue the point.

What difference does it make whether I'm a pilot or not? Ever heard the phrase play the ball not the man?

QF32 was an A380. The whole point is the near future will bring designs that will be pilotless. What's the point of talking about A380s? Future designs will be able to cope with minor and major ECAMs or equivalents in ways that are not a million miles away from how human pilots cope today.

Non-normal handling was not to mean handling of the ECAMs etc, it was the end comment about how to deal with busy airspace/weather/low fuel and tech issues. ATC will handle an autonomous airliner having technical issues the same way they deal with human pilots - vectors and priority.

Anyway, that's my final contribution to what I thought was a discussion, not a 200% I'm right or someone else is right contest. I can see there is no actual discussion going on here, just poor assumptions and denigration of users.
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Old 20th Jun 2017, 01:05   #35 (permalink)
 
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If you are going to make statements and provide links then of course you are going to be held to account if they are wrong or based on assumptions that are incorrect. The only future designs that the major manufacturers are currently working on, that they intend to actually sell to airlines, are reworkings of current designs. A380 A350 ,B777 ,B787, A320 ,B737. All designed and certified with two pilots on board and all intended to be around for the next 50 years at least. A reasonable estimate of the working life of my children.
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Old 20th Jun 2017, 02:56   #36 (permalink)
 
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Its Maui , no disrespect intended. The point we are trying to make is that moving towards pilotless / autonomous airliners has so many technological , non technological and other issues that we professional pilots know for certain that they will take several decades to be overcome. There are literally hundreds if not thousands of difficult issues , whether they be legal , liability , policy decisions and other hurtles to solve. Just wishing it to happen is not enough. It would cost hundreds of billions , at what benefit ? Cost benefit analysis ?
As an example , you said that " ATC will issue vectors and priority to an autonomous airliner with technical issues " means to me that you haven`t grasped the numerous issues involved. It`s not as easy as you think. There is more to it than vectors and priority. What if , for example , the weather is CAT 3A and there is an onboard navigation failure downgrading the aircraft to Cat 1 only , how about a blown tire on takeoff , a dual hydraulic failure ? Throw in some weather , icy runways , ...are you starting to get it ? The first crash and it`s game over.
Computers can`t solve everything. Computer code is susceptible to faults / failures / hacking. The algorithms would not cope. ATC has their limits. The sky is only so big. Things break.
Finally , as this is merely a discussion about pilotless airliners , don`t you think it would be beneficial to know and understand the issues in their entirety before you go yanking out the most critical safety device on the aircraft , the pilot ? I`m certain if you knew what we know , you would agree. No malice intended. Facts are facts and this issue of pilotless / autonomous airliners is most certainly something only your grandchildren " might " see.

Last edited by 6000PIC; 20th Jun 2017 at 03:11.
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Old 20th Jun 2017, 07:14   #37 (permalink)
 
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Originally Posted by 6000PIC View Post
Computer code is susceptible to faults / failures
And not the human beings?
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