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Gulfstream757
17th Sep 2012, 19:08
Yes I know this has been mentioned before but I can't see any real evidence of it happening in the near or even distant future.Personally I wouldn't fly on a fully automated aircraft and doubt others would either.Is it even possible not only from a technological standpoint but would unions let it happen?

Spitoon
17th Sep 2012, 19:23
Is anyone seriously proposing a pax-carrying UAS?

grounded27
17th Sep 2012, 19:35
There is a thread going in Freight Dogs right now.

http://www.pprune.org/freight-dogs/495545-drones.html

It will happen, when is the variable. Most likely big brother fisrt then comercially Freight (Fred Smith wants them bad), then PAX. I think it will be a long time comeing, by the time they are introduced into the commercial world they will be trusted and liked by the flying public.

Doors to Automatic
24th Sep 2012, 13:51
i reckon Ryanair first, then big brother, then the freight operators :ok:

galaxy flyer
24th Sep 2012, 16:00
Driverless cars are happening and quickly! Big section in WSJ on the subject, including driverless HGV. It will happen, does anybody mind getting in driverless subways?

Lyman
24th Sep 2012, 16:03
It is the third dimension that gives me pause, and the lack of rails.

742
24th Sep 2012, 18:24
A few points, if I may.

1. The current technology is REMOTE piloted, not unpiloted. And since both freight and passengers want to get from A to B quickly and need pressurization/environmental systems, the benefit of placing the pilot at the end of a data link is rather small.

2. The UAV accident rate is horrendous. I have read estimates of it being 30 times that for similar mannd aircraft doing similar missions. The hard numbers are not public, which says something right there.

3. It is difficult to get insurance for single pilot biz jet operations, why would the insurance companies suddenly be willing to go to -0- pilots in a commercial operation?

4. There are people who benefit from hyping this subject, and it makes for a good story.

RVF750
24th Sep 2012, 18:34
Won't happen.

Here's why;

Let's say you have 30 identical airliners on the ramp. One day one of them crashes....report ,etc, news story, loads of threads on here and at the end of the day Pilot Error. Meanwhile, the other 29 keep on flying, because it's always the pilots' fault, isn't it?

Step forward the future.

30 identical airliners, all drones. One crashes, hmm.

What will the passengers say, oh it's all right, that one was on version9.2.1 and the rest are now on ROS 9.3 so it's ok to fly. Yea, right......


That's what we're there for...sign for it, take the blame for it.

Lyman
24th Sep 2012, 18:54
The Drug testing industry would never relinquish its hold on the publics' fear.
The Unions would never relinquish their stranglehold on your paychecks.
The airframer would never relinquish its claim to the scapegoat (see above).
The airline would never pay the high cost of "no pilot". Pilots work cheaper.

Until the word "pilotless" changes its definition, there is no such condition. Even AI flight is piloted.

What you think you are sayng is not accurate, what you are discussing is "uncommanded" flight. And that cannot happen, ever, it is physically impossible.

Only the innumerates and not too bright bean counters consider it.

grounded27
24th Sep 2012, 20:40
What you think you are sayng is not accurate, what you are discussing is "uncommanded" flight. And that cannot happen, ever, it is physically impossible.

You post some good points based on aviation as you know it. Your flaw is everything is subject to change. In my 20 years in aviation I have seen nothing more than change, automation being the driver. Currently in the USA law has been passed to fund ADS-B installations and allowance for UAV's to land at domestic airports. Sir this change WILL happen, may it not be in your lifetime?? Who Knows!?

grounded27
24th Sep 2012, 21:51
Found this after the thread. UAV helo..

Boeing's Flexible Flyer: Unmanned Little Bird - YouTube

Lyman
24th Sep 2012, 22:00
Hi grounded27

Amazing? The first takeoff to landing pilotless flight happened in 1954...

My point is the nomenclature is misleading. Nothing about this is new, though systems have gotten wildly more capable.

SYSTEMS.... Someone will program the mission, always, just like in 1954.

The fidelity and dependability will be amazing, but the flight is commanded. The devil is waiting in the lav, smoking a cigarette, waiting for an abnormal.

Lyman
24th Sep 2012, 22:02
Or a charter....

grounded27
24th Sep 2012, 22:10
My point is the nomenclature is misleading. Nothing about this is new, though systems have gotten wildly more capable.

Sure it is, commercial feasibility is our question. No doubt soon we will have government (police) operated UAV's, someone on the ground will be monitoring. From the commercial aspect I see Freight, then commercial pax happening. It may start with a reduction to a single pilot (the F/E is almost gone). etc..

Lyman
24th Sep 2012, 22:18
So long as my point is made, fine.

No professional handler on the airframe? Sure, and police have been using RC a/c to snoop for twenty years...

Did you know that controls can be deflected by a pilot who moves nothing, merely "thinks" an input? The signals in a particular mapped area of his brain signal the solenoid, with wiring or wirelessly.

fMRI, mapped discretionary inputs.

But still, a pilot. Buck Rogers.

FlightPathOBN
24th Sep 2012, 22:48
FedEx is already testing this out....

Oktas8
26th Sep 2012, 06:57
When society changes its attitude to automation, I think it will happen. But certainly not in my professional life, probably not in my physical lifetime.

What I mean by attitude to automation is this: we have all sorts of automation right now in many vehicles, but all of it is designed to supplement and complement the human commander (except automatic trains, which are slow and ultra-short-range). One day I think that automation will be designed to replace the human driver, first optionally, then by default, then as a rule. One day, it seems likely that most vehicles on the road will be fully automatic - human input optional.

So, when car insurance requires the owner agrees to waive coverage if a human had control at the time of the accident (like DUI now), what will society think of pilotless aircraft? It may still be unacceptable, but the conversation will be a lot different to today's conversation.

Tourist
26th Sep 2012, 09:16
IN FOCUS: K-MAX variant offers glimpse of pilotless future (http://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/in-focus-k-max-variant-offers-glimpse-of-pilotless-future-373066/)


If you can get a helicopter to do it, then airline flying is easy.
There are many military UAVs now that are flown by mouse click on a map.

It is merely a passenger perception issue.

That is, however, a very big issue.

wiggy
26th Sep 2012, 10:29
If you can get a helicopter to do it, then airline flying is easy.


The flying,as in "polling", may be easy in your opinion, and it's straightforward to automate a lot of it, but how do you address the host of decisions made on any airline flight, because that really is the very big issue.

For example:

1. Boarding been so slow the APU burn has reduced the fuel in tanks to under that required on the flight plan by 100 kg - Do you go with the loaded fuel anyway, using the various bits of wriggle room available in the regulations or will the computer simply say "no" and demand the bowser is brought back for a top up?

2. ATC offering an alternative T/O runway or intersection to one that's been flight planned and "programed", ( What do you reckon HAL, stick with the plan or reprogram? )

3. The medical emergency on a winter's night over the north Atlantic at 30 degrees west - do you divert to x rather than y? Distance to x is marginally less than distance to y, but x has a single icy runway and wind that's just on limits, y takes 5 more minutes to get to but it has excellent medical facilities just off the airport, it's runways are dry and the wind is calm ( Are you listening HAL? ..HAL?... "I'm sorry David...;))?

etc,etc, etc others will have better examples.

Given the state of Artificial Intelligence at the moment and the lack of a "HAL" (and look what happened there) at the very least you'll need at least one individual sat in a room devoted to following a single flight and also a 100% reliable datalink......I'd suggest it's going to be cheaper and more reliable to have at least one decision maker onboard TFN.

felixflyer
26th Sep 2012, 10:36
I really cant see it happening, especially for PAX carring aircraft. Divide the cost of the pilot over the amount of passngers they have flown per year and you roughly get the price per ticket of having them up front. It would work out at a low figure (getting lower) and the amount of people put off flying without them would probably cost more.

Then there is the technical issue, automated trains, cars etc. can just default to stop if there is a problem, aircraft can't. There would need to be some way of issuing commands to the computer flying the aircraft, either from ATC or the airline. Who would do this? Then you get the situation where some 16 year old hacker in his bedroom has taken control of an A380 and is performing loops over his house. Imagine a 9/11 scenario where some terrorist group has taken control of a whole fleet of aircraft?:eek:

The freighters would also be at risk of this too, countries would not need to build missiles anymore, just recruit computer science graduates.

Golf-Sierra
26th Sep 2012, 13:54
1. Boarding been so slow the APU burn has reduced the fuel in tanks to under that required on the flight plan by 100 kg - Do you go with the loaded fuel anyway, using the various bits of wriggle room available in the regulations or will the computer simply say "no" and demand the bowser is brought back for a top up?

If the fuel is within a tolerance limit the flight dispatcher in the flight control center can override the warning and dispatch the flight. If it is below tolerance the plane says 'NO'. It's a machine after all - it isn't worried about getting its bonus or pressing on to make it home in time to tuck the kids in bed etc.

Besides - no one will be running an APU on the stand 20 years from now.

2. ATC offering an alternative T/O runway or intersection to one that's been flight planned and "programed", ( What do you reckon HAL, stick with the plan or reprogram? )


Issue a command to the aircraft over an interface. Isn't something similar being implemented already (i.e. ATC will send electronic messages to flight crews instead of communicating via voice)?


3. The medical emergency on a winter's night over the north Atlantic at 30 degrees west - do you divert to x rather than y? Distance to x is marginally less than distance to y, but x has a single icy runway and wind that's just on limits, y takes 5 more minutes to get to but it has excellent medical facilities just off the airport, it's runways are dry and the wind is calm ( Are you listening HAL? ..HAL?... "I'm sorry David...)?

Supervisor in flight control center is alerted, assesses situation and makes the call.

Divide the cost of the pilot over the amount of passngers they have flown per year and you roughly get the price per ticket of having them up front. It would work out at a low figure (getting lower) and the amount of people put off flying without them would probably cost more.

Quick look at the BA income statement show salaries and wages contribute nearly as much to cost as fuel does. How many tens of millions did Lufthansa lose on the recent strikes? These are not small figures we are talking about.

felixflyer
26th Sep 2012, 14:27
Staff costs are large to all companies, I was trying to show it from a cost per ticket point of view. How much would getting rid of the 2 guys up front add to the price of a ticket. This is what it would come down to.

Would you be willing to save £5-10 on the price of your ticket but not have a pilot up front. I think most people would say no.

Denti
26th Sep 2012, 14:35
Airlines have between 13 and 25% of the total cost in wages. However a pilotless aircraft will only safe around 5 to 7% of those costs as that is the average cost of pilots in airlines. However saving that would be offset by an increase in salaries in the technical and dispatch department and quite likely in the legal department.

The recent strikes at LH were cabin crew strikes, a cost you cannot offset with a pilotless aircraft as long as the airline still wants to offer some kind of inflight service. To replace them with an automated firefighting and evacuation system is technically possible, however one has to calculate the maintenance and weight penalty, not to mention the healthcare and insurance premiums for the case of a halon flooded cabin full of dieing passengers.

And of course one has to bring down the loss rate of up to 50% to acceptable levels (commercial civil aviation has an incident rate of 10^-7).

Golf-Sierra
26th Sep 2012, 15:19
It's not just the cost of the two guys up front - it is all the support functions as well. The admin staff who makes sure all the paperwork is in order, the chap who does the check in the sim, the sim, the person who books the stopover hotel, the stopover hotel, the chap who runs the airline's anonymous alcohol abuse hotline, the chap who assesses the complaints lodged by FOs about their captains' poor CRM standards, etc., etc., etc. It all adds up.

Think of the weight penalty of carrying all that equipment up in the front of the aircraft. Think of the additional seats you could stuff in the cabin. Think of the premium you could charge for the view form the first row.

The capabilities of human operators will also be a limiting factor for safety and system capacity. Building systems 'keep the pilot in the loop' limits what functions can be implemented.

felixflyer
26th Sep 2012, 15:28
The cost is largely irrelevant anyway IMO. I can't see it happening due to the other points in my first post.

The SSK
26th Sep 2012, 15:55
This is such a no-brainer that I am surprised rational people even bother to discuss it.
Who is going to pay for the certification process? It will take years and vast bucketloads of money.
No airline would put money down until it was tried, tested and accepted by every national authority in whose airspace they might want to fly the aircraft.
What incentive is there for the country I live in to accept pilotless airliners flying over its cities and into its airports?

But let’s assume that the financing and the politics are somehow magicked out of the equation.

Suppose you are the first to order a fleet of such aircraft. How will you sell them to the public? ‘Fly pilotless because …’
Suppose you are a competitor, still using pilots. What will be your selling pitch? ‘Fly with a highly trained professional because …’
Suppose you are a passenger faced with the choice between these two.

It just ain’t gonna happen.

Lyman
26th Sep 2012, 16:19
As I said, pilots are far cheaper. Given the trending lower still costs of drivers, the pitch will have to be: "it's safer." however, given a similar trend upward in pilot error, perhaps we will see pilotless air travel.

"ladies and gentlemen, we are having an issue, does someone know Windows 12?"

A-3TWENTY
26th Sep 2012, 17:03
The recent strikes at LH were cabin crew strikes, a cost you cannot offset with a pilotless aircraft as long as the airline still wants to offer some kind of inflight service. To replace them with an automated firefighting and evacuation system is technically possible, however one has to calculate the maintenance and weight penalty, not to mention the healthcare and insurance premiums for the case of a halon flooded cabin full of dieing passengers.


Pursers will be fired in pilotless airplanes.

The old pilot will be a new purser , with purser`s salary of course.If everything goes well he serves coffee , if an emergency arises , he goes to the cockpit to land the f%&/() plane.

:{:eek::yuk::yuk:

glum
26th Sep 2012, 17:10
"What incentive is there for the country I live in to accept pilotless airliners flying over its cities and into its airports?"


Because by the time that pilotless aircraft are accepted for cargo and passengers, the failure rates will be well abve that of human pilots.

All the people saying NEVER! really are not very forward looking. We've gone from 5 or 6 on the flight deck down to 2. Modern aircraft do almost all of the actual 'flying' and full autoland has been around for 40 years already.

UAV's are building up see-and-avoid capability, and the sector is learning all the time about how to do things better, what causes the loss of drones and how to improve sensor / decision software.

Assuming the bugs are ironed out (and they will be givien time) then who wouldn't want to fly on an aircraft that does exactly what its told and doesn't get tired, or grumpy, or drunk, or try to impress the cabin crew?

People used to think travelling above 20mph would be lethal... and that the world was flat.:eek:

wiggy
26th Sep 2012, 17:39
G-S

Underfueling on the ramp - OK. Now unexpected long taxi out, you've burnt all your taxi and contingency fuel and you're not yet airborne - would you still be confident enough to overide the plan? Would the dispatcher's judgement be in any way coloured by the fact that his/her backside is not strapped to the aircraft?

You see it the decision to accept a runway/intersection is simply to
Issue a command to the aircraft over an interface.

So ATC are going to "command" a runway or intersection change - who vets the command to see if the aircraft is capable of executing a take-off from the new location? This isn't just an issue of comms, you're going to need and pay for at least one decision maker/checker somewhere in "the loop".

As for the medical emergency you say "Supervisor in flight control center is alerted, assesses situation and makes the call."

OK, but this supervisor will need flawless communications, a very good knowledge of the aircraft's route network, the aircraft's capabilities and limitations( in fact he/she might need an old fashioned type rating) and I'd suggest to avoid the odd unnecessary diversion the supervisor needs a feel for what is really going on in the cabin and the state of the patient, the sort of thing you only get from face to face communication with the cabin crew, and I don't mean a video link.... sound's like you still need a decision maker on board to me.

If you insist it can all be done remote by having "supervisor/s" on call how many do you intend having? (Don't tell me, one or two to save wages, "we don't over procure just in case" ).

How is such a supervisor going to cope when, say, three aircraft contact him, all at the same time, "asking" for decisions because their destination field is out in thunderstorms and their fuel is getting very close to the minimum need for a diversion - oh and they all need the decision right now, and BTW one has had a lightning strike and no, you can't put two of the aircraft on hold :bored: to sort that problem out...........far fetched? Read recent threads.

How would a handful of supervisors perform if presented with a mass turnback from the Atlantic tracks, cf. 9/11

Given the state of "computing" (sorry for the old fashioned term but I briefly flirted with computing and programming before it was IT and well before I.M) as I see it for the forseeable future if you remove the decision maker from the aircraft then, each flight IMHO, will need a dedicated supervisor so you're not going to removing that many employees from the payroll any time soon, just moving their workplace, and in addition you will certainly need a 100% reliable data link - is there any such thing?

We all know we'll see unmanned freight ops of some sort probably in the next decade, IMHO you may see large passenger aircraft single pilot ops supported from "Mission Control" in the next 20-30 years, but commercial unpiloted, remotely commanded ops...not in my lifetime.....

As an aside:
no one will be running an APU on the stand 20 years from now.

I admire your optimism - I reckon large parts of the world (esp, parts of Asia and Africa) you'll still be running APUs of some sort in 2050.

Oktas8
27th Sep 2012, 01:41
There seems to be consistent miscommunication on this recurring topic.

Naysayers point out the limitations of conventional computer technology - quite right too. With modern computers it won't happen. But I speculate that the computer of 2062 will be unrecognisable to us today.

Yaysayers point out the benefits of computerisation. Yes, those benefits will be offset by accidents that are "preventable" by human standards. But I wonder how many accidents that happen today, would not happen if a sophisticated AI had been in charge? That's not a question anyone can answer today, because the AI in question won't be developed for many years.

So ATC are going to "command" a runway or intersection change - who vets the command to see if the aircraft is capable of executing a take-off from the new location?
Which part of a runway performance calculation is un-computable? Yes, there is some subjectivity, but I suggest very little in a highly SOP-driven airline.

How would a handful of supervisors perform if presented with a mass turnback from the Atlantic tracks, cf. 9/11
How about by pressing the big red button labelled "land immediately at nearest suitable airport" such as Boeing is developing now? Coupled of course with the big red button in small airport control towers labelled "I'm full up, don't accept any more automatic aeroplanes". (I note that "developing" doesn't mean "will be achieved soon".)

I don't mean to imply that this will happen soon, or even that it will definitely happen. It's all speculation. But given computer advances, I think many of the objections will simply cease to be relevant in future.

Cheers to all our grandchildren!

727gm
27th Sep 2012, 04:22
All this assumes people living beneath these unmanned multi-ton projectiles are good with no one onboard, or no one onboard being in command of the aircraft. This should ONLY be the case in an actual war zone.

Nautical matters would never countenance such a thing (lack of a Captain) unless the craft has been dispatched in anger (e.g. torpedo). And watercraft can't come get you as you sit in your bed or at work or school.

Unless constrained on rails or in a tube or vertical shaft, a transportation vehicle HAS to have someone onboard to be legally responsible for its operation. Current and future technological advances aside, there has always been, and I believe will continue to be that legal requirement.

Only an operator whose life and limb is committed could really be held responsible. And I wouldn't want ANY large unmanned equipment over my head, EVER!

wiggy
27th Sep 2012, 09:32
Which part of a runway performance calculation is un-computable? Yes, there is some subjectivity, but I suggest very little in a highly SOP-driven airline.


It's nearly all computable..but then do you take the runway which gives the least delay in getting airborne or the runway which gives you least track miles - I suppose to save the cost of resolving that sort of conflict I guess we could give HAL a coin ( of low denomination) for that sort of decision :ooh:.

Quote:
"How would a handful of supervisors perform if presented with a mass turnback from the Atlantic tracks, cf. 9/11"
How about by pressing the big red button labelled "land immediately at nearest suitable airport" such as Boeing is developing now? Coupled of course with the big red button in small airport control towers labelled "I'm full up, don't accept any more automatic aeroplanes". (I note that "developing" doesn't mean "will be achieved soon".)

"Hello Gander, the supervisor in the office pressed the big red button, I've headed your way, burnt fuel getting here - and now you tell me you're full up :oh:".....

because the AI in question won't be developed for many years.

On that we agree, and I also agree it may be developed but who knows when? But until the advent of full,meaningful A.I. I can probably ask HAL more questions than he can ever be programed to answer ( but I promise that I won't! ).

I know that laying off the pilots is no doubt popular in some circles but it shows in some cases at least a deep lack of understanding of a pilot's role on board the aircraft throughout the flight, the current legal situation that the likes of 727gm alludes to (" remote supervisor error" anyone) and a lack of understanding of the current capabilities of AI.

Cheers to all our grandchildren!

That might be about the right timescale.....

glum
27th Sep 2012, 09:34
727:

And yet I'm sure you'd be quite happy to have a computer provide life support and assist with diagnosis of nasty diseases should you fall ill or have an accident...

Or are you under the impression a real person stands next to your bed monitoring your breathing and heart rates 24/7 in intensive care? :rolleyes:

wiggy
27th Sep 2012, 09:38
glum

Out of interest what does such a machine do if it can't "assist with diagosis" or "recognises" a situation where it has reached the limit of the life support it can provide.

(My better half has worked in A&E, so I think I know the answer)

Dg800
27th Sep 2012, 09:47
glum

Out of interest what does such a machine do if it can't "assist with diagosis" or "recognises" a situation where it has reached the limit of the life support it can provide.

(My better half has worked in A&E, so I think I know the answer)

I know, I know! [raises hand frantically]

Sounds an alarm to alert a qualified human operator? ;)

What would happen if the hospital were to be deserted at that time? My guess is some poor git would surely die. :=

Ian W
27th Sep 2012, 09:48
An interesting discussion. UAS have been around for a long time - I was indirectly working with them in the early 1970's they are continually becoming more sophisticated. Almost all the UAS today are military or 'public' owned they are not commercial aircraft. This is not because commercial operators do not wish to have them; it is that regulations do not allow commercial operations. For this reason the accident rate is a little misleading as military operators, especially in war zones view their UAS to some extent as consumables accepting an attrition rate hugely higher than any commercial operator could countenance. This is the raison d'etre for UAS - they are sent into conditions that could not be risked by manned aircraft. See this brief article about Lockheed KMAX Navy, Marines Share Lessons of Cargo UAV Missions in Afghanistan | Defense Update Portal (http://defense-update.com/20120724_navy-marines-share-lessons-of-cargo-uav-missions-in-afghanistan.html). The KMAX like Boeing's Little Bird are 'Optionally Manned' aircraft; both can carry passengers (not necessarily pilots) this could be used for casevac operations in dangerous conditions.

Optionally piloted aircraft modifications of existing aircraft are not limited to slow aircraft see Air Force Flies QF-16 Target Drone | Aero-News Network (http://www.aero-news.net/index.cfm?do=main.textpost&id=d5f1caad-aa2a-4c46-8cb8-6c69a8a6b21b) the automated Optional UAS version of the F-16.

Given that these UAS are being flown into conditions that would stretch the capabilities of an on-board pilot, it is difficult to continually claim that an on-board pilot is necessary when conditions are difficult. There is a huge difference between an automated pilotless aircraft and a remotely piloted aircraft. Currently the nascent certification systems are geared to remotely piloted aircraft not to automated pilotless aircraft. The pilots in command are expected to be required to have the same instrument ratings etc as the pilot of a manned aircraft. This reduces the attractiveness (from the accountant's point of view) for the idea of an unmanned airliner as the costs will be very similar any savings in manpower being swallowed by expected increases in hull insurance.

I fully expect that there will be moves toward reducing crews. In a way we are already seeing this with so called 'cruise pilots' - perhaps the argument will be made that only one 'cruise pilot' need be in the cockpit if a remote pilot can be alerted to problems and fly the aircraft. Remember, two man operation was inconceivable only a few years ago, yet now is standard practice. As automation becomes more and more intrusive with ACAS-X and automated TCAS RA response by the FMC; super density operations where the pilot is not allowed (OK extremely strongly discouraged) to take over from automation (as is the case now with RVSM airspace); RNP 0.1 approaches etc. etc.; It will become normal for pilots to rarely if ever control the aircraft. How many hands-on control minutes does the average pilot get in a transoceanic flight? - 5 minutes? It is a creeping move towards full automation.

I expect one pilot operation in freighter aircraft first with the 'safety pilot(s)' being remote and able to fly the entire trip if necessary.

Would I fly on a totally automated aircraft? With some of the pilots I have flown with I could even prefer full automation. :)

glum
27th Sep 2012, 13:40
"Out of interest what does such a machine do if it can't "assist with diagosis" or "recognises" a situation where it has reached the limit of the life support it can provide."
(My better half has worked in A&E, so I think I know the answer)

But what if the accuracy and reliability of the machine wasn't up to the job, and simply didn't raise the alarm?

The point being that we have developed those machines to the point they are very accurate, very reliable and can be left to monitor a patient without human intervention.

CT scanners are used everyday to help diagnose conditions, and surgeons make decisions based on the data they provide. Again, if the machine wasn't there a lot more exploratory surgery would be carried out, or people would simply die through lack of diagnosis (brain tumours for example - hard to carry out exploratory surgery in the skull!).

felixflyer
27th Sep 2012, 14:21
The weak link will always be the necessary interface between a ground based operator and the aircraft. If somebody can design it somebody else can get around it.

As for single crew, what happens if this person flips out. Didn't this happen on a Fedex aircraft some years ago? What happens if they become incapacitated for whatever reason.

Besides, at the moment people are paying the airlines thousands to sit up there, i'm suprised there not asking for more of them.

Golf-Sierra
27th Sep 2012, 21:07
Yes, perhaps the crash rate of drones is high, but then again there is no insight into what exactly goes wrong since this is classified. Someone did point out that they are used in very extreme environments.

I would assume that the airframe itself in drones is fairly conservative, hence relatively inexpensive which makes the whole thing expendable. Maybe that is one of the advantages the remote technology offers - you can really push it to the limits since you don't have to worry about the human pilot aboard. And since you don't engineer it to carry a human it is much cheaper. You produce many airframes and then just tweak the software - so it is possible to test many solutions in parallel.

Once the base software (i.e. algorithms) is developed for a drone the solution will be relatively easy port to a different airframe with parametrisation. Software engineers are good at that sort of thing.

The CIO at one of the companies I used to work for loved to just walk in to the datacentre and remove a few random chosen power or network cables from the panels - this is how he tested our failover really worked. I guess the same approach can be applied for the drone software. If you can complete the mission in an ideal environment - remove the pitot probe and modify the software so it understans pitch/power. Got that working? Switch off one engine and repeat. Got that working? Switch off both engines in cruise and program it to glide to a landing. Got that working? Disable the rudder actuator, or the gps receiver, or the flap motor, or the INS. etc. Yes, humans can cope with all of these issues, but the truth is the likelihood a pilot will encounter any of these in his/her flight career is probably well below zero - so we need to rely on recurrent simulator training and hope that when something bad occurs the humans can recall what they learned. A computer system, once programmed to cope with any of these situation - will never forget or become rusty. It will be able to recall the required actions with 100% accuracy.

I am also sceptical that we will ever (well at least in say the next 50 years) see a passenger aircraft which has no one 'technically' overseeing its operation on board. I can, however, imagine that we will no longer have two persons up front solely devoted to controlling the plane. There will be a 'flight manager' type role who will be able to intervene in the case of an exceptional situation, i.e. commanding the system to proceed to the nearest vs. the best airport in the case of a medical emergency, commanding the system to land immediately in the case of some cabin incident, initiating the emergency procedure in the case of some major communication failure, etc. etc. This person will not be able to directly 'manipulate the controls', merely issue overall commands. If anything is non-standard the system will seek 'flight centre' approval, if this is not possible it will revert to an emergency procedure, or perhaps seek 'human approval' from authenticated managers of other aircraft in the vicinity?

It wasn't that long ago that lifts (aka elevators) had a driver ;-)

Golf-Sierra

grounded27
28th Sep 2012, 00:17
OK, but this supervisor will need flawless communications, a very good knowledge of the aircraft's route network, the aircraft's capabilities and limitations( in fact he/she might need an old fashioned type rating) and I'd suggest to avoid the odd unnecessary diversion the supervisor needs a feel for what is really going on in the cabin and the state of the patient, the sort of thing you only get from face to face communication with the cabin crew, and I don't mean a video link.... sound's like you still need a decision maker on board to me.

I think not. Anything from a big red "oh ****" button to a keyboard and monitor to send the nature of the emergency, could have quick buttons... etc. Why the heck do you think we have developed an ADS-B network and are using a CPDLC system???

727gm
28th Sep 2012, 03:42
Reply to:
glum

All in the confines of a hospital room, does not apply at all....

We're talking transport, of vehicles out in the real world, where they may interact with those involved(riding), and those uninvolved(everyone else) in said transport.

Sure, it(unmanned aircraft operations) can be mandated by a dictatorship, or "weaseled in" unjustly by the traitors in thrall to "interested parties", but it will hopefully be stalled, stymied, and blocked for good by right-minded, thinking people. War zones ONLY!

glum
28th Sep 2012, 08:52
Seems you're not going to see the comparison, and already have your mind made up. Fair enough, we all have our opinions.

Maybe I've read too much science fiction, but from what I know working within a forward looking aviation industry, I can see this happeneing within my lifetime... :ok:

wiggy
28th Sep 2012, 10:10
from what I know working within a forward looking aviation industry,..

Interesting point.

I wonder many here have direct "hands on" experience of what goes on on a commercial flight deck, both on good days and on bad days, and how many here haven't but work elsewhere in aviation and consider themselves well informed on the subject

I'll chuck my 15000+ flying hours plus into the pot.....

Ian W
30th Sep 2012, 10:36
Golf_Sierra
I would assume that the airframe itself in drones is fairly conservative, hence relatively inexpensive which makes the whole thing expendable. Maybe that is one of the advantages the remote technology offers - you can really push it to the limits since you don't have to worry about the human pilot aboard. And since you don't engineer it to carry a human it is much cheaper. You produce many airframes and then just tweak the software - so it is possible to test many solutions in parallel.

The airframe, avionics and engine of a UAS are built to meet the UAS requirement. Some are effectively lawnmower engine driven with simple COTS OEM computer parts with robbed parts of cell phones. They are good enough to meet the customers' specs. The very fact that they do not have to meet the demands of safety for a pilot reduces the reliability demands. They are then used in battlespaces where some are seen as almost disposable items. Comparing their reliability to an aircraft that meets 14 CFR part 23 or 91 or whatever is a meaningless exercise.

However, as they start to be used for civil applications in normal domestic environments safety of the people below them on the ground demands that they cannot be allowed to have high failure rates, have control links that drop out or can be hacked etc. Therefore, new Minimum Aviation System Performance Standards for UAS are being developed and expect both FAA and EASA to impose them in the next two or three years.

There are already passenger carrying UAS - Boeing Little Bird for example. There will be more in the years to come. These UAS will need to be certified to the same level as manned passenger carrying aircraft (unless they are government owned).

To Flexiflyer,
As for single crew, what happens if this person flips out. Didn't this happen on a Fedex aircraft some years ago? What happens if they become incapacitated for whatever reason.

As the intentional crash of the Egyptair aircraft showed, there is nothing really different with manned aircraft except in the 'manned UAS' case the ground control can take over direct control of the aircraft. The pilot could be seen to be what is currently called a 'cruise pilot' only there to tend the automation in cruise flight - or alternatively - the automation could be seen as the 'cruise pilot' and the pilot be there as the 'captain' to handle exceptions. But in both cases there would be pilots on the ground who can take over remotely.

glum
1st Oct 2012, 09:08
Wiggy: "I wonder many here have direct "hands on" experience of what goes on on a commercial flight deck, both on good days and on bad days, and how many here haven't but work elsewhere in aviation and consider themselves well informed on the subject"

Does one need to be well informed about the 'old' ways of doing things if you're designing a 'new' way?

Thought this was interesting - did anyone else realise just how far down this road ( :E ) we are?

Google's self-guided car could drive the next wave of unemployment | Technology | The Observer (http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2012/sep/30/google-self-driving-car-unemployment)

Hydromet
1st Oct 2012, 09:22
Non-aviator here.
Last night there was a piece on the box about 'drones' being used to spot illegal fishing off the Australian coast. It was said that they could operate at 1500'. My question (well, one of many) is , how do other aircraft operating in the area avoid these babies? Do they file flight plans, or are aircraft notified that they are operating in the area? I'd imagine that they would be difficult to see.