View Full Version : flying via remote

joe bick
29th Apr 2013, 12:22
this didn't seem to fit the other forums...when a 757 is being flown via remote control, I assume that cabin radio, transponder, are controlled by remote operator also. that sounds logical to a non pilot, but is it possible? if it were, then the CVR would pick up any radio transmissions?

29th Apr 2013, 12:41
Oh dear - not sure it fits this forum either.


Can't you find a conspiracy theory forum somewhere? Sit tight and some chaps in black helicopters will be along in a minute to help you.

29th Apr 2013, 12:44
Are you talking about an RC model?

Lon More
29th Apr 2013, 12:46
The controllers wear electric tinfoil hats and eat peanut butter sandwiches. They switch the transponders off because they like to surprise people

29th Apr 2013, 12:52
First off, I've only ever seen remote control applied to fairly large passenger aircraft as an experimental system, it is not, AFAIK, something that is easy to retrofit. The one case I've seen documented involved a life-ex airliner that was extensively adapted so that it could be flown remotely. The aim was to investigate the affect inside the aircraft of a very heavy landing, one that would exceed the capability of the landing gear and result in a moderately severe crash.

In that case it was a joint effort between the UK AAIB and the US FAA (and maybe NASA) and the mods to be able to remotely control the aircraft were extensive. They also found that it was impossible to remote fly the aircraft from any further away than a few hundred metres, so had to do it from a fairly fast light aircraft flying alongside.

In that case they rigged the remote control system to the autopilot, giving them fairly limited control authority. They had to use pilots to get the aircraft into the air and line up on the crash zone, after lowering the gear and flaps and establishing the aircraft in a shallow descent. The pilots then baled out and the remote control took over for the last few minutes, guiding the aircraft in to a crash close to the area in the desert where they'd set up cameras and instrumentation. Even then they struggled and couldn't quite get the aircraft to crash in the right place.

As to radio, the simple answer is that if the cockpit speaker is on then anything that comes over it will possibly be picked up by the CVR, depending very much on background noise levels. I suppose the most relevant point would be, why would anyone want to radio an aircraft with no one on board?

AFAICS, there's no application for remote control of passenger aircraft, and experience with UAVs shows that the control systems required are such that it isn't really practical to easily modify an airliner to get full control via a remote link. Having seen the challenges faced by the crew trying to get a remote control system to work just to gently try and nudge an aircraft to the right place for a crash I'd suggest it would be extremely challenging to get something that would give a full remote capability.

29th Apr 2013, 13:14
I have not heard of a large aircraft being flown by remote control except a couple of times under experimental conditions.
Is it possible to confuse 'fly by wire' with 'remote'?
In 'fly by wire' the aircraft is under the control of a computer which decides the 'best' and 'safest' settings for each manoeuvre required. the pilot inputs commands to the computer via his instrument panel or his joystick and has no direct connections with the aircraft control surfaces.

29th Apr 2013, 13:17
There is a thread running elsewhere http://www.pprune.org/engineers-technicians/513086-pilotless-commercial-aircraft.html?highlight=chucker on this. You obviously haven't been watching your children's cartoons!

29th Apr 2013, 16:09
I'm not allowed out of Jet Blast :(