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meadowrun
1st Aug 2016, 20:36
The technological capability may indeed be close but there is one insurmountable obstacle to its implementation.


Computers and systems fail (just ask Mr. Draper who has had more computer problems than anyone I have ever known, except for Amazon, BA, NATS, a few banks, well you know).


More and more computers will find their way onto them but once in awhile there will be faults ranging from one instrument INOP to aircraft INOP.


And that's why human types will always be there to try to save the day if there are human types onboard (and the occasional dog).

Lonewolf_50
1st Aug 2016, 20:49
For me they'll never happen, as I won't board one even if they are built and certified.

Wingswinger
1st Aug 2016, 20:52
Me neither. Two humans, please, with a vested interest in staying alive.

Tu.114
1st Aug 2016, 21:07
The basic difference between an aircraft and a ground vehicle is that in a ground vehicle, a simple stop is sufficient to save the day in most situations. Just cut the power to all engines and possibly apply some brake and already no more intervention is required to allow the people on board to abandon their computerized ride.

All those vehicles have 3 dimensions that need to be controlled: fwd/aft, left/right, and forward speed. Now let us add the next dimension: altitude. In a theoretical computer-controlled submarine, this is sort of easy: in case of computer breakdown, just blow the tanks and have it pop up to the surface to make it 3-dimensional again. A sufficiently sized pressurized air reservoir connected to the dive tanks via a valve that defaults to open in case of power loss is all that it takes here to get rid of the unwanted 4th dimension.

In an aircraft, this is way less trivial, as we all know. So while ground vehicles may well be driven by a computer without any human on guard, I dare say that it will take a long while until the problem is solved: nothing less is needed than a guiding system that will keep working even in case of a total breakdown and complete loss of power. An oxymoron if I ever saw one.

So I dare say that neither of us are at risk of facing this option in the foreseeable future. I certainly have no bigger desire to see me or my family board one such contraption than anyone else...

Cazalet33
1st Aug 2016, 21:12
What is the principal cause of the majority of accidents in piloted aircraft?

G-CPTN
1st Aug 2016, 21:31
What is the principal cause of the majority of accidents in piloted aircraft?
Hitting the ground?

Loose rivets
1st Aug 2016, 21:56
It will happen.

I recall posting, rather meanly, that out of concern for the passenger's sensibilities there would be two people up front dressed as pilots who knew precious little about flying an aircraft - and then added, Oh wait, that's how it is now.

Of course, it infers that us old-timers can waggle the controls better than the youngsters who are barred from even breathing on controls, let alone waggling them. But then I see spectacular flying in endless clips on YouTube and have to concede . . . that there are still a lot of old-timers flying. :p

Now, a computer or three up front.

Such computers will have stored in their up-to-date brains, the reason for every aircraft accident that ever occurred. They will be able to access this record in a fraction of a second and take action in the time it takes a young human to remember whether pulling makes cows bigger or smaller, and an old human convert post-snooz slupping noises into important sounding hurumph sounds while pulling on the controls in the certain knowledge that the cows he sees will get smaller. It is a sad fact that many an aged captain has seen cows where no cows exist . . . and indeed, sheep, all too often alongside woolly mammals being ridden by Chief Pilots. It has to be said, these visual artefacts do wear off within ten minutes of awakening - if the coffee is strong enough.

No, put a human on a flight-deck, and you'll have the flight being affected by humanness. Humanness is perhaps the worst possible thing you could have around aviation and in particular on a flight-deck.

tartare
1st Aug 2016, 22:39
Much as I love technology Loose, I have to agree with the previous posters.
I wouldn't climb onboard a pilotless plane.
At least one piece of skin in the game up the front in seat 0A please... preferably two pieces of skin...

Tankertrashnav
1st Aug 2016, 23:14
I'm with Lonewolf and the others here, there's no way I would get on an aircraft without a human being up front.

Loose Rivets - your thesis falls down on one major point. Until your computers have been built by other computers, which have themselves been built by computers ... etc, you haven't avoided the human factor, just placed it at one remove.

A bit of thread drift. The technology for driverless trains has been around for years (see the Dockside Light Railway in London). Watching a recent programme about the London Underground we saw tube drivers sitting back and earning 60k p.a. for doing a job that a computerised system could do just as well (and on certain routes does 90% of it anyway). With the strength of the rail unions, though, there is absolutely zero chance of driverless trains on that system in the foreseeable future.

tdracer
1st Aug 2016, 23:29
What many of you are conveniently forgetting is that similar comments were made years ago regarding things we now consider common place. "I'll never fly on an airplane with":
Plastic wings
Fly by wire
Computer screens instead of round dials
etc.

It won't happen fast, not likely in my lifetime (and I'm planning on another 40 years :E). But "never" is a really, really long time and computers are getting better exponentially - humans not so much. Every time there is a CFIT crash, every time there is a Germanwings 9525 event, we inch a little closer to taking the ultimate pilot authority away from the human and giving it to a computer. 40 or 50 years ago, crashes were split roughly evenly between mechanical and pilot error. Now days, mechanical failure caused crashes are extremely rare, while CFIT is the leading cause of accidents and pilot suicide is a significant contribution.


I foresee a time (not during my lifetime, at least I hope not) when automated cars are so much safer and more efficient than the human driven ones that human drivers will be banned or limited to very specific zones. When that day comes, when CFIT and other pilot error caused accidents mean that the trip to the airport is no longer the most dangerous part - the public will accept that pilots are no longer needed.

Loose rivets
1st Aug 2016, 23:36
Tankertrashnav

Mmm . . . you're right, but then even after generations of computers designing their progeny, there'll always be the spectre of HAL being one of the original designers. We'd better have some humans up front, and I'd better not tell any of my stories that the Rivetess used to say would stop folk flying.

i.e., the first ever flight I did in a jet transport aircraft without a training captain on board was with a captain who was also on his first unsupervised flight. Nice day at LHR and the dispatcher had obviously done a great job with his swizzle wheel, as the old boy got in a muddle with. Left hand on the tiller, right on the power levers. 80 knots. Left hand off tiller and onto the controls. V1 both hands on controls.

It was at this point that he got in a muddle.

At V1/Vrotate the aircraft, a BAC 1-11, took off by itself and settled into a perfect V2 +8 kts. So, proof perfect of there being no need for a pilot in that phase of the flight at least. ;)

parabellum
1st Aug 2016, 23:42
Until sophisticated terrorism is totally eradicated the risk of suicidal terrorists either taking over a ground control station, or using a mobile transmitter capable of jamming a station is far too great. Imagine the carnage if just one ground station was taken over and false commands transmitted or a mobile ground station was able to jam a legitimate ground station and transmit false directions over the top?

meadowrun
2nd Aug 2016, 00:34
Imagine the carnage if just one ground station was taken over and false commands transmitted or a mobile ground station was able to jam a legitimate ground station and transmit false directions over the top?


I see a movie.........let's call it ...uh...Die something.....

malcolm380
2nd Aug 2016, 00:47
There can't be a prooner who hasn't already seen this but here goes..... the aircrew of the future will be 1 human and 1 dog.... the human is there to feed the dog, and the dog is there to bite the human if he/she touches anything

Lonewolf_50
2nd Aug 2016, 00:59
@tdracer

Having put up with fly by wire as a pilot, no, I will not. If I can't trust pilots, then I won't fly. I sure as (censored word here) will not trust a computer whose most infamous celebrity is General Protection Fault and whose inability to do other than raise false indications of overspeed on a T-700 engine for about three years is its calling card: electricity only knows two states.

On
and
Off

I'll never get on, so I don't have to worry when HAL f(**)s off.

fujii
2nd Aug 2016, 03:20
If there is FOD on the RWY, will tower control the TOGA?

david1300
2nd Aug 2016, 03:24
...All those vehicles have 3 dimensions that need to be controlled: fwd/aft, left/right, and forward speed. Now let us add the next dimension: altitude. In a theoretical computer-controlled submarine, this is sort of easy: in case of computer breakdown, just blow the tanks and have it pop up to the surface to make it 3-dimensional again. A sufficiently sized pressurized air reservoir connected to the dive tanks via a valve that defaults to open in case of power loss is all that it takes here to get rid of the unwanted 4th dimension.

In an aircraft, this is way less trivial, as we all know....

So what we need then is the reverse of ballast tanks, and we can flood the aircrafts anti-gravity tanks with something heavy (Mercury would be good - it's heavy and liquid) and the pilotless aircraft returns to ground - just like the opposite of the submarine. There might be a slight jolt at the aircraft/ground interface, but at least everyone is down :ok:

West Coast
2nd Aug 2016, 04:45
Otto the pilot a good compromise for the must have one crowd?


https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=rQbj9uvYL8I

Hempy
2nd Aug 2016, 06:18
No, put a human on a flight-deck, and you'll have the flight being affected by humanness. Humanness is perhaps the worst possible thing you could have around aviation and in particular on a flight-deck.

http://i.huffpost.com/gen/1564677/thumbs/o-US-AIRWAYS-FLIGHT-1549-WING-900.jpg

Tu.114
2nd Aug 2016, 06:43
David, it can be much easier than that. Only some pyrotechnics are required: two explosive squibs at dedicated weak links in the wing spars and a sufficient amount of rockets to fire parachutes. In case of major problems, dump the wings and possibly the elevators as well and have the fuselage descend gracefully on well-placed parachutes. Of course, pulling such a stunt at M.85 might be more of an issue than trying this at around Va, but this is for the engineers to solve... and I still prefer to observe such a device from a sufficient distance.

Fareastdriver
2nd Aug 2016, 08:39
Whom do you blame if the aeroplane crashes.

Haraka
2nd Aug 2016, 08:42
"Pilotless Passenger Aircraft Will Never Happen"

I was always taught to beware of making absolute statements when offering predictions.
We have been taking direct control away from the pilot for decades , starting initally with powered controls, artificial feel then FBW and onwards .
Logically the pilot will eventually be removed entirely from the control and operation loops, when society in general finds the concept acceptable. Over thirty five years ago I recall there was serious academic debate in the industry as to which crew member to remove in going from two to single seat combat aircraft.
The process could probably be introduced with something like drone battlefield casevac (" Fancy the alternative, Buddy?") within a few years, then gradually encroach into wider, eventually civilian, operations as confidence builds and old objections ( and objectors) die away.

As I've often remarked, my Grandmother would refuse to go in a lift ( elevator) unless there was a lift operator in attendance.......

Tankertrashnav
2nd Aug 2016, 10:39
Hempy - what do they say about a picture being worth a thousand words?

In that scenario I'll take Sully over a computer every time.

tdracer
2nd Aug 2016, 13:20
In that scenario I'll take Sully over a computer every time. I find it amusing they so many people point at that incident as the shining example of why we need human pilots. No disrespect to Sully, but an all engine power loss event is relatively easy to program for - the computer can take airspeed, altitude, aircraft configuration and gross weight, and determine the max glide range, determine what potential landing spots or open areas exist within that range (taking account of altitude loss for turning) and determine where putting the aircraft down gives the highest probability of success and/or lowest risk to life, and do it all in a fraction of a second. Sully did great, but a properly prepared computer could have done at least as well.

Basically, anything that has happened can be accounted for - total power loss, unreliable airspeed/air data, complete hydraulic failures, etc. As just one example, after the Sioux City DC-10 crash, Boeing was working on an algorithm that would automatically control the aircraft with differential thrust if there was a complete hydraulic failure (I don't know what ever become of it).
It's the totally new, never happened before, unknown scenario where humans have the advantage of being able to think 'out of the box'.

Geordie_Expat
2nd Aug 2016, 18:09
Loose Rivets


I cannot believe that someone who has as many computer problems as your good self can possibly contemplate this :confused:

Cazalet33
2nd Aug 2016, 19:04
I'll take Sully over a computer every time.

Could he have landed that thing without a computer?

If a computer had been in overall charge, wouldn't it have decided to take the much less risky and much more energy-efficient and much less expensive option of landing at Teterboro?

Mechta
2nd Aug 2016, 19:13
The very first man-made passenger carrying aircraft had no pilot.

The duck and the rooster may have been capable of flight, but they weren't piloting the Montgolfiers' balloon, and it is most unlikely the sheep was either.

Cazalet33
2nd Aug 2016, 19:19
He was a footman, and a very frightened passenger.

Fairdealfrank
2nd Aug 2016, 19:40
As I've often remarked, my Grandmother would refuse to go in a lift ( elevator) unless there was a lift operator in attendance.......

Ah, that was a job with its ups and downs................

I'll get my coat!

Saintsman
2nd Aug 2016, 19:44
It's all very well if the computer knows what the problem is.

I recall an incident where a slat actuator sheared. The inner and outer actuators still operated and bent the slat like a banana. All indicators were fine but the pilots knew that something was not right.

They were able to walk down the cabin and look out the windows and see the problem - possibly something that had never happened before and may not happen again.

Can you programme a computer to deal with the unknown?

Loose rivets
2nd Aug 2016, 21:49
I cannot believe that someone who has as many computer problems as your good self can possibly contemplate this

Oh, be fair. Four of my five computers are just there to mess around with - to learn. Learning is always costly, especially with a fuzzy old brain. Now think about a shiny new aircraft that has the world's most powerful mobile computer installed. It, as near as the definition can be allowed, will be perfect. Running it will be the perfect code. Erm, where have I heard that before? :p

parabellum
2nd Aug 2016, 22:07
aircraft that has the world's most powerful mobile computer installed.


Loose - Would that be the most powerful or the cheapest!

Denti
2nd Aug 2016, 22:38
Somehow they only put proven technology on aircraft, well, mostly, apart from batteries apparently. Coupled with the rather long development cycle that leads to very outdated computers on board of airplanes rather than the latest technology. Still, at some point both software and computers will be far enough along to have some real AI, which would be needed to make airplanes truly autonomous. As tdracer said, humans are pretty good at the unexpected, computers currently are not.

And yes, i do know the percentage of human factors in incidents and accidents. The other side of the medal however is rarely mentioned, the amount of issues that are silently and succesfully handled by two human pilots when the computers play up again. Even on old and "proven" technology like the A320 series, which is still, even in its NEO update that is now entering airline service, just technology from the 80ies of the last century.

tdracer
2nd Aug 2016, 23:00
Would that be the most powerful or the cheapest!
Whatever else you say about aircraft avionics, the word "cheap" can not be applied.

parabellum
4th Aug 2016, 00:50
Back in my GA days one could fly a Piper, with Bendix equipment, or a Beechcraft with considerably more reliable equipment, in those days Bendix was the cheap option. Just saying.

ExXB
4th Aug 2016, 11:10
Let's see. You need what (?), 8 crews per aircraft. 16 people?

An average salary/benefits of 100~150k (probably more).

So 1,600,000~2,400,000 salary & benefit costs per year.

Revenue value of another 6~12 seats that could be added to the aircraft - another 2,5 million I'd guess

So 5 million per aircraft, per year. 100 million over 20 years. (Less the cost of dog biscuits during intermediate phase)

NEVER say Never. With these kind of numbers it will happen. The question is just when.

larssnowpharter
4th Aug 2016, 11:24
"Ladies and Gentlemen welcome aboard Birdseed Flight 123 from London Heathrow to Washington Dulles. Birdseed Airlines is pleased to announce that this is the first fully automated trans-Atlantic passenger flight in the history of aviation consequently there are no flight deck crew on this aircraft. There is no need to be alarmed. The process has been extensively trialed and we assure you that nothing can go wrong ... can go wrong ... can go wrong ... can go wrong"

Cazalet33
4th Aug 2016, 12:16
They are much more likely to do it the way BEA did it with Autoland.

Tell 'em after the landing that the pilots did not hand-fly the approach and landing.


ExXB, you forgot the cost of dog-biscuits in the intermediate phase.

Ancient Observer
4th Aug 2016, 12:19
I would love to know how they will Certify the first one.
Some Romanian working for EASA on a temp contract?
Come back, M*** B***. All is forgiven.

ExXB
4th Aug 2016, 12:58
ExXB, you forgot the cost of dog-biscuits in the intermediate phase.

Thank you, now fixed

Martin the Martian
4th Aug 2016, 13:25
It's a public perception thing. If you go out and ask the first ten people you see if they would fly on a pilotless airliner I'm pretty sure what the unanimous answer will be. And until you can change that perception it will never happen.

ExXB
4th Aug 2016, 14:18
MtM,
Or if you say "it'll be 10 bucks cheaper" then no problem.

And can you imagine what you could sell those forward facing window seats for?

MadsDad
4th Aug 2016, 14:49
How much extra will they be able to charge for the Front Seats?

Saintsman
4th Aug 2016, 16:37
I suppose the rear crew would have to find someone else to sleep with...

meadowrun
9th Aug 2016, 00:57
If this can happen?................


Thousands of air passengers around the world have been left stranded after a power cut forced the US airline Delta to suspend flights.
The incident caused delays across the US and in Japan, Italy and the UK.
Airport check-in systems, passenger advisory screens, the airline's website and smartphone apps were affected by the systems failure on Monday.
After six hours, Delta said flights had resumed on a limited basis but warned of continuing delays and cancellations.

Loose rivets
9th Aug 2016, 23:02
How much extra will they be able to charge for the Front Seats?

A fortune. A friend of mine has never forgotten her ride on the jump seat coming back from Spain. I know I miss the big windows up front.

And until you can change that perception it will never happen.

Well, a few of us have tried hard to do that. A hero one moment . . . then someone shows the photos of a few nightstops. Oh, my. As one skipper who's career was about to come to an end said, 'Cameras are dangerous things'. I don't think computers have learned to drink into the wee hours. Have they?


If this can happen?................


Quite. Bit of a downer (sorry!) when you're one of the electric future bods. You can just imagine all the staff walking around in little circles muttering to themselves. They're not programmed to have power-outages.




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