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Old 7th Aug 2022, 00:44
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Pilotless airliners are still a few decades away, but I do expect to see Co-pilot/FOs starting to be replaced by AI by the end of this decade. It might be just FOs with far reduced duties or expanded single pilot smaller aircraft as the technology moves in, but it's certainly already being developed into the latest new cockpit designs. Question then begs as to where the single pilot gets their experience and mentoring from.
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Old 7th Aug 2022, 02:08
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You blokes are dreaming. Good luck getting the travelling public onboard with that idea.
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Old 7th Aug 2022, 03:01
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There is a metaphoric technological meteor hurtling towards the airline pilot community, which will effectively wipe it out. Just like the dinosaurs.
The pursuit of the god almighty dollar will eventually sway public opinion towards accepting a pilotless aircraft; albeit, maybe, with a ground based pilot monitoring on-board systems just like happens now with military drones.
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Old 7th Aug 2022, 03:42
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Checkout the USAF UAV fleet.
You mean the ones operated by a crew of two on the ground? Pilot and weapons specialist.

This old chestnut. When trains are driverless EVERYWHERE and container ships operate autonomously and driverless cars are able to operate safely, THEN you may see pilotless aircraft.
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Old 7th Aug 2022, 04:06
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You blokes are dreaming. Good luck getting the travelling public onboard with that idea.
I think you are getting out of touch with the travelling public, they don't see any need for two pilots if the leading cause of aircraft accidents are 'pilot error'. If automation and pilots don't coexist I don't think it's the automation that will get the flick seeing as it's already well proven to reduce the accident rate be relieving pilot stress and distractions. Good ole Bezos and his Blue Origin also ran vs Virgin Galactic particularly on the point of being pilotless, why waste payload on stuff you just don't need, and frankly costs more to be there.... There is no doubt aircraft pilot days are numbered, its just a matter of how long. Cars are already self driving and will be more so in the near future, road vehicles being far harder to remove the driver than aircraft as there is a more chaotic setting. The general public won't bat an eyelid if its cheaper and more reliable, especially if a 'shortage' of human crew is what causes all their inconvenience when they want to travel at peak times.

PS most of the accidents with self driving cars are not the car driving itself, usually when the owner is self driving and blames the car for the incident, as its the only option other than look stupider.

Big driver of automated vehicles is mine sites, as drivers cost them huge amounts, so lots of RnD constantly being poured into that area.

Last edited by 43Inches; 7th Aug 2022 at 04:16.
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Old 7th Aug 2022, 04:23
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Originally Posted by Icarus2001 View Post
You mean the ones operated by a crew of two on the ground? Pilot and weapons specialist.

This old chestnut. When trains are driverless EVERYWHERE and container ships operate autonomously and driverless cars are able to operate safely, THEN you may see pilotless aircraft.
Freight trains have been able to reduce driver numbers over the years, more for multiple head consists. That was a big reason Pilbara drivers got a big payrise, but also in trade off for dropping from 3 or so drivers per consist to a single driver. Large ship crews have diminished significantly in the last 30 years due automation. New freighters need less than 20 crew to operate, and that includes cooks and stewards.

And that gets back to the point that actual fully automated airliners are a while away, but the days of the Co-Pilot are numbered, with HAL most likely appearing as your FO in a new large jet cockpit near you in the next 10 years.
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Old 7th Aug 2022, 04:34
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There is a massive psychological difference between operating a USAF UAV designed for 'Destruction of Things' versus having joe-public onboard a UAV Airliner operated by a Stanford MPL with zero Skin-In-The-Game, operating from a sweltering shipping container in a country with the worst labour laws. Oh wait, nobody anticipates that this will be the then next cost destruction frontier for airline CEO's.

The Boeing 777X (an Old Bird with New bolt-ons), was launched in November 2013 and will only be delivered in 2025 - Clean sheet designs are not in fashion for CEO's seeking short term KPI bonuses.
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Old 7th Aug 2022, 04:49
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Originally Posted by 43Inches View Post
And that gets back to the point that actual fully automated airliners are a while away, but the days of the Co-Pilot are numbered, with HAL most likely appearing as your FO in a new large jet cockpit near you in the next 10 years.
The unintended consequence of this would be the final decimation of the profession, even for airline management, as few (if any) would embark on a 20 000 hour career built on solitude in an aluminium tube for extended hours on end...Neurotic Pilots will become an everyday occurrence.
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Old 7th Aug 2022, 05:05
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We have already lost one crew member to automation. We will loose another in the cruise segment sometime over the next decade. Takeoff and landing will have two until Iím dead and dust. Airliners have a 20 -30 year cycle. Thatís a lot of coin to phase out the next type ahead of this timeline.

Beginning to operate a long haul flight with only 2 pilotsÖ watch this space. FANS with only one pilot in the cruise rotating every 3 or 4 hoursÖ. 10 years. Max
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Old 7th Aug 2022, 06:16
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Single or no pilot airliners don't actually solve any problems though they only create new ones. You are taking one of the safest modes of transport ever known and making it less safe. Unless you can deliver the same or better hull loss with autonomous systems you aren't achieving anything and run the risk of destroying an entire industry.
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Old 7th Aug 2022, 07:14
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Originally Posted by LexAir View Post
There is a metaphoric technological meteor hurtling towards the airline pilot community, which will effectively wipe it out. Just like the dinosaurs.
The pursuit of the god almighty dollar will eventually sway public opinion towards accepting a pilotless aircraft; albeit, maybe, with a ground based pilot monitoring on-board systems just like happens now with military drones.
Exactly - just like the dinosaurs, we will become extinct. In the same way that good voice communications killed off the morse-key wielding radio operator, and inertial navigation systems killed off the sextant wielding navigator, and autothrottle etc the flight engineer, today's UAV technology will soon be safe enough to remove the pilot from the cockpit. Those who embrace this technology could be re-cycled to ground-based control jobs, because it will still require careful monitoring for weather events, malfunctions etc. Hopefully such jobs will reward experience with decent salaries. But the money won't be anything like it was in the golden years gone by, because there will be spotty-faced geeks aspiring to play these ultimate video games.
Managements - as we know - always play pilots off against cheaper options. Instead of denying it will ever happen, the smart thing for today's pilots to do will be to lobby for very strict experience criteria so that today's 20 year old pilots end up as 45 year olds controlling UAVs.
As for public acceptance, if I am still alive to see it (and having met a few sub-standard pilots in my time), I would love to be the poster boy passenger on the first pilot-less flight, but fear I am not photogenic enough.
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Old 7th Aug 2022, 09:00
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Originally Posted by Mach E Avelli View Post
Exactly - just like the dinosaurs, we will become extinct. In the same way that good voice communications killed off the morse-key wielding radio operator, and inertial navigation systems killed off the sextant wielding navigator, and autothrottle etc the flight engineer, today's UAV technology will soon be safe enough to remove the pilot from the cockpit. Those who embrace this technology could be re-cycled to ground-based control jobs, because it will still require careful monitoring for weather events, malfunctions etc. Hopefully such jobs will reward experience with decent salaries. But the money won't be anything like it was in the golden years gone by, because there will be spotty-faced geeks aspiring to play these ultimate video games.
Managements - as we know - always play pilots off against cheaper options. Instead of denying it will ever happen, the smart thing for today's pilots to do will be to lobby for very strict experience criteria so that today's 20 year old pilots end up as 45 year olds controlling UAVs.
As for public acceptance, if I am still alive to see it (and having met a few sub-standard pilots in my time), I would love to be the poster boy passenger on the first pilot-less flight, but fear I am not photogenic enough.
Fortunately for airline pilots the reliable comms required for UAVs with passengers isnít anywhere near good enough - not even close. Itís a large problem to solve, and wonít be solved anytime soon.
The failure rate is way too high.

You can all relax.
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Old 7th Aug 2022, 09:31
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So what is the benefit of pilotless airliners exaclty? In the big scheme of the operation the pilots wages are insignificant anyway.

Next is the question of who is going to put thier money on the line to refine and develop the technology, and thats all before some regulator somewhere has to stick thier neck out to even certify it (We all now how difficult it is to even just get a medical renewed in a timely manner)

Once all thats done you have to convince the public there is something in it for them and get them on board... the same public who form thier unwavering views from social media and WhatsApp groups.

Remind me again what the benefits of a pilotless airliner were that make over coming all of those obstacles worth the risk and expense?

I dont doubt it's technologically possible, I just dont think its feasable in the lifetime of anyone here.
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Old 7th Aug 2022, 10:14
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Originally Posted by Lapon View Post
So what is the benefit of pilotless airliners exaclty? .

Executive bonus's bonus's and bonus's!!!!
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Old 7th Aug 2022, 10:29
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Sure, there are technical obstacles to overcome and refine. But 20 to 25 years is a long time in the evolution of aviation technology.
Commercial impetus and passenger acceptance of pilot-less flight only needs some nutcase pilot to pull another mass murder suicide, or do a “shut up Gringo” on a grand enough scale.

And yes before the anal retentives jump on me, I know he did not exactly say “shut up Gringo” but his reaction and comment was just as dismissive.

Last edited by Mach E Avelli; 7th Aug 2022 at 10:49.
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Old 7th Aug 2022, 10:33
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I just don't think it's feasible in the lifetime of anyone here.
Have a little think about the infrastructure required to support a pilotless aircraft at airports alone then have a think about the country you live in. Australia. A state government announces a long awaited rail line to Tulla airport, then tells you it will be ready in 10 years. Yep, 10 years to build a 20k piece of track. Mind you 10 years is nothing when you consider the airport has been there for 45 years or so before a rail link was announced. Badgerys Creek took 34 years to commence construction. It would be piss easy to pilotless an aircraft from the US to Australia, it's been done before but have another think about the infrastructure required and think about the incredibly average infrastructure that Australia is famous for, Australia 'the lucky country' not.
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Old 7th Aug 2022, 10:46
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Originally Posted by tossbag View Post
Have a little think about the infrastructure required to support a pilotless aircraft at airports alone then have a think about the country you live in. Australia. A state government announces a long awaited rail line to Tulla airport, then tells you it will be ready in 10 years. Yep, 10 years to build a 20k piece of track. Mind you 10 years is nothing when you consider the airport has been there for 45 years or so before a rail link was announced. Badgerys Creek took 34 years to commence construction. It would be piss easy to pilotless an aircraft from the US to Australia, it's been done before but have another think about the infrastructure required and think about the incredibly average infrastructure that Australia is famous for, Australia 'the lucky country' not.
Tossbag, valid points but the Chinese can build a hospital in a week and a high speed railway in a year. 25 years from now they will be running Australia anyway.
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Old 7th Aug 2022, 10:52
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Mach, pilotless aircraft would happen tomorrow if the Chinese were involved, mind you, that would depend on how soon they could steal the technology and would include quite a few accidents along the way. On your second point, I don't think it will be 25 years.
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Old 7th Aug 2022, 11:24
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Australia is booming. Jobs are being created for pilots that were not there before. We have the USA taking Australian pilots in unprecedented fashion. All this as hundreds, maybe beyond a thousand experienced Australian pilots are home from abroad. We still have retirements and pilots fed up in bigger numbers than before. The employees of all those expat pilots have not recovered yet. Asian demand will eventually be extraordinary and not far behind the US.

Yet these pages are full of nauseating resignation and working class mindset. Start pushing back. Iíve no doubt retention will see you having an ear that wasnít there before.
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Old 7th Aug 2022, 12:22
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Sure, there are technical obstacles to overcome and refine. But 20 to 25 years is a long time in the evolution of aviation technology.
No it isn't........There has been virtually no change in the last 25 years so why is the entire paradigm is going to change for pilot-less aircraft?

Boeing & Airbus will still be making aircraft designed in the 1970s & 80's in the 2030's!!


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