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Single pilot airliner

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Single pilot airliner

Old 9th May 2007, 08:05
  #41 (permalink)  
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Single pilot in cruise huh? Well, having seen the way some guys fly with TWO of us in the flightdeck, I would not be comfortable having just one guy alone up there for any extended amount of time. The variables are just too large when you condsider global operations (crap ATC (or no ATC at all), crap Wx, questionable pilot standards, terrain issues, variations in ATC procedures, etc).
Not to mention the way we operate NG aircraft. The basics like Aviate, Navigate, Communicate become a little more complicated for just one chap when you throw FMS and ECAM/EICAS into the works. The ability to crosscheck would be lost. It MAY work somewhere like domestic N. American and mainland European flights, but not for global ops.
As for comparing airliners to Predator, apples and oranges folks, you don't have 400 pax and crew lost when one goes down.
My two cents worth.
Cheers all.
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Old 9th May 2007, 08:09
  #42 (permalink)  
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I think single pilot airliners is a good suggestion if technology can cover a bit more.

Many of my mistakes have been because I thought the other guy/girl had it covered.
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Old 9th May 2007, 08:48
  #43 (permalink)  
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Many of my mistakes have been because I thought the other guy/girl had it covered.
Didn't you ask? "Never assume, check" is one of the oldest rules in the game.
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Old 9th May 2007, 12:45
  #44 (permalink)  
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For the record, I support two active crew on the flight deck at all times.

That said, IMHO it's inevitable that pressures will increase to reduce crew. I have read all the arguments about marginal addition to ticket costs, etc, but if a carrier could tin 20-25% of its flight crew (cost), they'd leap at it.

So how's this scenario - (say) 9-12 hour sectors with two crew, one goes off to the bunk, the other is on their pat, with back-up provided by data-link to a central location where one pilot provides support for several flights.

That is, the 'working' on-board pilot is monitoring, radioing, etc. and can get the other pilot out of the rest (which would have to be directly connected to the flight deck) if need be.

The non-on-board pilot can assume control if need be (if the working on-board pilot suddenly becomes incapacitated) and rouse the resting on-board pilot back to the flight deck, and has real-time flight data at their station. They can also provide real-time assistance to the working on-board pilot to discuss operational matters as they arise.

Suddenly you have a two-pilot long-haul operation.

Not that I'm in favour of it, but as technology improves, they sure won't be adding more bods at the sharp end.
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Old 9th May 2007, 12:55
  #45 (permalink)  
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The late Pat Tobin told me when he worked for TWA, a mgmt captain was assigned to ferry a Connie from KC Muni to the shop at Fairfax across the Missouri River - a 3 min. flight. He got tired of waiting for the rest of the crew to show up, so he climbed back to the F/E seat, started the engines, climbed back up front, and took off & flew the trip solo.

Does this count?
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Old 9th May 2007, 13:09
  #46 (permalink)  
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Quotation from moosp
The technology is almost there, and the social acceptance will be as unremarkable as the introduction of attendant-less elevators and driverless trains.
As a controls engineer there is not a chance in hell I would fly in a pilotless plane. The big difference between aircraft and ground based transport is of course that trains/trucks/elevators etc can 'fail safe' - anything goes wrong with electronics, navigation, sensors etc, the brakes come on, the vehicle stops. Everyone swears and gets out.

Bit difficult to do this in flight. (well, not difficult, but very unpopular with pax)

Until somoone invents components that don't fail unpredictably, I'll happily pay a few extra quid for my ticket!
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Old 9th May 2007, 13:37
  #47 (permalink)  
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Maybe the GA program was running on vista???
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Old 9th May 2007, 13:40
  #48 (permalink)  
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I'm fairly sure the last time skytrain had computer problems it stopped. Airliners don't
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Old 9th May 2007, 14:07
  #49 (permalink)  
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I take it you are looking at this from a non-prof pilot angle. It is easy to swallow the publicity about the latest technical gear and what their capabilities allegedly are. It's how they handle it all when it goes wrong that counts far more. I have sat on the FD of a 747-400 watching multiple messages come up- each and every generator failed, all hydraulic system warnings from every system, multiple fuel pump failure warnings. So many we were trying to find page 1 to start noting them. Could have been alarming, but we were flying along happily at the time. What would single pilots, or worse, automatic non-pilot control systems have made of that? It's all very interesting talking about 'data links'- even these days I'm trying to communicate by shouting on HF across the Atlantic, and .......Africa? Great holes of communication. Sorry to be rude, but worldwide data links?....... my arse! I've flown across Africa for hours totally incommunicado.
It's at least a generation away- I'd say 30 years. And for cargo only- no passenger ops.
I rarely take issue with you Rainboe, but I have to say that your technical arguments revolve around a crew based environment. The whole point of automation is to remove the crew. Aircraft systems already deal with multiple redundancy situations that you as aircrew never see.

The argument cannot be based on technical grounds, it is a social and political argument. Whether I would want to fly on a fully automated aircraft is really the question, not.. is it possible ?
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Old 9th May 2007, 14:47
  #50 (permalink)  
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I don't see pilotless commercial aircraft coming into operation for many, many years. This is not to say that it can't happen but we are talking about human-level AI: this has been 5-10 years away for the last x decades, much like fusion power stations. Considering the amount of effort that would have to go into R&D, testing and certification(!), it's going to be cheaper to train pilots for the foreseeable future.

In percentage terms, a large amount of the traditional work of the airline pilot *has* been automated - but those were the bits that were susceptible to *easy* automation, e.g. cruise flight and ILS approaches. "Situations falling outside the scope of normal operations and procedures" are a much more complicated problem.

My personal view is that yes, it could happen but by then we won't worry as every other physical or intellectual task that we might want to perform will done just as capably by machine intelligences, leaving us sipping our Martinis by the edge of the pool waiting for the Singularity...
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Old 9th May 2007, 15:39
  #51 (permalink)  
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Buses require a driver.
A solo driver. There are no duplicated controls. Even if a relief driver is carried, he cannot take over controls in cruise.
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Old 9th May 2007, 18:37
  #52 (permalink)  
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As a small business owner I understand the value of a good accountant.

However, particularly in aviation, if they go bad and start scrimping and saving then

beancounters cost lives

"For the want of a nail, the shoe was lost; for the want of a shoe the horse was lost; and for the want of a horse the rider was lost, being overtaken and slain by the enemy, all for the want of care about a horseshoe nail." -- Benjamin Franklin (and the print him on banknotes now!)

As a passanger, I'd rather pay for the second seater up in the front office thanks. And don't get me started on unmaned passanger aircraft ... if they start with that I'm driving and to hell with the eco hippies!!

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Old 9th May 2007, 21:16
  #53 (permalink)  
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Wow! This started with an idea about a single pilot watching the office in the cruise to a single pilot, even pilotless, airliner. That's quite a leap from the opening topic.

Some years ago, in Italy, and I suspect it still exsits, FTL's were 16hours for 2crew & 24hrs for 3 crew. Why so long? This is UK heavy crew duty times for only 2 pilots. How can 2 pilots be expected to stay alert for so long? And this was planning; the question of discretionary delays was a very open one.

The answer! The Italian CAA considered the autopilot to be an extra crew member. Thus on a long-haul flight of 13 hours stick time at night, and after 6hours time zone, it was necessary to combat ZZZ. On a NAT Track this was not too bad as it is +/- 1.00 between checkpoints. However, if the other bod nods off it could get interesting. The C/A's were still dinging every 20 mins to keep you awake. Bl%#$y nuisance. SELCAL: sometimes did the same.

Where it got interesting was on multi short sector days as the FTL's did not reduce as sectors increased. Then the concept of the A/P taking the strain into non autoland airfields was non-sensical.

The point being that some CAA's might have sneekily being doing this for sometime without being open about it. It was all about human stamina, or lack of, and more faith in Honeywell & Sperry than el Commondante.
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Old 9th May 2007, 22:06
  #54 (permalink)  
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Well, to add some spice on the subject.... Some of my co-pilots are so much below average that I even don't dare to leave the cockpit for a pee.

Seems to me that I'm flying single pilot on and off for some years !!!!

Many happy landings.

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Old 10th May 2007, 03:15
  #55 (permalink)  
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@RAT 5

Very well said.

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