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Jeremy Vine Show - Pilotless Airliners

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Jeremy Vine Show - Pilotless Airliners

Old 21st Aug 2016, 11:49
  #61 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by kcockayne View Post
I take your point, & there is much truth in what you say. It was a positive step to move on from the "Satanic Mills" etc. , but , we can go too far. Conditions today are very far from "the mills". The total population is far better off than in those times. Pilots on the flight deck are not the equivalent of children going up chimneys. We can use technology for the real benefits that it brings; but taking away the availability of the many enjoyable professions that are available is not, in my view, a beneficial development. And also begs the question, "why ?" The point still remains; how are we enriched by "machines taking over" ; & , how are we going to provide for ourselves when there are no jobs & no income available because of this ?
I's an interesting point, but the simple fact is that the change is the reason why we are now better off despite the people at the time not enjoying the change much.

Perhaps in the future they will look back and consider this time equally satanic...
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Old 21st Aug 2016, 12:23
  #62 (permalink)  
 
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For even a single pilot airline system to work will require a full pilotless backup system in case of the relatively common incidence of incapacitation. It will require the technology to ensure uninterrupted communications, near faultless infrastructure and basically error proof automated aircraft. It will cost trillions and trillions of dollars. There isn't a single government in the world that's going to outlay that cost. They can barely afford basic infrastructure at the moment.

And for what benefit? Out of an average 40 million scheduled flights a year last year and currently into this one we've got only one fatal jet crash that was due pilot error (flydubai) and less than a half dozen turboprop fatalities in some very remote regions of the world where automation probably wouldn't have helped. So with no benefit to safety there isn't any private company that would be willing to outlay the trillions required as well.

The only reason why some "experts" perpetuate this myth is to get their names in the media, or to get funding for their drone research programs. Don't feed the trolls
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Old 21st Aug 2016, 12:27
  #63 (permalink)  
 
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The money is being spent right now, as usual, by the military.

There are autonomous aircraft currently operational delivering cargo.
Autonomous.
Not remotely controlled.

They will do the heavy lifting on this one, and as time progresses and the safety benefits become apparent the civil world will follow.

The reason they will want to follow is not the safety aspect, that will merely justify it.

The benefit from their perspective is the extra passenger space, reduced weight and the drop in wages.

How many pilots per aircraft does your airline have?

Do away with all those wages. All those pensions. All those uniforms. All those medicals. All those hotel rooms. All those crew meals. All that training.

That's worth a few billions.
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Old 21st Aug 2016, 13:14
  #64 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by Tourist View Post
The money is being spent right now, as usual, by the military.

They will do the heavy lifting on this one, and as time progresses and the safety benefits become apparent the civil world will follow.

The reason they will want to follow is not the safety aspect, that will merely justify it.

The benefit from their perspective is the extra passenger space, reduced weight and the drop in wages.

How many pilots per aircraft does your airline have?

Do away with all those wages. All those pensions. All those uniforms. All those medicals. All those hotel rooms. All those crew meals. All that training.

That's worth a few billions.
Think of all those increased insurance premiums for pilotless aircraft, think of the infrastructure, communication costs and hardware equipment that will be required.
Think of all the salaries for the researchers, developers, engineers, maintainers, controllers etc. think of what happens the first time a control signal is hacked or lost. Worth more than a few billion I think

And I doubt whether the military could transform the entire global airline system. Militaries are notorious for cost overruns, delays, inefficiencies, and the governments of the world are tightening their belts.
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Old 21st Aug 2016, 13:24
  #65 (permalink)  
 
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Kcockayne

Truth is what you believe and normality is what you see every day.

Or to be more precise.

Your truth is what(ever) you believe and your normality is what(ever) you see every day.

The only reason you believe that people will always need to work to live, is because that is the way things have always been. But that does not mean that it must always be so.

The only reason people belive that aircraft will always need pilots, is because that is the way things have always been. But again that does not mean that it must be so in the future.

I am not suggesting that a future with no need to work, and no need for pilots is a good future. I am simply stating that it is entirely possible (and probably inevitable).


(And yes I am doing a bit of a Jeremy Vine job here.)
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Old 21st Aug 2016, 13:49
  #66 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by Tourist View Post
Flyingstone

You are making the assumption that an autonomous airliner would use 1950s tech autoland.

Why on earth would a future aircraft even consider such archaic tech as ILS/MLS/VOR/NDB? We only use it today because it is certified despite the fact that VOR and NDB approaches have awful safety statistics.

There are 1000's of better options if you are already making the jump to entirely new certifications.
Cat 3-capable GBAS is the way to go - I agree, but it's still not certified today and likely will not be quite some time.

What you have to remember that at least for small airports, you are likely to see a transition to RNAV (GNSS)-only operations first, which require absolutely no infrastructure on the ground, so no servicing of the navaids, while providing relatively good approach capability (system minima for RNAV is 250ft I think). While this provides a significant reduction in costs (all new aircraft can do a basic RNAV approach), the next step would provide significant cost increase, as it's very unlikely to see SBAS-only autoland, so again you need some increase in equipment on the ground. And while this might make sense in LHR, FRA, JFK or somewhere in major hubs (i.e. replace multiple ILS systems with a single GBAS station), it makes much less financial sense on some remote airport with seasonal traffic where the weather is CAVOK most of the time anyway.

It all comes down to the basic bean counting technique - cost vs. benefit. Technology might be here or close, but at what cost and how much benefit does it actually bring you? Save (if at all) couple of dollars to limit your operating capability significantly?
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Old 21st Aug 2016, 13:51
  #67 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by dr dre View Post
Think of all those increased insurance premiums for pilotless aircraft,
I think it will be the exact opposite. I think that insurance companies will demand unmanned.

Originally Posted by dr dre View Post
Think of all the salaries for the researchers, developers, engineers, maintainers, controllers
The researchers are researching anyway. That money is being spent as we argue.

Originally Posted by dr dre View Post
think of what happens the first time a control signal is hacked or lost. Worth more than a few billion I think
You have a basic misunderstanding of the word autonomous.

Have you noticed, incidentally, that pretty much all modern airliners are essentially software driven.
Can you name a single event where an airliner has been hacked?

Originally Posted by dr dre View Post
And I doubt whether the military could transform the entire global airline system. Militaries are notorious for cost overruns, delays, inefficiencies, and the governments of the world are tightening their belts.
Doubting that the military has the ability to transform the entire global airline system is to doubt history.

The entire civil aviation industry follows pretty much every single innovation that military aviation has pioneered.

Monoplanes
Monocoque
Wooden
Metal
Jets
Fly by wire
HUD

The list covers pretty much everything.


Yes militaries have cost overruns. That is unlikely to stop any time in the next 1000yrs.
Your point?

The last major manned fighter program in the west is just becoming operational.

There is not even a plan for anything other than unmanned/autonomous fighters of the future.

You should think about that.
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Old 21st Aug 2016, 14:01
  #68 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by FlyingStone View Post
Cat 3-capable GBAS is the way to go - I agree, but it's still not certified today and likely will not be quite some time.

What you have to remember that at least for small airports, you are likely to see a transition to RNAV (GNSS)-only operations first, which require absolutely no infrastructure on the ground, so no servicing of the navaids, while providing relatively good approach capability (system minima for RNAV is 250ft I think). While this provides a significant reduction in costs (all new aircraft can do a basic RNAV approach), the next step would provide significant cost increase, as it's very unlikely to see SBAS-only autoland, so again you need some increase in equipment on the ground. And while this might make sense in LHR, FRA, JFK or somewhere in major hubs (i.e. replace multiple ILS systems with a single GBAS station), it makes much less financial sense on some remote airport with seasonal traffic where the weather is CAVOK most of the time anyway.

It all comes down to the basic bean counting technique - cost vs. benefit. Technology might be here or close, but at what cost and how much benefit does it actually bring you? Save (if at all) couple of dollars to limit your operating capability significantly?
Personally I would skip the lot of that ground based stuff. Why bother? Why not just have a combined INS/GPS/LIDAR/RADAR/LADAR

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JmSK_cWZpOc

Black Hawk Empty: Unmanned Helicopter Passes Key Test - Defense One

Autonomous Ground Vehicles and Aircraft Demonstrate New Collaborative Capabilities for Keeping Warfighters Safe-CMU News - Carnegie Mellon University

The task of making a tactical helicopter autonomous is a significantly more difficult challenge than an airliner due to the unpredictability.
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Old 21st Aug 2016, 14:01
  #69 (permalink)  
 
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Railways are a far simpler environment for driverless technology but there is not a single high speed railway in the world that does not have a driver up front. As for driverless cars, I remain to be convinced that all the sensors required will receive the aircraft standards of maintenance that they will require or that they will operate when caked with the muck thrown up on typical northern European winter roads. A few months ago there was a piece on the BBC 6 o'clock news from their transport correspondent reporting on Volvo driverless development. He said they were running on a test track as they could not go on the road as it had been snowing and the sensors needed to see the white lines!
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Old 21st Aug 2016, 14:08
  #70 (permalink)  
 
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I notice that you say "high speed" railway.

What is the difference between high speed and low speed when it comes to railways?

There are a huge number of slower railways that are automatic, and an even greater number that would be if unions were weaker including sections of the London underground.

Name a single function on a railway that cannot be given to a computer.

A huge number of the richest and cleverest people in the world think you are wrong about autonomous cars and are betting their house on it.

One of them has done what NASA never did and lands the first stage of his rockets on a barge.

Watch All 5 SpaceX Rocket Landings in This Epic Video

You care to bet against him making a car?!
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Old 21st Aug 2016, 14:51
  #71 (permalink)  

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dr dre

If you are serious about this topic please read this. All of it.

In the mid 60s I was a safety pilot for the Blind Landing Experimental Unit at RAE Bedford on their Comet 3B doing cross wind autoland trials with a component of over 30kt. To watch that system flare, smoothly remove the drift angle and squeak the wheels onto the numbers over and over again, convinced me that automatics could achieve standards of ‘flying’ that I could not match.

I have put quotes round flying because I believe the word means different things to different people. To avoid ambiguity I suggest we separate out the tasks of flying into ‘steering' the aircraft and ‘operating' the aircraft.

By steering, I mean controlling any flight parameter. By operating, I mean every other aspect of a flight from pre-flight preparation to selecting the appropriate flight parameters and filling in the Tech Log afterwards. I believe automatic systems are better at steering tasks while humans are better at operating tasks.

In reply to “What are you going to do when the autopilot fails?” my answer is that future automatic steering systems will not fail in a critical way. Unlike today’s autopilots which disconnect themselves in the event of a problem, future automatics will be designed to fail safe and carry on performing their functions. Just like today’s wing structures. Autoland, thanks to special certification standards, has not caused a landing accident since it was first used with passengers in the 70s. Sadly there have been quite a few steering errors by aircrew over the same period.

I am a future Captain climbing out of La Guardia when both engines fail. As the operator I decide the crisis needs a landing on the Hudson. I lift the guard protecting the Glide Landing button and press it telling the steering systems to set up the best glide. With my knowledge of the aircraft’s gliding performance I estimate the touchdown zone on the local area map that appears, draw the final approach track I want with my stylus, press the Glide Landing button again and thank my lucky stars that I did not have to use skill so save my aeroplane. Just knowledge.

As a future passenger I will always want my flight operated by a senior Captain and First Officer who have the knowledge to get us to our destination safely but without the need for them to use skill.
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Old 21st Aug 2016, 14:55
  #72 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by John Farley View Post
As a future passenger I will always want my flight operated by a senior Captain and First Officer who have the knowledge to get us to our destination safely but without the need for them to use skill.
John.

Will you insist on them being on board, and if so, why?
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Old 21st Aug 2016, 15:32
  #73 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by Tourist View Post
I notice that you say "high speed" railway.

What is the difference between high speed and low speed when it comes to railways?

There are a huge number of slower railways that are automatic, and an even greater number that would be if unions were weaker including sections of the London underground.

Name a single function on a railway that cannot be given to a computer.

A huge number of the richest and cleverest people in the world think you are wrong about autonomous cars and are betting their house on it.

One of them has done what NASA never did and lands the first stage of his rockets on a barge.

Watch All 5 SpaceX Rocket Landings in This Epic Video

You care to bet against him making a car?!
Yes, there are metro systems that run without drivers. The fact remains that railway operators across the world have decided that high speed mainline railways operate better with drivers. I am not in that business so don't ask me why.
As for betting your house on driverless cars, what good are they in northern climes if they can't go on a snow covered road?
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Old 21st Aug 2016, 15:35
  #74 (permalink)  
 
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An interesting piece in this month's Mercedes Enthusiast concerning the latest E-Class's near autonomous systems:

I'll come right out with it - I don't like it. Impressive as it may be, the technology still feels like a halfway house, and ultimately, in my view, creates more problems than it actually solves. I'm not convinced it's in any way relaxing, as I spent my entire drive scanning the road ahead looking to see that the car was spotting everything I was. There was a moment when it inexplicably decided to drop down to 50mph in the middle lane, and accelerated up to speed alarmingly when exiting on a slip road.

The steering feels weird too, the wheel writhing about in your hands, and not always picking the best line between the lanes. A work in progress then, and for now I'll stick to using my feet, hands, eyes and ears; the best controls and sensors in the E-Class, however clever the electronic ones appear to be. If you think that's a damning of the E-Class, it's not - it's true of all such semi autonomous systems (and Mercedes' is among the very best).
Volvo have had issues too - one of their threat detecting braking systems suddenly slammed on the brakes when the idiot robot was fooled by a bird taking off from the road ahead. A Tesla fatal accident occurred after, it was reported, the 'autopilot' couldn't tell the difference between a white truck and a bright sky....

As for unmanned passenger commercial air transport, I cannot imagine any passengers trusting it. However, a ground-triggered 'divert to nearest aerodrome' override in the event of crew incapacitation or terrorist action might be worth researching.
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Old 21st Aug 2016, 16:22
  #75 (permalink)  

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Tourist

Yes I would want them on board because that removes a comms link from the aircraft to the ground being essential. And for dealing with engine out issues where looking out of the window helps and so on. If they were on the ground wot about all the other jobs the 'pilots' do on every trip? We have to separate steering from operating. We (experienced aviators) need to operate and the autos need to steer at the operators command.

Last edited by John Farley; 21st Aug 2016 at 16:23. Reason: typo
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Old 21st Aug 2016, 16:29
  #76 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by Alan Baker View Post
As for betting your house on driverless cars, what good are they in northern climes if they can't go on a snow covered road?
You need to be slightly more discriminating when you read articles in the paper.
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Old 21st Aug 2016, 16:31
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Originally Posted by John Farley View Post
If they were on the ground wot about all the other jobs the 'pilots' do on every trip?
I flew for an airline for a couple of years. Can't readily think of anything I did on board that cabin crew could not have done..

.....to be honest that includes the flying too
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Old 21st Aug 2016, 16:37
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Originally Posted by John Farley View Post
And for dealing with engine out issues where looking out of the window helps and so on.
I'm afraid I can't agree with you on that one.

Neural nets that have been around for decades in aviation will do the flying bit better than any human, and the sheer number of telemetry inputs a computer can cope with make it far more likely that a computer will correctly diagnose correct engine/nature of problem etc.

Linked to this is the other advantage that an autonomous aircraft will have. The ability to bin V1 and have greater performance.
V1 is a construct entirely created to cope with poor human data recognition and decision-making. Computers don't need it.


The other advantage of computers is that you do know how they will cope. Humans are difficult to second guess. For every Sully there are ten who get over excited, particularly in todays benign environment where nothing ever happens.
Till it does.
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Old 21st Aug 2016, 16:59
  #79 (permalink)  
 
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That's odd because I have actually been an airline pilot for the last (nearly) 40 years and I don't think that cabin crew can do my job, and I mean no disrespect in that statement. Tourist: I don't know what 'flying' you did with that unnamed airline but it does not seem that you were intellectually engaged at any level. It is easy to 'downplay' the pilot role but sometimes this is overdone. Automation is a great tool but as the correspondent says with reference to cars; often the automation is more complex and increases workload, quite the reverse of the intention. Even my wife (former cabin crew!) was outraged at the drivel spouted on this particular edition of the 'Jeremy Vine show.' Populism and controversy are obviously the aim rather than technical accuracy. If a respected test pilot such as John F can't convince you that pilotless airliners are a long way from fruition I doubt whether I can. However, my day job is generally fending off curved balls and dealing with situations / threats that computers without the (yet) benefit of my experience cannot. As John says, the computers can fly much better than I can even after all these years. However, they do not have the capability of rational human - like thought.

Last edited by olster; 21st Aug 2016 at 17:10. Reason: spelling!
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Old 21st Aug 2016, 17:05
  #80 (permalink)  
 
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Tourist, I have no interest in the technical arguments, I can however comment on the insurance side of things with specific reference to risk.
The basic arithmetic of autonomous or pilotless heavier than air-vehicles relating to risk is far more emotive than a nameless faceless risk assessor crunching numbers.
We live in an increasingly connected and risk averse world with some notable exceptions to observed norms.
One of those is the driverless car, a concept in itself that has the potential to save far more lives than any pilotless machine will ever be able too, and yet even with the technology on the verge of being mainstream there has been a noticeable scaling back on the commercial (rather than research) element thanks in no small part to the first attributable deaths as a result of the systems currently available, it has also meant that the insurance industry has had to redefine the risk, making the cost of insurance excessive.
The redefining of this risk is in part an emotive response to what an insurer is prepared to accept, it begs the question..how many do we sacrifice in the normalisation of this new technology? If I was a shareholder of a large insurer and I saw an increase in their exposure due to risk in certain areas and technologies I may be inclined to invest elsewhere or even remove my exposure completely.
All of this ultimately means that far from the insurance companies driving change, it will be the legal industry allied with technological firms, but heres the rub, who or whom will be prepared to absorb the risk? Answer that...and then we can move onto the issue of public perception, particularly after an accident or incident involving automation.
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