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Airbus + Cathay working on Single Pilot during Cruise with A350

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Airbus + Cathay working on Single Pilot during Cruise with A350

Old 23rd Dec 2021, 15:28
  #261 (permalink)  
 
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So you perceive 80's technology as "unsafe". Instead you prefer to operate the same 80's technology designed for two pilots at the controls by just one? I fail to see how this will make things safer?
Wouldn't we need to design a one person cruise cockpit and maybe at least some flight crew rest command module or similar for immediate response by pilot 2 if this is intended to work somehow? Finally a new cockpit design will be needed for whatever might be desired: One pilot, no pilot, operator on ground. Whatever gets tested must be tested outside commercial operations. I highly doubt that this will be cheaper than manned cockpits with today's technology. We don't even get 5G and radar altimeters right.
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Old 24th Dec 2021, 08:18
  #262 (permalink)  
 
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Automated systems have a long way to go

I'm not a pilot - and so can't comment on the issues you see on the flight deck... I am a PNT technologist (was an FAA flight dispatcher in Tristar era). Personally I still think automation has a lot of issues to overcome - My interest is in navigation systems for autonomous systems - and just that aspect is not straightforward to implement safely. The trouble that most developers forget about comes from a complex environment that tends to throw "surprises" or extremes in condition at the system. Much testing of autonomous vehicles for instance is carried out in the benign environment of California - many millions of miles of road-testing is carried out without a hitch.... but as soon as the European weather environment is introduced, as soon as heavy traffic is encountered (or areas of high multi-path in an urban envrionment that compromise GNSS and hence integrity..... well you get the picture. And whilst many technologists believe that its easier to fully automate flight because of what they perceive as the more controlled environment, this thinking often precludes weather situations en-route (always used to exercise me as a dispatcher, no two days in Europe were ever the same).
One of my observations from ground view is that many automated systems fail to behave properly when an unusual situation is encountered - mundane and "simple" systems such as automated taps, supermarket checkouts...
And from a complex system point of view, once bugs in software are documented, it is becoming increasingly difficult to locate and solve them. Perhaps I'm an old fashioned dispatcher, but I like flying with skilled and knowledgeable pilots who have experience of many of those "boundary" conditions that have the potential to confuse an automated system.

edit: MIssed out an important point I wanted to make (my own opinion based on above) - often there is an assumption that a fully automated set of systems can become fully autonomous. That isn't true -we have issues with even fully automating systems today - but even if you get there, how do you bring all of that automation together so that it can perform a complex mission. Some intelligence needs to be in control of all the systems, interpret all of the system outputs and then act on them - in aviation to modify the flight - so that it arrives at destination safely. That is one big jump from where we are today - And how do you programme that intelligent module to carry out a commercial flight from start to finish safely - what would be the mission description (think of the consequences of a poorly scoped wish on a simple genie)? In aviation today we have those "intelligent" modules- the pilots. When we have developed a robot that can fly an aircraft like a pilot and who understands all the mission complexities and how to react with all the flight stakeholders - that is the say we may be closer to fully autonomous aircraft - personally I think there is a long journey to go to get there..

For issues surrounding the development of AI - I would recommend listening to this year's BBC Reith lectures on AI given by Professor Stuart Russell, a British computer scientist at University of California, Berkeley - 4 excellent and interesting lectures on some of the most fundamental issues and challenges with AI - very relevant to this discussion I'd suggest...

Last edited by ex-Dispatcher; 24th Dec 2021 at 08:49.
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Old 25th Dec 2021, 14:40
  #263 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by FMS82 View Post
just from the top of my head;
  • AA587 in 2001
  • The recent Atlas 767 nose over
  • UPS1354
all very flyable aircraft flown into the ground in benign weather. We can debate training standards I guess, but even in decent outfits, low performers slip through the cracks... If we include a bit broader scope (not just us majors) the list becomes long (Asiana in SFO comes to mind most prominently, the fairly recent Emirates botched go-around, Turkish in AMS, those PIA cowboys landing on their engines and going round again...)

​​​​
Thanks for your examples. I had to think about it for a few days, and now I come to the conclusion that these accidents actually prove my point.

AA587 was 20 years ago! And it was a failure in proper training. No serious training organisation will nowadays advocate what these pilots did. On the contrary, worldwide, UPRT training has been introduced, to teach pilots how to deal with such situations. A similar accident has not happened again and it is hard to imagine it will happen again in any seriously trainig airline.

UPS1354 was a combination of huge fatigue and non precision approach. Such an approach could not be flown by a fully automated airliner with the necessary low failure rate. So to go fully automated you would need an approach with lateral plus vertical guidance, which then would also have been flown successfully by the crew of UPS1354. It is kinda an argument that bites it's own tail. Plus, fatigue awareness is on the rise worldwide, amongst pilots, amongst unions and also amongst employers.

And also the Atlas 767 nose over proves my point: the FO had a history of training problems, he probably would not have made it into a flight deck with proper selection and training standards.

And against that background, I can only see safety stay at an acceptable level by moving the pilots out of the loop, where they can not do the damage they have done in the past two decades.
There are nowadays extremely few accidents in properly regulated air traffic systems. We still can improve even amongst them with regard to selection and training. UPRT has been introduced to avoid loss of control accidents, which is good.

Additionally, you completely ignore the thousands of decision pilots take every day to prevent things from escalating.I feel your believe in the reliability and the decision making capability of a complex machine in a complex environment is naive.

On a side note, a single pilot cruise airliner, I would also not exclude anymore. It has the advantage that even on two man red eyes one can sleep, and on longer sectors you do not share rest amongst three guys but amongst two guys, prolonging rest time. So it is not all bad.

But a fully autonomous or single pilot airliner won't happen in the next 30 years.
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Old 26th Dec 2021, 04:58
  #264 (permalink)  
 
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automation is a human invention

Time and time again I read comments that automation will solve the human factor.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Automation is a set of computer programs written by computer geeks who have NO experience of flying nor the myriad of threats which happen to each flight each day. In addition any code will have embedded "bugs" which are errors that may not manifest until unexpected circumstances occur (e.g. MCAS). Automation can never be perfect, as new systems arrive into operation with their own new bugs with every new type and automation variant/update.

Further, taking pilots out of the cockpit and in effect having the PM sitting in a box somewhere else does not solve the problem.

Also, no one has addressed the issue of how to build command experience in a single pilot airliner.

I suggest that the future of safe single pilot or unpiloted pax carrying ops, whether it be airliner or drone, is a long way off.

Some states may try the experiment, but fatalities and coroner's and news headlines will convince the flying public that pilots are needed.

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Old 5th Jan 2022, 15:42
  #265 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by 1201alarm View Post
Thanks for your examples. I had to think about it for a few days, and now I come to the conclusion that these accidents actually prove my point.

AA587 was 20 years ago! And it was a failure in proper training. No serious training organisation will nowadays advocate what these pilots did. On the contrary, worldwide, UPRT training has been introduced, to teach pilots how to deal with such situations. A similar accident has not happened again and it is hard to imagine it will happen again in any seriously trainig airline.

UPS1354 was a combination of huge fatigue and non precision approach. Such an approach could not be flown by a fully automated airliner with the necessary low failure rate. So to go fully automated you would need an approach with lateral plus vertical guidance, which then would also have been flown successfully by the crew of UPS1354. It is kinda an argument that bites it's own tail. Plus, fatigue awareness is on the rise worldwide, amongst pilots, amongst unions and also amongst employers.

And also the Atlas 767 nose over proves my point: the FO had a history of training problems, he probably would not have made it into a flight deck with proper selection and training standards.



There are nowadays extremely few accidents in properly regulated air traffic systems. We still can improve even amongst them with regard to selection and training. UPRT has been introduced to avoid loss of control accidents, which is good.

Additionally, you completely ignore the thousands of decision pilots take every day to prevent things from escalating.I feel your believe in the reliability and the decision making capability of a complex machine in a complex environment is naive.

On a side note, a single pilot cruise airliner, I would also not exclude anymore. It has the advantage that even on two man red eyes one can sleep, and on longer sectors you do not share rest amongst three guys but amongst two guys, prolonging rest time. So it is not all bad.

But a fully autonomous or single pilot airliner won't happen in the next 30 years.
Thanks for the response, you raise truly valid points. I think we're not far apart in the sense that we agree probably single pilot cruise is imminent. But I'm probably a bit more optimistic on full single pilot ops than you are. (Not sure if autonomous will happen, I do agree there's too many roadblocks still)

​​​​​Here's an example of a current single pilot operation on the fantastic Pilatus PC24. I don't see why this should not be perfectly possible with larger aircraft of similar vintage.


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