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Plans underway for Pilotless pax A/C

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Plans underway for Pilotless pax A/C

Old 20th Jul 2004, 09:41
  #21 (permalink)  
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404 Titan: I agree 100% but cargo is a possible in the near future. As already stated in this post, the technology exisits. However, we'll not see a pax aircraft in our lifetimes.
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Old 20th Jul 2004, 10:20
  #22 (permalink)  
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Go stand on a mainline station and count how many driverless trains come in! The technology has come far, hasn't it? Not even any driverless trains on the Channel Tunnel? Maybe a few light ones on single line short tracks. Would you want 400 tons of heavy aeroplane flying low over your abode? Would you conceivably get in one with your family and rely on automatics only? Are pilots such an expensive option compared to all the expense of designing and installing (and proving!) all these automatics. Don't worry about it!
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Old 20th Jul 2004, 10:33
  #23 (permalink)  
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The DLR is driverless and, whilst not comparable to mainline operations, it is a multi-track multi-unit operation.

Maybe there SHOULD be more driverless trains seeing as most fatal crashes in recent years have been influenced by human error. Sadly, of course, in this country it would somehow cost several million billion pounds!!!
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Old 20th Jul 2004, 11:02
  #24 (permalink)  
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This is a general note. Why is the human race hell bent on removing themselves from doing anything in the name of progress. What will be the point of existing. We will all end up flipping burgers, pouring coffee and working in call centres oh only if you live in India of course!
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Old 20th Jul 2004, 11:48
  #25 (permalink)  
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Desert Nomad

There have been a number of incidents where Cpt and FO have managed to get an aircraft out of a tight spot. Tried to recreate it in the sim and that has failed.
It is true. However it is not a big number and I know you want to recall UAL DC10 landing in the States with total hygraulic failure.

However (acting as a devil's advocate) I would like to remind you that as per Flight Safety Foundation report about 70% of all accidents are caused by flight crew errors. And that's excluding sabotage, military actions, turbulence injury and evacuation injury.
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Old 20th Jul 2004, 11:58
  #26 (permalink)  
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Oh goodie!! my countless hours behind Flight Simmulator will pay off at last!
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Old 20th Jul 2004, 11:58
  #27 (permalink)  
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An unmanned aircraft will still need human's operating it, they just wouldn't be in the cockpit and they may be able to control more than 1 plane at once. However, because a human is in overall command it will be subject to human errors, just like in every cockpit today. in fact the risk of an accident is much greater because the human controlling it could be hundreds of miles from the situation the aircraft is in and therefore unable to make informed decisions in the way crew do today.

So, a Unmanned PAX aircraft will not happen in the lifetime of anyone who currently posts on this forum but you've all got to see that commercially there's a market for non-pax UAV's for obs, and cargo. or am I wrong?
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Old 20th Jul 2004, 12:08
  #28 (permalink)  
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As all aircraft are designed by humans, you could say that humans are responsable for 100% of accidents!

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Old 20th Jul 2004, 14:23
  #29 (permalink)  
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Desert Nomad said:

The only time I would like to see an aircraft controlled from the ground would be in a terrorist or hijack situation where complete control is lost in the cockpit and the aircraft brought in remotely.


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Old 20th Jul 2004, 14:24
  #30 (permalink)  
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The technology does exist for modern aircraft to fly the route unaided. Pre 9/11 I jumpseated a 777 from Brisbane to Kuala Lumpur, and was assured by the Captain that without his input the aircraft was configured to track across South East Asia to Kuala Lumpur, descend, approach, land and taxi off the runway before further input was required.

One small step...

On another plane, sorry about that, railways are increasingly going over to driverless operation, apart from the aforementioned DLR, the Kuala Lumpur LRT system 2 is entirely automatic, based on the Vancouver Skytrain. And work is currently underway to impart the same technology to Londons Underground.

In your lifetime, most definitely yes.....

The transfer of control is similar for aircraft and trains, the one will require a co-ordinated regional ATC, the other will require Centralised Traffic Control (CTC). Both systems are already well established worldwide.

Takes off anorak and pops over to the pub...
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Old 20th Jul 2004, 14:39
  #31 (permalink)  
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The bottom line in the human trust / distrust ratio of computer technology is that if, today, passengers boarded a flight which was announced as fully automated, they would get off.

In 20 years (or maybe less) if the same passengers boarded a flight operated by humans, they would get off.
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Old 20th Jul 2004, 15:24
  #32 (permalink)  
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Why Not?

My opinion;
Firstly the stats saying 70% of accidents are Human related do not take into account the amount of times around the world that a 'human' pilot saves the day just by doing some simple task in the event of a system failing, an unusual met condition, Wake turbulence, spotting some Ice on / or damage to the control surfaces / airframe. a flock of birds, another aircraft... the list gos on for ever. In short they tell us the BAD things we may have had something to do with but not all the GOOD things we did do!)

Next we have unlawful acts / interf. Since the 40s it has been possible to jam electro-magnetic signals (British counter to German Radio Nav Aids over UK airspace) since the 50s / 60s aircraft like the Avro Vulcan have had EM jamming kit so powerful it could not be used without parlimentry concent! today the UK Govenment can block all nav aids including all L1 / L2p GPS in the UK! not to mention Mobile phones, Radar, TV,.... How easy would it be for 'him who will remain name less' to fund some bright spark at a university to build devices to be placed in several tower blocks in one or more major cities, that when used against UAVs over London for example, could cause a biblical disaster! (oh by the way don't think IRS would save you as that can be sabotarged with even more ease)

Datalink could be Hacked/overpowered and commanded to cause an accident also.

Then there is the fact that no one in there right mind would get on one, it just isn't worth it! in the end when we count the costs and amount of CAA / FAA costly rules that will spring up (They will want to see proof of effective safety well in excess of ten to the minus nine). I can't see it being worth the risks, But I know there are people with money, who would like to make even more, who would love to try to get these things in to the sky and it dose frighten me.

Last edited by Duck-U-Suckerz; 20th Jul 2004 at 22:32.
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Old 20th Jul 2004, 16:14
  #33 (permalink)  
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The reality is that it would be insanity to have commercial sized jets flown by an onboard computer or ground computer. All signals can be jammed. Even the military channels. Learning how to jam them is not that difficult. Anyone with half a brain can get plans to build a gps jammer and buy the components at Radio Shack for a trivial amount of money.

There are commercially available electronics for less than 500 USD that are as small as a cell phone that will block all communication to and from the airplane.

Lets not make it easy for them to someday take out 100s of planes in one day all over the world.
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Old 20th Jul 2004, 16:16
  #34 (permalink)  
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Isn't the reason why military UAVs can be used despite the fairly high failure rate precisely because they are expendable?
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Old 20th Jul 2004, 17:18
  #35 (permalink)  
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I'm willing to back London Underground to get rid of their winging, overpaid and greedy drivers.

Lets have driverless underground trains!
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Old 20th Jul 2004, 17:36
  #36 (permalink)  
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This post has made me laugh sooo hard!!

Trust me...there will never be in the next 100 years a pilotless aircraft flying passengers around the world. When you have the millions of Aircraft constantly moving around the world in unending changing environments and situations it will never happpen. Machines would have to have the capablility to make decisions, and make the absolute right decision in every instance, hundreds of times each and evey flight. There are millions of circumstances that many are vague and need the many years of human experience and insight coupled together with knowledge and training and proceedural discipline just like any other professional occupation, that keep the millions of passengers safe and flying every day.

Comparisons to driverless trains on rails? Hahaha....don't make me laugh so hard!!
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Old 20th Jul 2004, 17:48
  #37 (permalink)  
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Ed 555

Yes good point; Trains do run on rails ..Planes fly in chaos.
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Old 20th Jul 2004, 18:07
  #38 (permalink)  
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This thread is very interesting. Perhaps I can attempt to move it into the area of fact.
First Fact. I know it to be a fact because someone I know well is working on it for a large airline. Studies are underway to see how any repetition of 9/11 can be prevented by switching the aircraft on to automatic control if there is any threat to the flight deck crew. If switched on the automatic controls would then land the aircraft automatically at the nearest suitable equipped airport. It would be impossible for either of the pilots to intervene at any stage after that. The technology already exists in numerous aircraft to make this possible. The issue is not can it be made possible but does it add to security and reduce the risks of terrorist/hijacker intervention. I know that where it has been debated the overwhelming balance of the argument has been in favour of enhanced security to prevent any unauthorised access to the flight deck.
Second Fact. Pilotless flying requires a very large amount of radio communication with the aircraft. Yes it does. But this is no problem to achieve. Some years ago I was involved in a study with a major European airline into future information technology requirements. One issue was vastly increased communications with the aircraft at all times. Something way beyond the current capabilities was envisaged. We teamed up with a leading American defence contractor to assess the possibilities. The conclusion was that unlimited bandwidth was available then. JSTARS and the US Airborne command centres already have this capability and have had for a long time. So there is no constraint there.
Third Fact. Does the technology already exist and is it being used. One of the design criteria for JSTARS was to automate the fighter command systems. That is to ensure that an aircraft can be automatically be directed to a new target without any voice commands. I have no way of knowing if that requirement was not met but JSTARS was so successful in the Gulf War (1991) that is reasonable to assume that it was. So let us assume that if there is perceived to be a need to use such technology in civil aircraft the technology model already exists.
Fourth Fact. The use of an automated flight system that has no human intervention on the aircraft assumes that the message to which the aircraft will respond will always be authentic and that only that aircraft will receive that command. The technology for this on military data transfer already exists and is old hat. True there do still seem to be some problems about target identification but these seem to be human related and to incompatibility between different nationís systems.
Fifth Fact. I have known and worked with hundreds of pilots. Everyone of them believes that the wide availability of ILS and blind landing capability has improved flight safety. They put huge trust in a system which works.
Sixth Fact. The combination of ground mapping radar and satellite navigation can provide for extremely accurate flying even in the worst terrain. Low flying military aircraft have proved this even within mountainous areas.
Seventh Fact. The technology already exists to guide and direct ground based vehicle extremely accurately. Numerous safe driverless railway systems are the basis for this. Guided buses are now being introduced.

EightFact Eight UAVís already exist, admittedly for very limited missions so far.

Fact Nine. Jamiing can be rendred impossible by continuous frequency hopping.

The situation for aviation is that if pilotless aircraft are seen to be desirable for whatever reason then all that needs to happen is for these technologies to converge.

That is the simple bit. It could certainly happen if it was regarded as essential. But the problems are immense, nevertheless.

Problem One. The system would have to undergo widespread testing and proving before any sort of publics or professional confidence could be created.

Problem Two. The major improvements to current systems would have to come in Air Traffic Control and in ground movement control at airports. Changes in ATC are long, slow and cautious and rightly so. The ATC improvements in Europe which have improved punctuality and increased capacity in recent years were initially planned more than twenty years ago.

Problem Three . Is that any move to pilotless management of aircraft would take decades to introduce. Just take the assumption that the next new aircraft after the 7E7 were to be the first to have full pilotless capability. Assume that such an aircraft were introduced at the earliest in 2012. By then there are likely to be around 30,000 airliners in the world. To replace them would take three decades.

Just think about it. Yes the technology probably is there or could be there quite soon. But the reality is that there is no chance of any pilotless passenger aircraft for around a decade at least, more likely two decades. It will take a long time to become common.

I do not think there is any threat to the career of any current civilian pilot because of this. Sleep easy out there but for your grandchildren it might just be normal to fly in pilotless aircraft. After all if the technology exists it gets used.
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Old 20th Jul 2004, 18:17
  #39 (permalink)  
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...70% of accidents are Human related...
100 % of those flights wich does not end in an accident do so in spite of and/or thanks to the humans up front.
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Old 20th Jul 2004, 19:10
  #40 (permalink)  
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Fact Nine. Jamiing can be rendred impossible by continuous frequency hopping.

EEErr.... Sorry (as far as I'm aware and correct me if I'm wrong) that only works if you have some little devise with limited range.

Even in the 60s The RAE / RAF had developed Long range energy burst mercury coil jamming devises which just completely disrupts all electromagnetic signals within a given area. I mean micro to mega wave. All!
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