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Plans underway for Pilotless pax A/C

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Plans underway for Pilotless pax A/C

Old 22nd Jul 2004, 14:09
  #61 (permalink)  
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There are reasons there are two people flying the plane. It's not that one can't do the job, they are there to watch each other and in case one is incapacitated for some reason. You would make Airport 1977 the movie become a reality by having only one pilot.
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Old 22nd Jul 2004, 20:36
  #62 (permalink)  
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The Goaf,

If I may address your comments of "fact" a few pages back.

I would like to submit that my previous comment prior yours is also fact. Insight, experience, knowlege, and decision making skills are required to operate an AC to the level that no machine will have the capability to do (my guess) for hundreds of years.

Your facts are true. We are moving in an unending progress of new and better technologies that we develope to better our lives, to ensure our survival, and to understand the universe. No one is debating you facts.

HOWEVER, I can see you are not a Commercial Airline pilot as you do not understand the real reason why a pilot will always be controlling an aircaft. At least until your "facts" of technology produce an intelligent, thinking, computer equivalent to the decision making of a human.

Let me put this issue to you another way. We have amazing robotic technology now that is also jumping leaps and bounds every day. Even to the point where we can build unbeleivably complex machines, cars etc, one after another. But couple that with the amazing medical technologies we have today, I put to you, can we take a sick human being needing surgery, put him on a conveyor belt and have a surgery performed by robotics? Surely the technology exists to program billions of proceedures into a computer? The answer to this proposal is the same reason pilots will always be controlling an aircraft. Because, no two people, or situations are alike, you absolutely need the experience, knowlege, and insight of a sergeon to perform a sergery, as you also need a pilot to fly and manage an Aircraft. In addition, running an AC is also like running an Office. You have employees, all of which have their own issues, and sometimes problems. You have to manage them too. You ARE the office manager. Can a computer run an office, and deal with people?

Yes, the technology exist to put the AC on autopilot and even perform an Autoland. I know, because I do it all the time. But what happens if one of the gear doesn't come down? Or the hydraulic system fails? Or an Engine fails, or is on fire? Or, there is an obstruction on the runway the computer can't see? Or the autoland system fails, the autopilot, the navigation computer, the air data computer, the IRS computer, etc etc etc...Just look into the MEL of an Airbus and see how many things and situations can go wrong. And what about variables in airports, weather, traffic, passenger situations, etc, etc, etc,.....Getting my point?

You need a computer that can think on the level of an experience pilot to deal with the safty of an aircraft if you are to have a true pilotless aircraft, and that is a long way off. We are talking artificial intelligence. And that is sci-fi at this point. Anyone for Issac Asimov?

Without AI, one would have to basically put it on the runway yourself, then let it go, everything must stay out of its way, there must be no variables, and nothing must go wrong. Do the words "controlled experiment" mean anything to you? Because that is all a pilotless aircraft will be until AI exists, when and if that is possible.

One last point for you, it seems to me that with your "facts" of technology you aren't really making a point of a pilotless aircraft, but a remote controlled aircraft. The pilots will be on the ground, but they will still be there. And guess what, we already have those.

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Old 22nd Jul 2004, 20:46
  #63 (permalink)  
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As has been mentioned earlier when the aircraft or systems fail, it has been the blokes up front who have saved the day. Perfect example was the Sioux City disaster. Although the hull was lost, if it wasn't for the crew a lot more people would have died that day. I truly doubt we will ever see a UAV carrying pax around.
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Old 22nd Jul 2004, 23:36
  #64 (permalink)  
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It still amazes me to think that the 'Soviets', completed three orbits with their Buran shuttle, pilotless, and landed the craft on the rwy. centerline. That was way back in the eighties.

The USA is now in the process of mixing UAVs and air transports in the same controlled airspace.
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Old 23rd Jul 2004, 07:34
  #65 (permalink)  
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Yes, but it was passengerless, planned for months, ensured there was nothing that could possibly endanger the mission like bad weather, (etc and all that stuff I mentioned), and everyone and everything was arrange to be out of the way.

It was acceptable to fly it REMOTELY because there was no-one on board, so if there was a problem/malfunction they couldn't deal with, well they could just crash it with no loss of human life. Being the very high risk of the mission it made more sense to do it this way.

AND, I say again. Remote controlled airplanes are not new.
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Old 25th Jul 2004, 00:52
  #66 (permalink)  
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I will suggest a simple method for estimating when the roboticization of the skies is about to take place:

Count the number of dimensions.

Expect the process to follow accordingly.

The last 50 years have seen a fairly comprehensive automation of small-scale transport devices that (in freedom of movement) are essentially 1-dimensional , such as moving stairs and elevators.

Right now - and for the next 30 years - is the time that wide-ranging 1.3-dimensional devices, trains and similar rail-constrained machines, will become almost fully automated.

Next in line are the 2-dimensional vehicles such as personal automobiles, lorries, trams, etc. Much can be learned from this process that will pertain to automating air transport. (possibly including 'don't do it').

Then boats and ships. Sometimes high-value and complex to steer, but much slower than aircraft....and only moving in 2.3 dimensions.

Then, only then, the air transport system. At the far end (from here) of the learning curve.
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Old 25th Jul 2004, 09:11
  #67 (permalink)  
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I tend to agree with the doubters.

Have people fly aeroplanes??? Far too risky!!!

They might have heart attacks, forget things, misinterpret situations, make wrong decisions, decide to commit suicide, fail to communicate with each other, fail to understand or simply disregard procedures or regulations, be incapable of making best use of the resouces available, or simply fall out and refuse to cooperate with each other.

No, let's stick with automation. Its much more predictable.
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Old 25th Jul 2004, 09:35
  #68 (permalink)  

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No, let's stick with automation. Its much more predictable.
You are right there!

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Old 27th Jul 2004, 07:59
  #69 (permalink)  
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D 129 says the pax will want to see someone up front

747Focal says 2 pilots are there

How do they know?

The doors are locked, the pax don't get to see who's behind the door.

On my last trip just before push back a voice declaring himself "the Captain" announced our flight time would be 9 hours and 36 minutes and there would be a smooth flight all the way.

Some 9 hours and a bit later another voice declaring himself "the First Officer", stated we were starting our descent and it was raining at our destination.

I do wonder if the "Captain" is still in Jo'burg, and the "First Officer" never left Kuala Lumpur.
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Old 27th Jul 2004, 10:48
  #70 (permalink)  
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One good thing about having the operators on board at the pointy end.... it does inspire a sobering sense of cause and effect.
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Old 27th Jul 2004, 14:29
  #71 (permalink)  
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Sultan Ismail,

Since I am in First Class all the time, I count the pilots as they enter the Flight Deck and make sure neither of them sneak off.

Now if what you are saying is that if the PAX did not know there was nobody up there it would make no difference. If I got off an airplane and found out there had been no pilots up there quite a few of the airline employees would feel the brunt of my foot before airport security got hold of me.
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Old 27th Jul 2004, 15:20
  #72 (permalink)  
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747Focal - with your affinity to the aircraft of your username, are you sure that being in First Class on the 747, you are not just seeing two stooges - or recently remployed pilots - climb into the First Class wardrobe??!
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Old 27th Jul 2004, 15:54
  #73 (permalink)  
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I usually take a peak through the curtain.
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Old 27th Jul 2004, 23:55
  #74 (permalink)  
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Keith Williams, John Farley,

Ok... I will go along with you. Actually, I agree, it may happen sometime down the road...but that is a long time off. When we have the capability to have driverless cars on the ashphalt roads that can handle every possible situation that may happen...that is when we will have pilotless airplanes!!

You guys can agree all you want...automated commercial flights are not .. ARE NOT going to happen for a long long time. The technology for a remote control airplane exists....but then that just means it is piloted from the ground. That is not a "pilotless aircraft". And why would anyone get on an aircraft where the pilots own ass isn't on board too?

Sorry, but you guys are living in the future....think you've seen I, robot too many times!!!
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Old 1st Aug 2004, 20:34
  #75 (permalink)  

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More on the dangers of impending mindless doom as proposed by unmanned transport here:-

Rethinking the role of Human Pilots

...haven't heard anything from him since, perhaps he's been replaced by a new, improved model.

Last edited by Blackshift; 1st Aug 2004 at 20:45.
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Old 4th Aug 2004, 00:58
  #76 (permalink)  
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We have already seen technology remove the radio operator, navigator and flight engineer. The co-pilot will be next to go and that is inevitable. Present Airbus aircraft aren't far off not actually requiring any manual input. It would only take the application of a small amount of already existing technology to make them fully automatic. Universal ADSB will soon be with us, starting the journey towards the elimination of human beings from the ATC loop. But hold on a minute! Strictly speaking ocean going cargo ships could have dispensed with human crews at least twenty years ago, they could proceed on a voyage automatically and only have a pilot aboard for docking manouvres. As far as I'm aware no ships have yet put to sea without human beings aboard. I wonder why?

The problem is that aircraft operate in a dynamic environment - or to put it in layman's terms the weather is changeable - so we still need a human being to supervise the proceedings. It will be a long time before the human Captain disappears, even if the skipper of a future 1500 passenger super A380 spends most of his time entertaining the first class passengers to dinner at his table, while his First Officer restlessly paces the silent bridge keeping a lookout for icebergs...
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Old 4th Aug 2004, 14:56
  #77 (permalink)  
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It tickles me all this talk of "it will land at the nearest suitable airport" The point is how it will handle the combination of Wx, unserviceable equipment on the ground and on the AC, traffic overload, company interests, pax convenience... How much would it cost to fit all these airports to be able to accept an unmaned AC at short notice (or no notice). If the signal is jammed presumably all the AC in that airspace will suddenly be heading independently to their "nearest suitable airport" how and who would sort out the ensuing traffic caos.

Towards the beggining of this thread somebody was told that a 777 would land in Indonesia in six more hours without further imput. This assumed that the rwy in use stays the same, there are no delays and no conflicts with other traffic, there is no adverse wx on route, the descent winds are as planed, the landing is done flaps up and gear up... the list goes on.

I remember that a few months ago there was a competition in the US where unmaned vehicles (cars and one motorbike as I recall) had to negotiate a 20mile course through the desert. Not one finished the course. Remember, they did not have to contend with Wx, traffic....they operated in 2 dimensional environment. And they did not have to be fail operational.

The crash rate of existing unmaned vehicles is phenomenal. Since they are quite rear, military and small they normally crash out of sight. How many unmaned cargo ac would need to crash into populated areas to discredit the whole concept?

It will happen in the end since time is long and who knows, time travel might happen... but not for a long, long time.
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Old 4th Aug 2004, 15:03
  #78 (permalink)  
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found in "FlightInternational", funny, isn't it?


Job Title: Unmanned Air Vehicle Pilot
Region: UK
Company: QinetiQ
Salary: 31,000 + benefits
Position type: Permanent
Posted: Monday 26 July 2004
Job type(s): Flight crew
Description: QinetiQ is Europe's leading defence and security technology company. All that we do builds on our proud heritage of advancing the boundaries of innovation through the application of sound thinking and groundbreaking technology. Our ongoing relationship with the MoD touches many different areas. Not least among these is our work with Unmanned Air Vehicles
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Old 5th Aug 2004, 00:13
  #79 (permalink)  
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I remember that a few months ago there was a competition in the US where unmaned vehicles (cars and one motorbike as I recall) had to negotiate a 20mile course through the desert. Not one finished the course. Remember, they did not have to contend with Wx, traffic....they operated in 2 dimensional environment. And they did not have to be fail operational.
An event of this sort did occur recently, promoted by DARPA and populated by self-financed competitors from colleges and aspiring small companies - plus a few teams of pub-crawlers. The machines entered were cribbed together on volunteer labor with things one finds 'around the house', so the poor showing of most vehicles was predictable.

Without intending any slight, I think you really sell short the whole concept regieme of autonomous vehicles by relying on such highly visible amateur competitions as proof of current capability.

Please consider the following additional thoughts:

A. Neither military nor industry publish press releases about their "best" stuff unless some great incentive prompts them to do so. Personally I would assume that the state of the art is about 15-20 years ahead of what college engineering students are building as class projects.

B. Nothing about fully implemented autonomous vehicle technology is either simple or cheap. The costs for very limited, but complete & fieldable, systems range from hundreds-of-millions to billions of $$.
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Old 5th Aug 2004, 12:36
  #80 (permalink)  
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Just to bring you upto speed, Kuala Lumpur is in Malaysia.

I assumed the aircraft would have been able to work that one out.

And what about the runway in use, or the winds and the other aircraft, suitable advances in ATIS and TCAS and the other gizmo's that any PC games author can think up will ensure that the aircraft gets where its going, lands and taxies to the gate.

We're going that way, and we're going there fast.
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