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Britten-Norman Pilotless Planes

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Britten-Norman Pilotless Planes

Old 7th Oct 2020, 07:01
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Britten-Norman Pilotless Planes

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/b...2030-rw3mw3blb

Brace yourself for pilotless planes by 2030

Pilotless passenger aircraft will take to the skies within a decade under plans drawn up by a British manufacturer to cut the cost of flights.

Britten-Norman, based on the Isle of Wight, said yesterday that it planned to introduce single-pilot planes with an “autonomous co-pilot” by 2025. It said that the shift to fully pilotless planes could be achieved by the end of the decade, giving operators the choice to move between “uncrewed and piloted” flights as required.....

Yesterday, Britten-Norman, the sole independent commercial aircraft manufacturer in the UK, announced that it had signed a deal with Blue Bear, a British autonomous flight specialist, to develop the technology.

The two companies will work to automate Britten-Norman’s Islander, a twin-engine utility aircraft which is used for passenger flights, cargo and search-and-rescue operations. The project is due to be launched this month.

The plane, which can carry up to nine passengers, and has a short take-off and landing capability, operates on commercial routes between Scottish islands.

The team behind the project said: “Eventually the system will allow the Islander to take off, fly and land without any human input but the first milestone will be an automated co-pilot which can advise its human operator.”

Passenger jets have been flying on autopilot for around 50 years and large drones piloted from the ground are common in the military. However, pilotless passenger planes are not permitted. The technology would ultimately have to be approved by regulators.

Britten-Norman already produces aircraft that are certified for single pilot flights but some operators elect to, or must, operate with a second safety pilot. The company said that the ultimate goal was optional full automation which “should be realised within this decade”.

It said regional air transport was often “underdeveloped and often forced to rely on subsidy. This is because regional air transport can struggle to be economically sustainable due to high operating and maintenance costs,” it said. “Regional air transport will have to incorporate zero carbon and autonomous technology to make operations affordable and scalable.”......
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Old 7th Oct 2020, 07:29
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BAE were using Jetstreams pre-Gulf War 2, developing them as surveillance drones
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Old 7th Oct 2020, 07:37
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Originally Posted by ORAC View Post
single-pilot planes with an “autonomous co-pilot”
CRM could be very interesting.
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Old 7th Oct 2020, 07:42
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Yawn here we go again. Can you keep us appraised when the mighty Islander has done a fully autonomous assymetric takeoff and a two engine landing in 30 kts of crosswind. When it can do that 100 times out of 100 then I might be interested.
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Old 7th Oct 2020, 08:11
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If memory serves me correctly at least the computer only has to remember 65kts for everything...
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Old 7th Oct 2020, 08:15
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When it can do that 100 times out of 100
Right idea, but any regulator is going to start with something more like 100,000 times out of 100,000 and ramp it up from there.
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Old 7th Oct 2020, 08:32
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Originally Posted by Lookleft View Post
Yawn here we go again. Can you keep us appraised when the mighty Islander has done a fully autonomous assymetric takeoff and a two engine landing in 30 kts of crosswind. When it can do that 100 times out of 100 then I might be interested.
The control law has never been the issue for autonomous flight. There is no reason that an autopilot cannot consistently carry out an on-limits crosswind landing as well as a top class pilot on the top of their game.
The complexity comes from interfacing to, and acting upon every conceivable problem from every system involved in the flight. And that includes external "systems" such as ATC.

Crosswind landing with a fully functional aircraft? I am fine with that.
Carrying out all the correct procedures to deal with an engine fire - not so sure.
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Old 7th Oct 2020, 08:58
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Originally Posted by ORAC View Post
https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/b...2030-rw3mw3blb

Brace yourself for pilotless planes by 2030

It said regional air transport was often “underdeveloped and often forced to rely on subsidy. This is because regional air transport can struggle to be economically sustainable due to high operating and maintenance costs,”
Perhaps I'm being daft, but i don't understand how removing one (or both) pilots will have any real impact on the overall operating and maintenance costs. What's the pilots salary as a percentage of the overall cost of operating flights? Or do the extra tea and biscuits they need to carry push them over the edge on profitability? It's not like you can remove one of the engines because there isnt a pilot on board...!

The only exception to the above is it, rather than having a cockpit at the front you can actually have 3 or 4 rows of extra seats. Perhaps charging a premium for a nice view (i'd pay extra for that!!). But wouldnt there be a load of wasted space as at some point the fuselage needs to taper down to a point...?
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Old 7th Oct 2020, 09:04
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How things have changed! I managed to fly both Islanders and Trislanders without advice from an ‘autonomous co-pilot’🤔😳
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Old 7th Oct 2020, 09:13
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Large numbers of old Antonov An-2s are converted to drones and used in a certain recent conflict to one way carry explosives or to trigger enemy air defences to activate.This might be all that is feasible today.

https://www.overtdefense.com/2020/10...s-into-drones/
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Old 7th Oct 2020, 09:22
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Originally Posted by Dont Hang Up View Post
Crosswind landing with a fully functional aircraft? I am fine with that.
Carrying out all the correct procedures to deal with an engine fire - not so sure.
Not a pilot, but can I ask why you wouldn't trust automation to carry out correct procedures in any situation? I would have thought that the problems would come in the situations where there are no pre-defined correct procedures, perhaps where the only choice is the lesser of two evils, or in those situations where current automation gives up and hands the aeroplane back to the pilot. Check-lists and SOPs, I gather, are responsible for a lot of the improvement in safety; is there a way in which even SOPs have to be performed with human-only nuance? (A real question.)
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Old 7th Oct 2020, 09:32
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Thanks to Covid-19 there are already plenty of pilotless planes.

Yet another puff piece. Meanwhile in my neck of the woods, a locomotive driver discovered his computer controlled sand dispensing system failed completely during wet and greasy track conditions yet he struggled to pull the train to a stop after going through two uncleared level crossings and a curve well above the track's safety speed - with only minor injuries to a passenger.
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Old 7th Oct 2020, 09:57
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It has taken boeing like a year just to "fix" a program and a few other issues in an airplane which is handled by humans and you're saying that there will be pilotless ( which means more complications) in less than 10 years, yeep, sounds accurate.
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Old 7th Oct 2020, 10:28
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IMHO the general public won't accept the idea of a pilotless passenger flight until the successful adoption and proving of autonomous cars which will normailise the idea of automation in their minds.
The BN idea above is just a glorified autopilot on an a/c that is really single pilot anyway. No news here, move on...
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Old 7th Oct 2020, 11:28
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Originally Posted by Lookleft View Post
Yawn here we go again. Can you keep us appraised when the mighty Islander has done a fully autonomous assymetric takeoff and a two engine landing in 30 kts of crosswind. When it can do that 100 times out of 100 then I might be interested.
......all that, and, onto a beach in the Outer Hebrides.
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Old 7th Oct 2020, 11:52
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Wasn't it John Donne who wrote that No Man is an Island(er)?
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Old 7th Oct 2020, 13:50
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Originally Posted by Lookleft View Post
Yawn here we go again. Can you keep us appraised when the mighty Islander has done a fully autonomous assymetric takeoff and a two engine landing in 30 kts of crosswind. When it can do that 100 times out of 100 then I might be interested.
Not a problem. ”George” will be your PIC and you’ll hear ”Your controlls” every time George think its hard.
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Old 7th Oct 2020, 15:23
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LessThanSte;

About 20% of airlines costs on pilots.
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Old 7th Oct 2020, 17:36
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Such negativity.
The proposal will prevent about 50 cases of hearing loss, worldwide, every year!
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Old 7th Oct 2020, 18:14
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Seriously, Pilots cost 20% of airline costs?

Amortisation of aircraft and aviation equipment,
Cabin crew
Ground crew
Servicing and spares
Airport fees
Insurance
Head office personnel, management
Head office overhead
Fuel, oil etc
Agency commisions
Advertising

Edit: And taxes

I am sure this is not an exhaustive list, and I keep hearing on here how poorly LOCO pilots and entry level 1st officers are paid and how they now have to pay for their own upgrades.

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