Pilotless Cockpit?

ePilot22

BuyTheTicket~TakeTheRide
Joined
Dec 16, 2004
Posts
903
Total Time
nfinit
Does anyone ever think that the cockpit may become totally pilotless? If so how many years until that happens?

I read an article once that said while an aircraft may be able to fly (taxi, take-off, fly and land) itself, no human will ever board the back of an aircraft that doesn't have a human in the front. However, I was discussing this with a few other people and one said that it used to be unheard of to get on an elevator or a train without an operator. I did point out that the damage and loss caused by an accident is not as severe in an elevator or train as it would be in the case of a fully automated aircraft. And that elevators and trains work in one and two dimensions, where of course, aircraft work in three. There is also a difference in environment as well as certain factors that cannot be controlled.

Needless to say the one still argued that within the next 25 years we will no longer be needed upfront?

Any thoughts, opinions..........or facts on this idea.
 

dmrogers

Sorry about that landing
Joined
Oct 17, 2005
Posts
16
Total Time
450
In my own opinion, I do not see this as a concern in our near future. Burt Rutan offers his opinion about this in several interviews, and I tend to agree with him. Automation is becoming increasingly more common place, as technology solves various safety issues, however this technology will lead to new responsibilities for the pilot, not his extinction.
 

Bryan D

Registered User
Joined
May 30, 2004
Posts
229
Total Time
45 yrs
There was a segment on Modern Marvels a couple of nights ago about a cockless pilotpit airplanes. They flew an airplane by remote control all the way to Australia and safely landed. Was reported that they can stay aloft 36 hrs without refueling.
 

FN FAL

Freight Dawgs Rule
Joined
Dec 17, 2003
Posts
8,573
Total Time
7,000+
dmrogers said:
In my own opinion, I do not see this as a concern in our near future. Burt Rutan offers his opinion about this in several interviews, and I tend to agree with him. Automation is becoming increasingly more common place, as technology solves various safety issues, however this technology will lead to new responsibilities for the pilot, not his extinction.
We already see the effects of automation and technology reducing the number of flight crews needed to get the work done.

With jets came speed, more legs can be done in one day than what could be done by a DC-3 or Super Connie.

With automation, we saw flight engineers and navigators go bye-bye.

At the 135 level and Part 91 level, we have autopilots in lieu of a co-pilot, including single pilot jet operations.

I think in 20 years or so, they will have made one pilot airliners a reality.
 

rvsm410

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 27, 2003
Posts
690
Total Time
1
I dont see this happening in our lifetime, however I do see a real threat of shutting down aviation due to high fuel costs, accessable only to the utra rich....
 

ePilot22

BuyTheTicket~TakeTheRide
Joined
Dec 16, 2004
Posts
903
Total Time
nfinit
I don't think there will ever be an end to aviation as a form of mass transportation. In fact I think it will only become cheaper and more efficient. We, in the US, will never see aviation like it was in the early years. We are becoming less of pilots and more of "system managers". I did see that the use of high speed trains may cut down the use of aircraft, but the infrastructure for the trains isn't there and is costly and time comsuming to build. Airports on the other hand already exist and are quite numerous. Alternative fuels are something that will need to be reseached for airplanes, but as automobiles begin to use alternatives sources of energy and less petroleum products, more will be available for commercial aircraft use.

From what I heard today, there are 2 billion customers coming "on board". This of course is in the East, but the demand is there and will be there for aviation, but what about us?
 

ericnod

Member
Joined
Dec 6, 2003
Posts
5
Total Time
some
Found this job the other day... I think its funny that they require "Commercial pilot's license with instrument rating with a minimum of 300 hours Pilot In Command time", and would like a CFI.

http://www.jobsearch.org/seeker/jobsearch/quick?action=JobSearchViewJob&JobSearch_JobId=22956682&JobSearchType=JobSearch
--------------------------
GA - Aeronautical Systems, Inc.

Company Description:
General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. is among the leading technology employers in the San Diego area. We offer a challenging and rewarding work environment, competitive salaries, and a comprehensive benefits package which includes the following:

Job Description:
Instrument Rated RPA Pilot (UAV Pilot) TJ611-2651 Pilot a Unmanned Air Vehicle (UAV) from a ground control station. Responsible for the operation of the vehicle including mission planning. Will also have additional flight related collateral duties. This position requires travel for six to eight months of the year on a two to three month rotation both within and outside the Continental United States. Operations will be conducted at the El Mirage Flight Operations Facility or overseas.

Experience Required:
Commercial pilot's license with instrument rating with a minimum of 300 hours Pilot In Command time. Applicants selected will be subject to a Government security investigation and must meet eligibility requirements for access to classified information. Desirable qualifications: CFI preferred. Prior experience in UAV operation, mission planning and actual control of aircraft is desired.
 

UnAnswerd

Activity Terminated
Joined
Sep 13, 2004
Posts
607
Total Time
NA
Computer chips and solid-state devices can fry. The most reliable and safest condition of flight is when a competent pilot is at the controls. While it's true that automation can eliminate dangerous "human factors", the reverse does hold true at all. That is, human factors cannot eliminate dangerous automation failures....certainly not if humans aren't present to do so.

That is why automation is a good thing, but only when a human is in place to oversee its operation, and take immediate charge if and when such systems decide to automatically fail.

Consider this. Fully hydraulic steering is illegal to use on street-driven vehicles. With no mechanical linkage between the driver and the wheels, the system is simple and easy to implement. However, it is considered far too dangerous to ever use. Instead we have a power-steering system to aid the driver, and directional control can still be maintained even if such a system catastrophically fails. That's because the safety of having a mechanical linkage acts as a redundancy. In time the pilot will simply be a redundancy, there to take over when the primary system fails.
 

ePilot22

BuyTheTicket~TakeTheRide
Joined
Dec 16, 2004
Posts
903
Total Time
nfinit
Whata Job!

I think my 12 year old brother would/could fly the UAV better than me. What a waste of a certificate and time! Train a monkey to fly it!
 

Skyline

Well-known member
Joined
Sep 22, 2005
Posts
230
Total Time
6400
Automation

Automation,

Even now airliners are mostly flown via automation. On a 5.5 hour flight my hands were on the controls for about 6 minutes. A hand flown ILS is almost an emergency procedure. Soon the pilots will be there only as a back up system. I can't understand Burt Rutans view of the future. The way it stands now two pilots are redundant. One half awake pilot can handle most of it. I would like to see ATC instructions come into the plane via an email like system. The plane alerts the crew to an instruction from ATC and makes the changes through the flight computer and all the crew has to do is give a one word verification to the computer to accept the change. Even emergencies could be handled by the computer. It is almost that way now.

Skyline
 

indianboy7

I'm Scerrrrd!
Joined
Jul 11, 2004
Posts
536
Total Time
20
Skyline said:
Automation,

Even now airliners are mostly flown via automation. On a 5.5 hour flight my hands were on the controls for about 6 minutes. A hand flown ILS is almost an emergency procedure. Soon the pilots will be there only as a back up system. I can't understand Burt Rutans view of the future. The way it stands now two pilots are redundant. One half awake pilot can handle most of it. I would like to see ATC instructions come into the plane via an email like system. The plane alerts the crew to an instruction from ATC and makes the changes through the flight computer and all the crew has to do is give a one word verification to the computer to accept the change. Even emergencies could be handled by the computer. It is almost that way now.

Skyline
"You've Got Mail!!" DOH
 

LowlyPropCapt

PBR For Life, and Beyond!
Joined
Jul 14, 2005
Posts
1,256
Total Time
8000+
Skyline said:
Automation,

Even now airliners are mostly flown via automation. On a 5.5 hour flight my hands were on the controls for about 6 minutes. A hand flown ILS is almost an emergency procedure. Soon the pilots will be there only as a back up system. I can't understand Burt Rutans view of the future. The way it stands now two pilots are redundant. One half awake pilot can handle most of it. I would like to see ATC instructions come into the plane via an email like system. The plane alerts the crew to an instruction from ATC and makes the changes through the flight computer and all the crew has to do is give a one word verification to the computer to accept the change. Even emergencies could be handled by the computer. It is almost that way now.

Skyline
Don't take this the wrong way but...

If a hand flown ILS is "almost an emergency procedure" for you then you have no business being PIC of any aircraft under IFR, commercial or otherwise. I truly hope that comment was tounge-in-cheek, but judging from the tenor of the rest of your post it was probably not. As far as one half awake pilot being able to handle most of it, that is absolutely rediculous. I have made plenty of "tired" mistakes when all of the automation aboard my aircraft was engaged. Like any computer, it is SISO... Sh*t in, Sh*t out.

As far as a ground instructions being automatically implemented by a controller on the ground, I hope we do not soon see that come to pass. There is not yet any, nor is there planned to my knowledge, any system that will integrate all of the cues and pieces of information that a pilot uses to make decisions. Many of the cues are extremely subjective and based upon the prior experience of the pilot in question. Some cues border on the sub-concious, such as that little voice that serves as your distant early warning of trouble to come or that seat of the pants feel that the aircraft may or may not be flying quite right. No computer will be able to take all this in. Flying is not a purly mathematical exercise and never will be.

Besides, having instructions issued by someone on the ground makes aircraft operations a video game, not an act of self preservation. The old maxim currently holds true: If my ass gets there, so will the passengers'. Do you really want that to go away?
 

ePilot22

BuyTheTicket~TakeTheRide
Joined
Dec 16, 2004
Posts
903
Total Time
nfinit
LowlyPropCapt said:
Some cues border on the sub-concious, such as that little voice that serves as your distant early warning of trouble to come or that seat of the pants feel that the aircraft may or may not be flying quite right. No computer will be able to take all this in. Flying is not a purly mathematical exercise and never will be.
Well said! This is what I think the flying public has the misconceptions about. Computers can have trouble shooting and problem solving programs, but nothing can beat a human mind when it comes to uncommon situations/events.
 

DwayneWorthless

The Supreme One
Joined
Oct 18, 2005
Posts
113
Total Time
$$$$$$
What the Hell.... Who will pay their dues... It's all about the $$ money...
 

SDF2BUF2MCO

Bird Nerd
Joined
May 13, 2002
Posts
7,673
Total Time
Adding
One Person Cockpits Will Be Next

Think before we go to "pilotless" cockpits we'll have one person cockpits will be next. It has been brought up before. Even this month's ATW mag has an article talking about Boeing's (probably Airbus too) effort to go to one person "crews". Get the sequencing down to a science and the ability to deviate the one person cockpit will be the place to catch up on some reading. The mystique is almost gone.
 

ackattacker

Client 9
Joined
Nov 14, 2004
Posts
2,125
Total Time
hah!
Skyline said:
I would like to see ATC instructions come into the plane via an email like system. The plane alerts the crew to an instruction from ATC and makes the changes through the flight computer and all the crew has to do is give a one word verification to the computer to accept the change. Even emergencies could be handled by the computer. It is almost that way now.
There is such a system in place... jumpseating across the pacific, noticed that 100 mile out the pilots did an HF radio check (for backup purposes only), took of their earpieces, and from then on all communications were through the FMS. Punch in "request FL350" and the FMS comes back with "350 approved, report reaching". Then the FMS automatically sends the report at 350... this system is already in place. I believe it's a satellite link. I've heard a similar system exists for the Atlantic, but I'm not positive.

As for a single-pilot cockpit... we MAY see that in our lifetime. But right now the level of advanced automation required for that is actually much more expensive than paying another pilot. The military is going with unmanned aerial vehicles, but they have much different reasoning than civilian flights. An unmanned military plane can be build cheaper, since it's not carrying live humans and therefore doesn't need as much redundancy. An unmanned or "one-manned" airliner needs more redundancy, not less.

But the technology certainly does exist. A little birdy told me that a B-2 (for example) can be brought down without crew intervention. The technology is expensive, but worth it to save a two billion dollar aircraft. If you put that technology on a Boeing, I suppose it would be safe to fly it single-pilot.
 

KigAir

Viva France!
Joined
Apr 7, 2002
Posts
575
Total Time
-3.14
I wounder how a computer would have handled the JetBlue flight at LAX?
 

Skyline

Well-known member
Joined
Sep 22, 2005
Posts
230
Total Time
6400
Lowlypropcapt

Lowlypropcapt,

I don't know where you have been lately, but these wonder kids who start with a regional with only a few hundred hours mostly can't fly basic attitude instrument. I worked for a few airlines and the younger ones were great at the automation but take away the flight directer and you were a few minutes away from crashing. This current generation is bypassing all of the jobs where they would have gotten a baseline of hardball instrument skills. Management doesnt care. They want you using the automation, in fact it was required at one of the companies I worked for. I went to a group interview a few years back where 10 of us worked our way through three simulators. These guys were all regional captains on dash 8's and RJ's and by the end only three of us passed. Most of the rest crashed. I was in the sim with a dash 8 captain and an RJ guy. The RJ guy was totally lost and crashed a few miles short of the runway on a simple ILS. And that is why I say that even today hand flying an ILS is an emergency procedure at most airlines.

Skyline
 

LowlyPropCapt

PBR For Life, and Beyond!
Joined
Jul 14, 2005
Posts
1,256
Total Time
8000+
Skyline said:
Lowlypropcapt,

I don't know where you have been lately, but these wonder kids who start with a regional with only a few hundred hours mostly can't fly basic attitude instrument. I worked for a few airlines and the younger ones were great at the automation but take away the flight directer and you were a few minutes away from crashing. This current generation is bypassing all of the jobs where they would have gotten a baseline of hardball instrument skills. Management doesnt care. They want you using the automation, in fact it was required at one of the companies I worked for. I went to a group interview a few years back where 10 of us worked our way through three simulators. These guys were all regional captains on dash 8's and RJ's and by the end only three of us passed. Most of the rest crashed. I was in the sim with a dash 8 captain and an RJ guy. The RJ guy was totally lost and crashed a few miles short of the runway on a simple ILS. And that is why I say that even today hand flying an ILS is an emergency procedure at most airlines.

Skyline
We agree on one thing... The instrument skills of the folks in the entry level regional jobs is, by and large, atrocious. I will say however that many of the UND, Perdue and Riddle "Wunderkinder" that I have flown with have caught on rather fast, but it is a very steep learning curve. In the interest if full disclosure, I too am one of them, being an ERAU grad. However, If the what I am seeing on the line is any judge at all there are some serious omissions in all of the collegiate flight programs. I feel I was better prepared, although I did a couple thousand hours of instructing and other flying before anyone let me near an airliner. Even then, it ate my lunch for a while.

I guess I am old fashioned, but the death of basic stick and rudder skills, along with good old common sense is going to get someone killed. Unfortunately I think it will be sooner rather than later. I hope I am wrong.
 

Gobi Gred

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 30, 2001
Posts
152
Total Time
15000
I think it will still be awhile before we see single pilot crews on airliners. I'll start thinking it's closer to reality when I can take a nap, read etc. with a fed in the jumpseat while the other guy flies. I remember being told in college 10 years ago that NDBs would be completely gone soon and that VORs would be gone by the turn of the century. Funny, I just did an approach last week that (gasp) said ADF required. As for pilotless airliners, I don't see it happening in my lifetime. Somebody has to be there to pull and reset breakers when the computer locks up.
 
Top