Boeing: Automated planes to be tested in USA next year

A number of interviewed people seem to be reluctant to board the said aircraft once start operations.

Boeing: Automated planes to be tested in USA next year

A number of interviewed people seem to be reluctant to board the said aircraft once start operations.

11 August 2017 Friday 13:01
Boeing: Automated planes to be tested in USA next year

By Felix Andrew and agencies

AS the plane manufacturer Boeing announce to test pilotless aircraft next year, there emerged fears among passengers regarding its safety.

A number of interviewed people seem to be reluctant to board the said aircraft once start operations.

A survey by financial services firm UBS suggests that pilotless aircraft not be too popular, however, with 54 percent of the 8,000 people questioned saying they would be unlikely to take a pilotless flight because of safety.

It further show that  only  17 percent  of those questioned said they would board such a plane, with more young people willing to give them a try and the 25 to 34 age group the most likely to step on board.

While flying is generally regarded as one of the safest forms of travel, the UBS report suggested that pilotless planes would make it even more secure.

It found that around 70 percent to 80 percent  of the accidents that do occur are the result of human error, with crew fatigue responsible for 15 percent  to 20 percent  of those.

However, Steve Landells, the British Airline Pilots Association's (Balpa) flight safety specialist, said: "We have concerns that in the excitement of this futuristic idea, some may be forgetting the reality of pilotless air travel.

He said automation in the cockpit is not a new thing - it already supports operations ,however, every single day pilots have to intervene when the automatics don't do what they're supposed to.

It is also clear that if pilotless planes were to become the norm, then military levels of security both inside the plane and in communications would be vital.

Jarrod Castle, UBS's head of business services, leisure and travel research, told the BBC: "It is a question of public perception and people being comfortable with the idea.

"Clearly a seven-hour flight carrying 200 to 300 people would be the last part of the evolution but we also feel that machines can gradually take over and then reduce the number of pilots in the cockpit from two to one over time."

Céline Fornaro of UBS added: "The smaller the plane and amount of passengers, the more realistic it is to see this.

"It is not just our view, companies like Airbus are trying to get into this world where you could have small helicopters carrying two or three people unmanned."

 Air transport consultant John Strickland believes pilotless planes could definitely become a reality, as long as certain hurdles are overcome.

"It is conceivable but would be some way off in the future," he told the BBC. "There would have to be an overall focus on safety and there would be a psychological barrier to get over to win the public's trust.

"We step on monorails at airports and travel in some driverless trains and cars, but the whole psychology of being in the air and not having humans at the front is quite a challenge."

UBS says airlines could save more than $26bn (£20bn) in pilot costs by introducing pilotless aircraft and added that such a move would save the business jet industry up to $3bn and civil helicopters about $2.1bn.

More than $3bn would also be saved in lower insurance premiums and there would be chances of extra revenue from increased numbers of cargo and commercial flights.

Azania Post

Updated: 11.08.2017 13:12
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