How do you solve the problem of not enough pilots? Forget paying higher wages so that more people will want the job. Coming up with a way to operate with just one pilot on board is going to be part of the discussion. NASA is working with avionics behemoth Rockwell Collins to study whether it is even feasible or viable to operate in a single pilot flight deck scenario. There would still be a second pilot involved, but they would be on the ground, operating remotely, rather than in the sky with the pilot. And there’s no indication that it is coming any time soon, either. It would potentially be decades before it would even be close to a real idea. From the WSJ:
Whether the concept will eventually come to fruition depends on political viability and social acceptability as well as technical feasibility. The researchers aren’t endorsing the idea or devising specific plans for single-pilot operation of large commercial jets. Rather, they seek to analyze changes in technology and operations that could make the concept feasible in the future—even if that means as far off as 2030.
The study will last four years and cover things like the technology required and what the social impact would be between the two pilots operating in different locations.
Given that the industry cannot even get the bandwidth and systems in place today to fully monitor all commercial planes while they’re flying it is rather far-fetched to believe that this will happen anytime soon. But in the long term the technology will catch up. And similar efforts are already working with military drones. Though it is a bit different when you’ve got a couple hundred passengers on board as well.
So, are you ready for your flight to operate by remote control??
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