Aircraft Manufacturers Prepare for Uncrewed Future Written 6 September 2023


Twinjet flight simulator cockpit; Wikipedia; Public Domain

Politico reports that every commercial flight “has two pilots at the controls – but some planemakers are now designing cockpits that need fewer pilots, or someday even none.” So far, their airline customers “have been quiet on the issue, but pilots’ unions across the globe are getting louder, saying any fewer than two pilots is dangerous.” The idea “is most active in Europe, where French manufacturers Airbus and Dassault are pushing for regulators to allow passenger planes to operate with only one pilot in the cockpit for the majority of a long-haul flight.” European Cockpit Association President and KLM Captain Otjan de Bruijn said, “It’s a commercially-driven initiative with enormous risks for passengers, for pilots, and for cabin crew.” At present, this is theoretical, but manufacturers “are actively developing and testing a host of autonomous flight projects, including for commercial uses.” And EASA, the European Union’s aviation regulator, “is considering a concept that would have two pilots in the cockpit only for take-off and landing.” For the rest of the flight, the second pilot “would rest outside the cockpit, swapping shifts mid-way through a long-haul flight.” EASA is “expected to sign off on this by 2027.” A FAA official “said the agency is not considering any of the proposals that EASA is weighing.”
Full Story (Politico)