An Airbus executive says they have the technology to develop autonomous commercial aircraft. But we still have to convince passengers and authorities.
How long will it be until we see planes without pilots , or with only one crew member in the flight deck? According to Airbus it could be sooner than expected. Because if it’s a technology issue, it can be easily solved.
The chief commercial officer of Airbus, Christian Scherer, said in an interview with Associated Press that the European group” has the technology for autonomous flights” or with a single pilot.
The director said that its development “is not a technology problem. It is a matter of interaction with authorities and perception among passengers,” he said.
“When can we have this technology in a commercial airplane? We are discussing it with regulators and users, but if it is for technology, we do not see a problem,” the executive added.
Planes without a pilot is nothing new. They are called drones and serve for military operations of espionage and bombing. But the jump from the war field to civil conflict with the reluctance of governments and consumers.
Several of these aircraft without humans at the controls are being presented these days at the Paris Air Show, but the memory of the latest plane crashes, among them those of the B737 MAX in Indonesia and Ethiopia do not provide a favorable environment to discuss these ideas.
In February of last year, a Boeing senior executive had slipped a similar idea, proposing that flights be operated by a single pilot. Twenty years ago, technology banished the need for the flight engineer, and the vice president of the company, Mike Sinnett, saw it as a logical evolution of the sector.
But accidents such as the deliberate fall of the Germanwings flight by co-pilot Andrea Lubtiz are the flag of the pilot associations for rejecting this plan.
Even Sinnett said that Boeing intends to develop a model that can take off, fly and land without human assistance . “The basic elements of technology are available, but we are studying how we can combine them to develop the necessary algorithms,” he said.
Airlines have always looked closely at the evolution of unmanned aircraft. If it were a reality, it would be a valuable alternative to cut staff costs, between salaries and training.
According to Boeing’s latest analysis in the next decade, it will take 44,000 aircraft to meet market demand. Between the renewals and the extensions of the fleets the airlines will invest 2.76 trillion euros until 2028.
And this growth will be geometric: “The good fundamentals of the market will propitiate the doubling of the commercial aircraft fleet in the next two decades”, analyzed Randy Tinseth, Vice President of Marketing of Boeing Commercial Airplanes.
More airplanes means more personnel. Boeing estimates that in the next ten years civil aviation will need to hire 2.5 million people, including pilots, technicians and cabin crew.