This topic comes up every now and then amongst pilots. Aeroplanes are getting more and more advanced and the technical requirement for human pilots being in control is diminishing. Let’s say that sometime in the near future, the infrastructure and technology was readily available to be able to remove the pilot from the aeroplane. It is shown that accident rates would be lower. There would be no pilot error accidents but there would still be occasions where the aeroplane couldn’t come up with an out-of-the-box solution to a problem. In this future world, a Sullenburger accident would have resulted in fatalities but Air France passengers would have made it to their destination never suspecting something was wrong (the autopilot would’ve set known attitude and thrust values on detection of the airdata fault).
The question is, would you step on to an aeroplane knowing it was just George the autopilot driving up the front?
- No pilot.
- Accident rates are lower with pilot errors removed but pilot-did-good incidents also removed
- The technology is such that there are no new failure modes, it’s all the same problems we have today but they are handled in a preprogrammed way.