Airplane in the sky

Are unmanned flights the future trend?

Friday, April 3, 2015

In light of the Germanwings tragedy in the French Alpes, experts have gone as far as suggest that within a few years, there won’t be anybody inside the cockpit anymore. But will people agree to board unmanned aircrafts? Let’s weigh the pros & cons.

Unmanned aircraft programs are already in use

NASA & Google are already developing projects for unmanned aircrafts or single pilot cockpits with grounded co-pilots who would be able to control several planes simultaneously. This ground controller would also be able to take over the airplane if needed. However, this raises another question: If a single person is able to control a dozen planes thanks to software, what would terrorist hackers be able to do?

Would you trust a robot?

Automating the co-pilot job might enable airlines to save money. However, humans have what robots don’t, instinct & free will which will make the difference in the event of critical situations. There will always be exceptional emergency situations and one cannot (yet) trust a robot make such crucial decisions.

Real money savings?

In terms of cost savings, the amount saved on pilots’ wages would have to be invested in R&D as well as in modifying existing planes to adapt to this expensive technology. It is therefore questionable whether or not this new trend will in fact cut costs.