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Cathay working with Airbus on single-pilot system for long-haul

20 Comments
By Laurence Frost

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The people proposing these ideas have never been in a cockpit when systems go south, warning lights start to flash, horns blare, needles on guages roll off to zero and the workload is almost too much for two now very wide awake pilots. You do NOT want one pilot snoozing when the doo-doo hits the fan because they will be totally disoriented for critical seconds as they wake up and sort through the chaos they will see around them. Not a good idea. I can also say that on long boring night flights it can be tough to stay away. Best to have two sets of eyes in the cockpit at all times.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

I'd rather pay a little extra to have two pilots in the cockpit. I was on a flight to Fukuoka that had system trouble so we had to turn back to Kansai airport and I tell you it was not fun, makes you realise how precarious your situation is while you're in the sky

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Not good.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

So what happens when the pilot has a seizure or heart attack?

What if the pilot has a negative reaction to a vaccine?

1 ( +3 / -2 )

There used to be a flight engineer and navigator in the cockpit until fairly recently. Now it is all managed by two pilots. Ok when everything is going smoothly but when there are cascading systems failures more trained people in the cockpit are helpful, maybe even essential. A good flight engineer could catch things a pilot busy flying and talking on the radio might not notice in a timely fashion and deal with it after notifying the captain.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

I'm sure single pilot operation will eventually become technically feasible, but how do you prevent another Germanwings 9525, or MH370 scenario? Depressed suicidal pilots do exist. I'm willing to pay extra for two or more people in the cockpit at all times.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Recent pilot suicides in Europe and Malaysia taking the passengers with them makes me think having one person in control is not a good idea.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Why not just have remote ground based pilots, as is done piloting drones? A single drone operator could oversee the autopilot of many planes simultaneously, thereby producing significant cost reductions and increasing profitability many times over.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

They should first try single pilot operations on no passenger flights

3 ( +3 / -0 )

That's scary and nuts.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Cost-cutting at the expense of people's lives? I won't ride their planes.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

"We struggle to understand the rationale....." say the pilots.

I am on the side of the pilots. It is too dangerous.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

@Shinichi Hamada

So what happens when the pilot has a seizure or heart attack?

There would be a pilot monitoring system, similar to Shinkansen driver monitoring system. Shinkansen trains have single driver in case you aren't aware.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

There would be a pilot monitoring system, similar to Shinkansen driver monitoring system. Shinkansen trains have single driver in case you aren't aware.

This supposed driver monitoring system didn't prevent a Shinkansen driver from getting up and taking a rest room break en-route, leaving the train steaming along at high speed with nobody at the controls.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Why not just have remote ground based pilots, as is done piloting drones? 

At least in military service non-combat losses of UASs from system failures is much higher, border on an order of magnitude higher than for manned aircraft. Remote pilots cannot see and feel what is going on during a system failure so they too often result in loss of the UAS. I will also ad that satellite bandwidth is already limiting UAS operations that require a satellite uplink to command the UAS remotely. It is not the same as standing there in your yard with a controller operating a quadcopter line of sight. UASs require satellite connections to work and the bandwidth is already saturated. That bandwidth is also pretty expensive and real time communications and remote sensing consumes a lot of bandwidth.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

They should first try single pilot operations on no passenger flights

Sounds reasonable, maybe haul air freight that way to beta test the control system. But consider what happens when an unmanned cargo jet makes and unscheduled, nose down, landing in somebodies neighborhood. Could a pilot in the cockpit have saved it?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The new system will activate by mistake and fly the plane into the ground. The pilots will not be able to disconnect it in time. All it takes is faulty sensor readings.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

On a lighter note, this reminds me of the movie "Airplane" with the autopilot named Otto.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

On a lighter note, this reminds me of the movie "Airplane" with the autopilot named Otto.

We used to refer to the autopilot as George. Let George fly the plane.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I wouldn't fly on one of these.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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