Planes without pilots could be used for passenger air travel in the future – and much sooner than you might expect.
Knowing that there are at least two trained people in charge of an aircraft makes flying a lot less stressful.
However, they could soon be taken out of the equation, with “autonomous” planes a potential way for airlines to cut costs, The Sun reports.
Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun said there are still some processes to work out before it can be implemented properly, but said it’s not that far away.
“It’s going to take time. Everyone’s got to build confidence. We need a certification process that we all have faith and believe in,” he told Bloomberg TV.
Forbes claim that small, self-flying planes “could be carrying passengers by the end of this decade”.
However, not everyone in the aviation industry is convinced that pilotless planes are a good idea just yet.
Dennis Tajer, who has been a pilot for 35 years and is spokesman for the US-based Allied Pilots Association, said the idea was focused exclusively on saving money.
He told Forbes: “It’s all about money. Manufacturers are looking for the next innovative technology to deploy so that they can sell it and make money, and airlines are looking at how they can do this more cheaply.”
The technology isn’t that new, with autonomous planes having been used for military purposes for decades.
However, airline manufacturers are reportedly now looking at using the tech for commercial flights.
It’s expected that once it’s brought in, safety pilots would initially need to be on board the aeroplane, in case of any problems.
They would be able to manually override the self-flying plane’s systems and steer the aircraft manually.
To begin with, the technology is likely to be used on cargo planes.
However, passenger aircraft are likely to follow suit soon after.
Stephane Fymat, who helps create autopilot systems for planes said: “All of these companies are really looking forward to the day where there will not be a pilot on board. They’re all planning for it, in fact, and we’re helping them get there.”
Pilotless travel has been proposed before, with Boeing previously suggesting that self-flying planes are possible thanks to drone technology.
And travel booking company Kiwi.com has invested into Zuri, a pilotless plane that could carry up to four passengers.
This story originally appeared on The Sun and is republished here with permission