Would you fly in an automated plane?

A blog posted on July 24th, 2013 by Smart Manufacturing, http://smartmanufacturing.com/2013/07/, addresses the issue of how pilot-less airplanes may initially leave people feeling uneasy. This is despite the fact that Google has successfully driven a car over half a million miles without a driver.

A frequent flier brought up several key points on why an automated pilot might be safer in a recent discussion on Quora. The following are a few of their reasons:

  • We already know that there are visibility conditions where planes cannot land by sight, but planes are allowed to do instrument landings.
  • There’s no guarantee that I get Captain Sully on my flight. I could get the guy (like on Asiana) who was landing this plane for the first time at this airport.
  • A lot of flying is routine. Computers perform routine tasks better than humans. There are corner cases where humans could perform better. But that means I’d be betting on me being in a corner case. And for automated flights to be offered, presumably more of the corner cases would be solved.
  • Computers don’t get tired or drunk or distracted.
  • Computers don’t have egos. If the situation calls for a go-around, they aren’t going to push forward anyway.

The blog continues to ask the question, but what does any of this have to do with smart manufacturing? Similarly to flying, manufacturing has been done in a similar way for decades, so we naturally assume that it will continue to be done in the same manner. But, once we bring a new technologically driven solution into the mix, we realize that there could be a more efficient, safer, and cost effective way of doing things.

Would you ride in a plane without a pilot in the future? How would the FAA feel about pilot-less airplanes? Would pilot-less airplanes be safer than piloted airplanes?

2 thoughts on “Would you fly in an automated plane?

  1. With all due respect, no matter how advanced technology gets, I will never get on a plane without there being a pilot. The reasons you state are certainly true, but what happens in the event of a malfunction in the operating system? That plane is surely headed for disaster. That idea wouldn’t make it past the FAA. Air travel is the safest mode of transport, from a statistical standpoint. The “feds” will not be willing to jeopardize that.

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  2. I believe there will soon be a time when the flights will be automated with maybe a single pilot standing or sitting somewhere remote for emergency purposes. Even today, we have flying drones being used in military applications and an airplane being run on autopilot mode. I believe a fully communicating airplane (with automated flight controller tower) can fly and even diagnose the potential problem before it takes off.

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