Airlines urge one-pilot flights to cut costs, despite safety concerns

Airlines around the world are pushing the UN body which controls International Aviation Safety, to switch to a one-pilot model, in an effort to cut costs.

Airlines and regulators are pushing to have just one pilot in the cockpit of commercial airlines instead of two, despite safety concerns

This is where aviation has been heading for many years. In the 1950s, there was normally a Captain, a First Officer or Co-Pilot, a Flight Engineer, a Navigator, and a Radio Operator in each commercial aircraft cockpit. The latter three jobs eventually become obsolete due to technological advancements.

“We are potentially removing the last piece of human redundancy from the flight deck.”

–Janet Northcote, EASA’s Head of Communications, wrote in an email

The United Nations body that establishes aviation standards has been contacted by more than 40 nations, including Germany, the UK, and New Zealand, asking for assistance in making single-pilot flights a reality.

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency predicts that this might occur as early as 2027, although it raises safety concerns and puts more strain on pilots.

Pilots don’t like the plan very much and also, passengers find it difficult to buy in.

An Airbus SE A330 Captain for Qantas Airways is worried that before anyone else can arrive at the cockpit to offer assistance, a lone pilot will become overwhelmed by a catastrophe

Tony Lucas, an Airbus SE A330 Captain for Qantas Airways, is worried that a solo pilot would become overwhelmed by a crisis before anybody else can get to the cockpit to offer assistance. As a check and training captain as well, Lucas is concerned about the lost potential for mentoring young pilots if flight crew members work more and more independently.

“The people going down this route aren’t the people who fly jets every day. When things go awry, they go awry fairly quickly.”

–Tony Lucas, the President of the Australian & International Pilots Association and an Airbus SE A330 Captain for Qantas Airways Ltd.

The projected alterations provide numerous difficulties.

What would occur if a solo pilot passed out or began flying erratically is not yet known. A second pilot’s knowledge, safety, and immediate support would have to be replaced in some way by automation, technology, and remote aid from the ground.

If solo piloting is to become a reality, automation, technology, and remote assistance from the ground would have to in some way replace the expertise, safety, and immediate assistance of a second pilot

“The psychological barriers are probably harder than the technological barriers. The technology is there for single pilots, it’s really about where the regulators and the general public feel comfortable.”

–Alexander Feldman, Boeing Co. Southeast Asia President said at a Bloomberg business summit in Bangkok last week

The International Coordinating Council of Aerospace Industries Associations, which advocates on behalf of the world’s aircraft manufacturers, is pleading with the ICAO to develop a road map for operations involving just one pilot during non-critical times.

In an email, Airbus stated that it is considering how its aircraft might be operated with a reduced crew. For the time being, the aircraft manufacturer is working with airlines and authorities to determine if two pilots may safely take the place of three people on long-haul flights.

The aircraft manufacturer is currently coordinating with airlines and regulatory agencies to evaluate if two pilots may safely replace three on long-haul flights

In the long run, flights might be entirely automated with only limited pilot input in the cockpit.

According to EASA, the system might recognise if the pilot were incapable for any reason and then land the plane on its own at a chosen airport. According to them, such flights won’t be feasible until long after 2030.

EASA stated that it is aware of the worries people have when solo flying and that addressing them is a process.

(With inputs from Yahoo News)