“Airplanes without pilot cheaper and safer”
According to Swiss bank UBS it’s a good idea to let airplanes take off without a pilot on board. “It can save billions and it is safer”. For André Berger, pilot and aviation expert it will be inevitable on the long term, but the public won’t accept it before it has got used to autonomous cars in everyday life.
UBS, the world’s largest asset manager, says the technology is there to save 30 billion euro per year in aviation by dumping the pilot(s). Not only in labour costs, but also in insurance costs because a computer is safer to bring you to your destination than a human pilot.
“Safety statistics are distressing”
“We are evolving to this, but we’re not there yet”, says Berger. “Technology isn’t just ripe. Unmanned planes are used massively by the US army, but safety statistics are distressing. The army loses one in three planes due to problems with the automatic systems on board, the connection that is needed or technical malfunctions.”
According to Berger two conditions have to be fulfilled first to come to an unmanned civil aviation. “First we need a technical revolution to be really reliable, that might occur within ten years. Second something has to change in the heads of the passengers. They have to be confident being flown by a robot. It won’t happen before they see large numbers of autonomous driving cars on the road”.
Unmanned cargo planes
This is confirmed by the figures of a survey by UBS with some 8.000 people. 54% of them says they won’t board an airplane without a pilot, even if the ticket would be cheaper. But UBS estimates by 2025 cargo planes will fly without pilots. By 2050 passengers planes would do the same.