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Pilotless Airliners Coming? Would You Fly On One?

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Written by Charlie

Are pilotless airliners coming soon? Would you fly on one, even if the prices were lower? Here are some things that people think about.

There have been reports and news stories out the last few days that say that the technology could be in place by 2025 for airplanes to be flown entirely by computer, in other words, pilotless in the human sense. They say that this could save billions but would it really save any money at all?

Pilotless Airliners Coming?

The report that was put together by UBS states that such a move could save the industry $35 billion but then says that a survey shows that only 17% of passengers would by a ticket on such a plane. I know this is the way we are (slowly) moving with cars and that the driverless car is actually something on the roads in places now.

Would You Fly On One?

But, putting computers in full charge of airplanes is an entirely different scenario. If the computer malfunctions in a car or something happens, a possible kill switch could prevent any huge damage. But pushing a kill switch on an airplane would be far more devastating. Of course, this is something that many of that 83% of people surveyed were probably thinking.

Another area of concern is that even in in this modern age, security experts still have concerns about the hack ability of aircrafts in their current technological state. Whenever something is put online, it is open to attack and has vulnerabilities that hackers are eager to exploit. Imagine a hacker taking over a pilotless plane’s computer system – and possibly not even having to be onboard the aircraft at all. I am sure that by around 2030 (when the report says the technology will be in place for commercial aircraft, probably in commercial airlines before 2040), they will have put a lot of safeguards in place to protect. But as long as such a system would need to have safety protocols for control by air traffic control or anything else, it would also be vulnerable to outside attacks.

Yet another thing to think about is computer failure. Oaf course, again, this type of system would be built with far greater durability and resistance to failures by typical systems. But, given how airline systems continue to go down and have systemwide shutdowns as a result, I think many passengers would be wary about having an airplane controlled by a computer.

At the end of the day, airlines will only make this move if they think it is going to increase their profits. If they find that passengers are unwilling to fly onboard such planes, it will prevent airlines from using these systems. I am all for technology and really like it but I don’t think there is a big chance of me flying on such a plane. But, let’s see what the next 13 years bring! I mean, it worked for the Jetsons so maybe it will work for us at some point. 🙂

I think the biggest disadvantage for people with this at this point is we are thinking about where tech is now, in 2017. But, 13 years is a long time in the space of tech so who knows how advanced such systems could be by then.


Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock

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About the author


Charlie has been an avid traveler and runner for many years. He has run in marathons around the world for less than it would cost to travel to the next town - all as a result of collecting and using miles and points. Over the years, he has flown hundreds of thousands of miles and collected millions of miles and points.
Now he uses this experience and knowledge to help others through Running with Miles.