Would you get on a plane without a pilot?

How comfortable would you feel when you boarded a plane without a pilot?

That's the question that millions of people around the world might be doing in the future when they want to go on vacation.

As we approach a world with driverless cars, which are in the United States and also tested in London, pilotless aircraft can be the next automated mode of transport.

The Boeing aircraft manufacturer plans to test them in 2018. But according to a survey by the UBS financial services firm, pilotless aircraft are not very popular.

54% of the 8,000 people interrogated said they would be unlikely to take a flight without a pilot.

Uber's plans to work with cars without a driver were thwarted by an accident.

Older groups were the most resilient, as more than half of the people over 45 years rejected the idea.

Only 17% said that they would board a plane of this type and the young people between 25 to 34 years are the ones who were most willing to go aboard.

Fears of security

One of the biggest points of discussion around the introduction of aircraft without a pilot is security.

While flying is generally considered one of the safest ways to travel, the UBS report suggested that pilotless aircraft would be even safer.

About 70% to 80% of the air accidents that occur are caused by human errors, with the fatigue of the crew responsible for 15% to 20% of the same.

Probability of pilot-free flights by age groups

However, Steve Landells, a flight security specialist at the British Airline Pilots Association (BALPA), said: "We are concerned that in the excitement of this futuristic idea, some may forget the reality of air travel without a pilot."

"Automation in the cockpit is not something new, it already performs operations." However, every day pilots have to intervene when automatic controls don't do what they're supposed to, "he explained.

"Computers can fail and often do." It still takes someone to get that computer to walk, "added Landells.

It is also clear that if pilotless aircraft became the norm, then levels of military security both within the aircraft and in communications would be vital.

Uncomfortable Idea?

Jugd Castle, director of Business services, leisure and travel at UBS, told the BBC: "It's a matter of public perception and people who feel comfortable with the idea."

"It is clear that a seven-hour flight with 200 to 300 people would be the last part of the evolution of this process, but the machines can also take places gradually and then reduce the number of pilots in the cockpit two to one over time."

CĂ©line Fornaro of UBS added, "The smaller the plane and the number of passengers, the more realistic it will be to see this."

"It's not just our opinion, companies like Airbus are trying to get into this world where they could have small helicopters with two or three people without a crew."

Air transport consultant John Strickland believes that planes without pilots could definitely become a reality, as long as certain obstacles are overcome.

"It's conceivable, but it would be something that will go very far in the future," he said to the BBC.
"There should be a new general approach to security and a psychological barrier to gain public confidence," he said.

"We climbed to monorail at airports and traveled on some trains and vehicles without driver, but all the psychology of being in the air and not having humans in driving is quite a challenge."


UBS says that airlines could save more than US $26 billion in pilot costs if this type of aircraft is introduced.

He added that such a measure would also make the commercial aircraft industry save up to US $3 billion and civilian helicopters, around US $2.1 billion.

More than US $3 billion would also save on insurance premiums and there would be additional income opportunities for the increase in the number of commercial and cargo flights.


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