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Date: 02/07/12 08:13
Pilots Or No Pilots
Author: millerdc

Even though this is about aviation, just substitute railroads instead of airplanes.

Steve Chealander, member of the NTSB 2007-2009, is a retired American Captain. He gave a safety presentation at recurrent training about two years ago. He opened the floor for questions and one guy asked facetiously when are we going to one pilot cockpit?

Chealander said that is not funny. He said Fed Ex and UPS are now, (two years ago), working on the procedures for a one-pilot long haul over-water operation. The pilot would be at the controls for takeoff and landing then go to the bunk for cruise while the guy back in Memphis would take over for the cruise. One pilot passenger flights will take a bit longer to get approved.

Twelve years ago, I was Director of Operations for the Alaska Air Guard. I went to a high-level conference and this three-star General gave a presentation that said the exact same thing the major said. The only limitation on fighter aircraft now is the pilot. We have the technology to do everything from the ground and it will be a huge cost savings. No search and rescue, no life support systems, no backlash when we lose a plane. So this article is right on the money.

I attended a flight safety presentation last evening from a retired AF Major test pilot from Edwards, Bill Koukourikas, now serving there as a civilian. During the course of his presentation, his statement, "No future attack military aircraft within the next 15 years will have pilots in the cockpit. The last tactical aircraft with a pilot in the cockpit will be the F-35."

He also indicated that, within the next 10 or so years, all UPS and FedEx cargo flights will be with pilot-less aircraft. This prediction comes from their test shop at Edwards. All drone testing, development, etc., is taking place just south of Edwards in the Palmdale area. Sounds like a continuation of the Skunk Works developments of Lockheed which previously took place in that area."
Simply amazing! Hey, are we a dying breed or what?

Captain Hague's thoughts:
This post puts me in mind of the joke that was going around the cockpit 40+ years ago: "The cockpit crew of the future will consist of a guy in a lab coat with a clip board and a monkey with a baseball bat to smack the guy in the lab coat if he touches anything."

Is the single-pilot/no pilot it good or bad? It's neither, of course. It simply is. We'll individually assign a value judgment to it according to which side of the street that we now or used to work.
I hearken back to the first monorail at Disneyland. At first, no one would ride it because there was no driver. Disney hired a wino to sit in the front of the lead car as it ran between the hotel and the park. There was a set of non-functioning, but impressive-looking set of dummy controls. When the passengers exited, the wino would walk to the other end of the car and sit there for the 90 second trip and repeat his actions until his shift ended. After six months, they fired the wino, but no one noticed and the success of the monorail is history.

Does the next generation of aircraft need pilots? Probably not with the state of avionics and navigation gear. Would it be seductive to the operators of these planes to have computers that never call in sick, never miss a trip, don't need a set of windows that cost more than all of the houses on your block, instrument and CRT arrays? On the other hand, what happens in the event of another 9/11 when aircraft are told to land immediately at the nearest suitable?

I think of what I do today: build, repair, and maintain Windows PCs. I fully expect that, in less than five years, that you'll be buying an integrated mouse, keyboard and screen that, five seconds after you turn it on, it will have contacted The Cloud, given you access to your operating system, applications, and data- none of which are stored on your desk.

During the transition, of course, I'll have a couple of years to service those folks that are wary of move from the home office to The Cloud. But it will be of no matter. The forces that drive the industry- companies and the governments that buy computers in huge quantities- will insist that the technology be implemented. As folks in the workplace become used to the idea, they'll have them in their homes within a couple of years. Another wino fired (in this case, me).

So goes progress.

Politics will, of course, attempt to insinuate itself into the process, of course, like the buggy whip manufacturers did when the horseless carriage was starting to catch on. They got the best justice that money could buy when they bought a law that said that every car had to have a buggy whip holder and whip. In the global market, however, the gummint doesn't stand a chance, so I'm not that worried about their levels of control over the Internet.

I take joy and gratitude for the fact that I started in props, moved to turbines, and finished my career in aviation as the Safety Program Manager for the FAA teaching pilots that, for the most part, flew behind props.



Date: 02/07/12 09:00
Re: Pilots Or No Pilots
Author: ireuven

This will be really bad, I didn't have time to read the whole story, but I would HATE having huge FedEx 777 Drones flying in the Sky's or with the a old senior pilot that might have a heart attack on final approach.
I think we should keep the regular pilots position, 2 pilots for flights under 8 hours FedEx or Pax, and 3-4 pilots for flights more then 8+ hours. I would not like having a guy from Memphis flying my parcel, I would rather have 2 very experienced pilots flying my parcel. Also I hope that in the future we will have at least 2 pilots at all time for all flights.
Thank you,
ireuven



Date: 02/07/12 09:06
Re: Pilots Or No Pilots
Author: Ray_Murphy

Right. Nothing ever goes wrong in commercial aviation anymore that requires pilot skill to deal with.

Ray



Date: 02/07/12 09:07
Re: Pilots Or No Pilots
Author: Narniaman

Just a couple of thoughts. . . .

Driving the Disneyland Monorail would be about as difficult as being an elevator operator. No crossings, no traffic, no pedestrians, no opposing traffic. In fact, that's all the Disneyland Monorail is -- a horizontal elevator which bears a passing resemblance to a train.

Now there's no question at all that a computer can probably do a much better job on an instrument landing than a real live human person -- as long as everything is working perfectly. When something goes wrong, though. . . . .how good does the computer do with unforeseen emergencies?

Consider a train. Could a computer run it? Sure -- no question about it. Model hobbyists can run trains.

But how well does the computer do in unforeseen situations? Is it going to do the right thing. . . . .when a car runs a crossing and t-bones a boxcar ten cars back of the locomotive? About when a knuckle breaks? How does the computer do in getting a unit that's dropped out restarted? How about noticing something wrong on a passing train? When a train comes up on a coffin on the tracks. . . .how does the computer do handling that situation?

Having a pilot's license and engineer background, I'm sure that pilotless fighter planes will eventually replace all planes with pilots, just as guided missiles no longer require Kamikaze pilots. But I really, really doubt that there will ever be an advantage to have a computer and/or remote pilot operate either a train or a transport airplane.



Date: 02/07/12 09:11
Re: Pilots Or No Pilots
Author: WAF

Ray_Murphy Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Right. Nothing ever goes wrong in commercial
> aviation anymore that requires pilot skill to deal
> with.
>
> Ray

Tell that to Capt Sullenburger or Al Haynes. I know your kidding ( I hope)



Date: 02/07/12 09:14
Re: Pilots Or No Pilots
Author: a737flyer

Ray_Murphy Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Right. Nothing ever goes wrong in commercial
> aviation anymore that requires pilot skill to deal
> with.
>
> Ray


Hahahahahahahahaha. That's rich!



Date: 02/07/12 09:19
Re: Pilots Or No Pilots
Author: ddg

Right now they could fly planes (or locomotives) from the India call center.



Date: 02/07/12 09:25
Re: Pilots Or No Pilots
Author: BabyHuey2926

The moment the public starts even seeing the idea of one pilot of no pilot...airline ridership goes into the drain...



Date: 02/07/12 09:35
Re: Pilots Or No Pilots
Author: jimB

I think it is clear that for military use, the advantages of pilot-less aircraft is where they are going. Of course, there are probably more of these vehicles lost because of lost communications or problems a pilot could have dealt with (Iran capturing a drone! Really?), but that is probably an acceptable tradeoff to avoid combat air crew loses, POW's and to get greater than 9 G performance.

Different trade off for commercial planes and trains. I think politics will demand a human up front, probably backed up by automation, or monitoring automation (which humans don't do that well). If you are paying a human to sit up front, might as well give him something to do to stay awake and in the loop.

I do think that with better evolved automation, like PTC (if it actually works) and advancing aviation flight management systems, there will be a push for single pilot and train crew operation. Better have some support available for the one man train crew. I don't think you want him walking the train!

Automation does a great job on the routine, but humans improvise a lot better.

Jim B



Date: 02/07/12 09:45
Re: Pilots Or No Pilots
Author: 2720

BabyHuey2926 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> The moment the public starts even seeing the idea
> of one pilot of no pilot...airline ridership goes
> into the drain...

...just hire the Disney wino to walk into the cockpit,
drop down the hatch into the avionics bay and out the nose
gear well and over to the next gate to repeat the process!!
The passengers will never know the difference!
Mike



Date: 02/07/12 09:48
Re: Pilots Or No Pilots
Author: TAW

WAF Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Ray_Murphy Wrote:
> --------------------------------------------------
> -----
> > Right. Nothing ever goes wrong in commercial
> > aviation anymore that requires pilot skill to
> deal
> > with.
> >
> > Ray
>
> Tell that to Capt Sullenburger or Al Haynes. I
> know your kidding ( I hope)

I think that is what he meant.

TAW



Date: 02/07/12 10:03
Re: Pilots Or No Pilots
Author: GN599

At the railroad its a heated subject right now. With PTC coming there is a lot of uncertainty. Some think there will always be two of us in the locomotive cab and that they will both be engineers. Some think that it will be only one person and it will be an engineer. Some people think that if they force everyone to be engineers they will let the conductors that passed up engineer promotion have dates ahead of the people that already are engineers and they will be the lone man in the cab. Then there is the arguement that nobody will be up there and they will have a roving type of utility man assigned to so many miles of track. They will change knuckles and link up to the train with a belt pac to set out a bad order or spot an industry. Then put the train back in control of the operator say in Fort Worth and it will be on its way. Seems kinda like a stretch to me. I could see everyone in the cab being engineer qualified some day but the rest I am not sure about.



Date: 02/07/12 10:11
Re: Pilots Or No Pilots
Author: millerdc

Now there's no question at all that a computer can probably do a much better job on an instrument landing than a real live human person -- as long as everything is working perfectly. When something goes wrong, though. . . . .how good does the computer do with unforeseen emergencies?

I believe, that by regulation, all instrument approaches on FAR 121 operations have to be flown with the autopilot coupled.



Date: 02/07/12 10:17
Re: Pilots Or No Pilots
Author: jpf94

Sun Country airlines flight from Minneapolis to Orlando is inbound at MCO at about 1 mile from touchdown and 300 feet off the ground. The pilots see something in the clouds and rain on the runway that concerns them, they do a power up left side extension and we go around. The pilots told us they did not like the intense rain that had suddenly formed on the runway at the exact spot we were to touch down. Afterwards a review of the radar for the time showed nothing severe nor any evidence of wind sheer. The pilot had 27 years and the co pilot had 21 years of service, they were not comfortable with the landing circumstances. Would have had a problem, I don't know, but if the people did not like it, why risk it? Go around and try it again. How would a computer handle that? I'll take the 15 minute delay and the so called inconvienance of a go around over pushing a potentially unsafe landing attempt any time. The human brain is still the best computer available, and i feel vital to safe flying.

The same for trains. Humans need to be at the controls, technology is great as a tool, but it should never be used as an exclusive replacement for people in transportation modes.

I always remember that computers are man made, they will fail, EVERYTHING man made eventually does.



Date: 02/07/12 10:22
Re: Pilots Or No Pilots
Author: bobs

I wonder how many riders actually realize that the "engineer" on their BART or DC Metro train isn't actually running the train today? And it's been this way since these systems opened. The driver usually only opens and closes the doors and all the rest is computer controlled.



Date: 02/07/12 11:30
Re: Pilots Or No Pilots
Author: joeygooganelli

My father has been a manager at Toyota in Georgetown,KY for years. He says their plant can run completely with out people. Not one person. Toyota also knows that no one can buy their cars if no one has jobs.

At some point, and I hope that point is soon, these companies need to realize that their profits are based on PEOPLE. Period. If we keep removing ourselves from the equation, there is not a need for any of these companies.

Skynet is coming. I keep my tinfoil hat close waiting for that day.

Joe



Date: 02/07/12 13:11
Re: Pilots Or No Pilots
Author: Notch16

Apparently the Disneyland Monorail 'wino' had a couple random tasks:

http://boingboing.net/2012/01/19/howto-drive-the-disneyland-mon.html



Date: 02/07/12 13:58
Re: Pilots Or No Pilots
Author: WAF

millerdc Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Now there's no question at all that a computer can
> probably do a much better job on an instrument
> landing than a real live human person -- as long
> as everything is working perfectly. When something
> goes wrong, though. . . . .how good does the
> computer do with unforeseen emergencies?
>
> I believe, that by regulation, all instrument
> approaches on FAR 121 operations have to be flown
> with the autopilot coupled.

Airbus made that point in a public demo of auto pilot landing... the plane crashed. Didn't see the trees ahead



Date: 02/07/12 14:01
Re: Pilots Or No Pilots
Author: mustraline

<<<<<<<"No future attack military aircraft within the next 15 years will have pilots in the cockpit. The last tactical aircraft with a pilot in the cockpit will be the F-35." >>>>>>>

Both the F-35 and the F-22 were unnecessary. They have no mission, and are examples of corporate welfare. The Pentagon is years into unmanned drones and convert forces. They are already in 2/3 of the worlds countries.



Date: 02/07/12 14:04
Re: Pilots Or No Pilots
Author: mustraline

WAF Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> millerdc Wrote:
> --------------------------------------------------
> -----
> > Now there's no question at all that a computer
> can
> > probably do a much better job on an instrument
> > landing than a real live human person -- as
> long
> > as everything is working perfectly. When
> something
> > goes wrong, though. . . . .how good does the
> > computer do with unforeseen emergencies?
> >

> > I believe, that by regulation, all instrument
> > approaches on FAR 121 operations have to be
> flown
> > with the autopilot coupled.
>
> Airbus made that point in a public demo of auto
> pilot landing... the plane crashed. Didn't see the
> trees ahead

That happened in ancient history in terms of technology. It actually was a number of years ago.



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