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Why there may soon be only one pilot on aeroplanes

Airlines will soon have a single pilot in the cockpit.!

Why there may soon be only one pilot on aeroplanes

Airlines and regulators predict that one pilot will take the place of two in the cockpit of passenger jets. Although it would lower costs and ease pressure from crew shortages, some individuals find it unsettling to give one person such authority.

More than 40 countries, including Germany, the UK, and New Zealand, have approached the United Nations organization that sets aviation rules to request aid in bringing single-pilot aircraft into the mainstream. The European Union Aviation Safety Agency has been creating standards for solo flights in addition to working with aircraft makers to comprehend how they would operate. EASA estimates that such services could start in 2027.

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In the early 1950s, the majority of aircraft that operated longer flights used to have a crew of four, consisting of two pilots, one navigator, and an additional flight engineer. This crew’s responsibilities were crucial for the safety of the flight. However, as technology advanced, it began to quickly replace the duties of the additional crew members on the aircraft. The load on the pilots decreased as the aircraft’s instrumentation gradually improved improvements.

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Since they fly in connection with the ground and satellites and with the coordination of all flight plans, airplanes are currently becoming more advanced. This makes it possible for aircraft to fly safely and be tracked. As oil costs rise, things will get worse. The effects of the impending pilot shortage would be lessened by single-pilot operations. The amount of air travel keeps growing tremendously. According to a 2018 assessment by the International Civil Aviation Organization and consulting, the world will need to train 5,50,000 more pilots by the year 2037. Around 2025, Oliver Wyman predicts a shortage of 35,000 workers or nearly 10% of the entire workforce.

Why are airlines pushing for a single pilot?

The pilot’s unions are one important issue that has a significant impact on airlines, along with the challenge of educating and retaining more pilots, as well as the remuneration of pilots, which is another important consideration for airlines.

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Airlines continuously update their pilots’ knowledge of the safe operation and routine tasks. As long as the expense of automation and the new upkeep of ground operators does not end up costing more, single pilot operations will result in cost savings for airlines. The size and amenities of the cockpit will be reduced to some extent. According to the analysis, the decision to use one pilot rather than two represents a significant cost-saving advance. According to the Swiss financial organization UBS, cutting the number of pilots from two to one would allow airlines it studied to save $15 billion, and a completely automated jet would yield an additional $20 billion.

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In order to prevent pilot tiredness, some airlines are required to conduct long-haul flights with a third pilot who can switch to the cockpit controls as necessary. Cathay Pacific asked Airbus to develop a technology that can eliminate the need for a third pilot on lengthy flights. Airbus is developing an autonomous system for the A350-1000 aircraft to reduce the need for a pilot in the cockpit. In 2018, it exhibited the capacity to pilot an aircraft with both flying and auto Descent from the cockpit capabilities.

What do pilots think of the concept of a single pilot?

Obviously, the pilot union is opposed to the idea of having only one pilot in the cockpit. They made several reasonable points regarding the advantages of having two pilots in the cockpit for airlines.

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Airlines that transport 100 passengers rely solely on their pilots, who are also responsible for ensuring that all safety-related procedures are followed. They cannot be saved from the extreme conditions of aircraft operations by any other means. To operate a plane, two pilots are required.

According to ALPA, airline pilots must be able to maintain control of an aircraft in a constantly changing and dynamic environment. We regularly carry out the required tasks: communicate with air traffic control, review the present conditions and forecasts, and monitor the operation of the engines and systems. But airline pilots also need to be able to handle the unexpected safely. The list of potential, yet unforeseeable, incidents are almost unlimited and includes things like a cargo compartment fire, a medical emergency, and disruptive passengers.

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There are numerous instances of how having two pilots in the cockpit significantly improves safety, from the well-known “Miracle on the Hudson” in 2009 to the successful safe landing of Southwest Flight 1380 in April. However, despite these obvious examples, some are working to have them removed.

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A single-pilot operation would have to complete all routine and unforeseen jobs without assistance, much as a driver in a snowstorm doing everything at once while driving: He or she may also be texting, using a GPS, checking the speedometer, and fuel gauge, and engine temperature, as well as taking a math test and speaking with their supervisor.

The Science, Space, and Technology Committee’s insertion of this risky clause into the House FAA reauthorization measure without discussion or debate has prompted ALPA to act promptly to defend aviation safety.

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The International Federation of Air Line Pilots’ Associations told ICAO in a report for its assembly last month. Diverse pilot associations around the world are opposed to aircraft having a single crew.

How is technology evolving to make a single pilot a reality?

Flying is all about gliding an airplane with the aid of an engine, but with autopilot, all tasks are performed by machines rather than pilots, and pilotless operations are entirely dependent on sensors that calibrate environmental conditions and give flight commands.

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further, According to NASA, a skilled pilot on the ground could manage several missions at once. If the pilot became incapacitated, he might even be able to assume full control of the plane. Additionally, this pilot might focus on a certain airport. These possibilities have been tested on specialized ground-based simulators.

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Although the idea has not yet been demonstrated, an uncontrolled aircraft may be flown by the ground pilot with the use of satellite networking during an emergency while the ATC provides help.

By delegating additional jobs to computers, the first step would be to dramatically expand automation in the cockpit. Some tasks will need to be transferred simultaneously from the cockpit to the ground support crew. Unmanned aerial aircraft are already equipped with a variety of ground control methods (UAV). It is obvious that switching to a single-crew airliner will result in significant operating cost savings, but it is also necessary to maintain safety standards that are comparable to those of traditional two-pilot commercial operations.

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Airbus demonstrated this in June 2020. Airbus has successfully completed its Autonomous Taxi, Take-Off and Landing (ATTOL) project after a lengthy two-year flight test program.

Through fully automatic vision-based flight testing employing onboard image recognition technology, Airbus has successfully completed this project and achieved autonomous taxiing, take-off, and landing of a commercial aircraft a first in aviation. Over 500 test flights were completed in all. About 450 of the flights were used to collect unprocessed video data in order to assist and improve algorithms. Airbus link 

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The single pilot concept will first be implemented in the cargo flight. Additionally, it will be added to business aircraft, and later on, It will be implemented gradually in larger jets.

Comment here and let us know what you think of the one crew-operating aircraft.

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He is an aviation journalist and the founder of Jetline Marvel. Dawal gained a comprehensive understanding of the commercial aviation industry.  He has worked in a range of roles for more than 9 years in the aviation and aerospace industry. He has written more than 1700 articles in the aerospace industry. When he was 19 years old, he received a national award for his general innovations and holds the patent. He completed two postgraduate degrees simultaneously, one in Aerospace and the other in Management. Additionally, he authored nearly six textbooks on aviation and aerospace tailored for students in various educational institutions. jetlinem4(at)gmail.com

Aerospace

Take First Glimpse of USAF B-21 Raider, Latest Nuclear Stealth Bomber

Take First Glimpse of USAF B-21 Raider, Latest Nuclear Stealth Bomber
Image:USAF

The United States Air Force (USAF) has unveiled the first photographs of the Northrop Grumman B-21 Raider bomber in flight.

These images were captured during test flights conducted by the B-21 Combined Test Force at Edwards Air Force Base, marking a significant milestone in the development of this sixth-generation aircraft.

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Currently undergoing flight tests in California, the B-21 Raider represents the next generation of stealth bombers. With an estimated cost of around $700 million per aircraft, the B-21 Raider is poised to become a crucial component of the USAF’s arsenal for conventional Long Range Strike missions.

According to Air Force briefings, the B-21 Raider will form part of a comprehensive family of systems, encompassing Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance capabilities, electronic warfare, communication systems, and more. Notably, the bomber will be nuclear-capable and adaptable for both manned and unmanned operations.

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It boasts the flexibility to deploy a wide array of stand-off and direct-attack munitions, ensuring versatility in various combat scenarios. One of the B-21’s distinguishing features is its extensive integration of digital technology, as highlighted in discussions held during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing.

Designed with an open systems architecture, the B-21 Raider is built to swiftly incorporate emerging technologies, ensuring its effectiveness against evolving threats over time. The B-21 Raider is slated to replace the aging B-1 Lancer and B-2 Spirit bombers, bolstering US national security objectives and providing reassurance to allies and partners worldwide.

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Aerospace

Aurora Flight Sciences Unveils Innovative X-Plane Design

Aurora Flight Sciences Unveils Innovative X-Plane Design

Aurora Flight Sciences, a Boeing company, has recently completed the conceptual design review for a groundbreaking high-speed, vertical lift X-plane.

This aircraft, part of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) program called Speed and Runway Independent Technologies (SPRINT), aims to demonstrate key technologies and integrated concepts that combine high speed with runway independence.

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Aurora’s design features a low-drag, fan-in-wing demonstrator integrated into a blended wing body platform. This innovative approach merges the agility of vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) with exceptional speed capabilities.

The team is focused on ensuring the program’s success by setting the stage for successful flight demonstrations, showcasing a transformative capability for air mobility and Special Operations Forces (SOF) missions.

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New renderings of the fan-in-wing (FIW) demonstrator show three lift fans, a more refined composite exterior, and an uncrewed cockpit. The decision to use three lift fans simplifies the demonstrator, streamlining its path to flight testing. This FIW technology can be scaled to incorporate four or more lift fans to meet future aircraft requirements, potentially leading to a new family of systems.

Additionally, while the current demonstrator is uncrewed to facilitate testing and reduce risk, the FIW technology is fully adaptable to crewed aircraft. Aurora’s concept is designed to meet or exceed DARPA’s challenging program objectives. The blended wing body platform is capable of a 450-knot cruise speed, and the embedded lift fans with integrated covers enable a smooth transition from vertical to horizontal flight.

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The design also utilizes existing engine solutions, reducing development risks and timelines. Besides VTOL, the aircraft can perform short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL), super short take-off and landing (SSTOL), and conventional take-off and landing.

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Aerospace

China Developing Comac C939 Wide Body Aircraft to Compete with A350 and B777

China Developing Comac C939 Wide Body Aircraft to Compete with A350 and B777


China’s Comac aircraft company is currently underway with the development of its own wide-body aircraft, the C939, positioned to compete with industry stalwarts like the Boeing 787 and Airbus A350 in the future. This strategic move by Comac involves crafting the next iteration with enhanced capacity and extended range capabilities, marking a significant leap forward in technological advancement compared to the current C919 aircraft.

Air China has inked a substantial deal worth a staggering $10.8 billion, based on list prices, to acquire 100 Comac C919 jets, signaling a strong vote of confidence in the domestic challenger to aerospace giants Airbus and Boeing.

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China Comac C919 Total Order

With both China Southern and Air China combining orders for nearly 200 aircraft, the prospects for the new C919 aircraft appear increasingly promising for future fleet growth. To date, Comac has garnered orders for nearly 1,100 aircraft.

China is contemplating the development of another wide-body aircraft, the C939, poised to significantly bolster the aerospace industry in China.

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COMAC has initiated work on the C939, a new wide-body airliner. While design concepts have been formulated, it will still take several years before a prototype materializes, according to reports from the South China Morning Post, citing anonymous sources.

Initially intended to be a joint venture with Russia, plans were halted due to Russia’s decision to safeguard its copyrights and technological advancements within its borders. Consequently, collaboration between China and Russia on aircraft development was discontinued. Sources suggest that China is vigorously pursuing new avenues for the independent development of its own wide-body aircraft, crucial for accommodating larger passenger capacities and extended flight ranges.

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Comac C939 competes with Boeing 777 and A350

Information regarding the program remains limited. COMAC has refrained from commenting on the development of the new aircraft type, stating that official announcements will be made in due course. Nevertheless, the C939 could potentially accommodate up to 390 passengers, positioning it to compete with the largest Boeing 777 and Airbus A350 aircraft.

In addition to the prospective C939, COMAC is already advancing with the development of another widebody aircraft, known as the C929. This aircraft is poised to rival the Boeing 787 and Airbus A330, boasting 280 seats and a range approaching 6,500 nautical miles.

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Since obtaining certification in late 2022, the COMAC C919 has been operational, accumulating nearly 1,000 firm orders, predominantly from Chinese-owned airlines and leasing companies.

With multiple widebody aircraft in the pipeline, COMAC stands to achieve parity with the two leading international aircraft manufacturers. Boeing, with its 777 and 787 models, and Airbus, with the A330neo and A350, both have a comparable range of offerings. However, Boeing’s aircraft are encountering delays and production challenges despite substantial orders, while the A350 is performing commendably, though the A330neo’s order intake has not met initial projections.

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How much does C919 cost?

China is under pressure to fulfill the current orders for the C919 aircraft, prompting plans to expand production facilities across various regions within the country. The aim is to ramp up production capacity for C919 planes to 150 aircraft annually over the next five years. The latest reports indicate that the C919 is priced around $99 million, comparable to the price of Boeing 737 Max and Airbus A320 aircraft, with expectations for further price reductions in the future.

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While the C919 has yet to be certified in major aviation markets outside of China, only four have been delivered thus far. In the long term, COMAC’s widebody aircraft will vie for global competitiveness. One potential benefit of COMAC aircraft could be in reducing China’s reliance on Western aircraft manufacturers. However, this shift won’t happen immediately; the current delivery rate of four aircraft in nearly 18 months is not sustainable, and both Airbus and Boeing have established manufacturing facilities in China to cater to its sizable market.

Nevertheless, assuming COMAC addresses the issues impeding deliveries, there’s a plausible scenario where the manufacturer assumes a significant role, particularly as China’s aviation market continues to expand.

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As the C939 progresses through its development stages, more details are expected to emerge. Comparisons between official specifications of the C929 and C939 will be noteworthy, as will the initial orders for each aircraft type. However, it’s anticipated that neither will undergo test flights or enter into service for several years.

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