The end of the two pilots in the cockpit?

Airbus and Boeing work on the pilotless cockpit. First, however, could come an intermediate step – airplanes with only one pilot.

They already exist, planes without pilots. For example, BAE Systems, the British defense and aviation group, has been officially testing pilotless flying with a Jetstream 31 for some time now. Both Airbus and Boeing are researching a future without people in the cockpit. They are determined to make the previously unthinkable possible.

The fact that this is not a distant future, said recently Boeings development chief Mike Sinnet. ”I imagine it will happen in less than five years. It will probably take longer for commercial operation », says the researcher. The aircraft manufacturers have not only the reduction of personnel costs in mind but also the security. ”90 percent of accidents in flight accidents were due to human error,” said Airbus CEO Tom Enders once. He is convinced that flying without a pilot will become the standard in the future.

Still, there is a problem. Even if the technology is making rapid progress – the thought of the passengers is poor at the front, no one sits at the front. That’s why there could be an intermediate stage first. Various companies work on concepts of a cockpit with only one pilot. ”We’ll take a look. We will probably see this first in freight transport. The passenger question does not arise there, ”quotes The Guardian Boeing manager Charles Toups.

The maintenance group ST Aerospace showed according to the sheet on the Singapore Air Show a concept for conversion of the cockpit to the single-pilot operation in the context of the conversion of passenger into cargo jets. There is a global interest, says chief operations officer Jeffrey Lam. ”I think the freight companies are watching each other, what the other one is doing. If one does it, others will follow. Because it’s about big cost savings.

There has already been a staff reduction in the cockpit. In the past, a third man was sitting in front. The flight engineer or flight engineer – also known as the third officer – was responsible for monitoring the aircraft systems. They were replaced by the beginning of the eighties by the increasing computerization. Before that, there were some so-called navigators, who took care of the orientation over the sea.