Are Pilotless Planes on the Horizon?

While Google, Apple, Honda and several other big-name companies are working to develop driverless cars, there’s already talk about pilotless airplanes. Boeing has predicted a sharp increase in demand for pilots over the next two decades. As more and more people look to the skies to travel, the demand for pilots will increase as well.

In an effort to cope with this increased demand, however, some airplanes could use autonomous systems to effectively eliminate the need for manual piloting — and this may happen sooner rather than later. The general idea is to use automated computers and systems to perform the same actions as a human pilot. According to a new report by UBS, pilotless planes could be soaring in the skies as early as 2025. The report published by UBS explores the technology trends in aviation that could one day reshape the way in which we travel.

The report also suggests that pilotless planes could save the aviation industry more than $30 billion while subsequently making flights cheaper and potentially even safer for passengers. With a pilotless plane, there would be less room for human error, with automated computers performing all of the necessary controls. And without the need for an actual human pilot, it would cut the operating costs for commercial airlines, which would hopefully pass these savings down to their customers.

But not everyone is thrilled with the idea of pilotless planes. According to a survey of 8,000 people in the report, more than half said they would not fly on a pilotless plane, even if they were offered a cheaper fare. Demographically speaking, however, individuals between the ages of 18 and 24 had the most positive views towards pilotless planes, with approximately 27% saying they were comfortable flying on a pilotless plane.

This may bode well for the future development of such technology, as the 18–34 age group grows older and maintains such an attitude towards flying on pilotless planes,” explained UBS in its report.

Of course, it will probably be a while before we see pilotless planes flying in the skies. And once it does happen, it will likely occur over a period of several years rather than all at once. In the meantime, you can rest assured knowing that you’re plane is being piloted by a certified, licensed pilot.

Would you feel comfortable flying on a pilotless plane?