The pilot will be off the flight deck in a short while. “The last fighter pilot has been born, the last fighter built.” These are some of statements written or repeated by Scott Spangler of Jetwhine, someone I don’t know but suspect has his tongue firmly rammed into the corner of his cheek. See the post on Jetwhine for the authors and more on the proposition. That must be close to his real objective, stirring up controversy that is.
Anyone who spends their working day up there can plot across time the development of the high tech flight deck and the out of step march of technology on the ground that manages the sky. The pace of advancement on the side of automation is driven by the military through UAV programs but anyone with a ounce of analytical inclination can see that progress and public attitudes just will not cross for many, many years to come.
One inhibitor is ever increasing traffic densities robbing the system of flex and airspace, another sovereignty based issues. Another still and by far the major hurdle is the huge investment that would be required in ground support infrastructure. We can’t yet fund and set up something as simple as a satellite based ATC communications system to manage the Atlantic or Africa, what makes us think we will be able to put in place the agreements and kit required to intermix and manage automated airliners internationally? It may happen, but not for a very long time yet – I would stake my job and even my rocking chair on it!
Nice try Scott but get real, pulling our chain is one thing, a serious proposal is quite another.
Now military aviation, that’s more than subtly different.