UBS projects autonomous aircraft could save airlines $35 billion annually.
If projections hold true, autonomous aircraft could be flying in the next 12 years, saving airlines $35 billion and lowering the price of air travel. CNN reports analysis by Swiss bank UBS predicts automation will leave the ground and ultimately take to the skies as soon as 2025.
According to their report, UBS analysts note that today’s technologies allow for autonomous flight with the assistance of pilots. As advances continue, the first commercial-sized self-flying aircraft could be ready in as soon as eight years.
“The technologies in development today will enable the aircraft to assist and back up the pilot in all the flight phases,” the report reads, according to CNN. “Removing the pilot from manual control and systems operations in all types of situations.”
If autonomy does come to the cockpit, UBS predicts the first trials will be installed aboard cargo aircraft before those bearing passengers. If the technology is reliable and proves safe, the aviation industry could save $35 billion every year on the costs of employing and training pilots.
Although the technology could soon become available, self-flying aircraft may not prove popular with flyers. Of those surveyed by UBS, more than half said they would not fly aboard a pilotless airplane, while less than one in five said they would take a chance on a commercial aircraft.
The UBS report complements pilotless aircraft research currently being done by Boeing. In June 2017, the aerospace manufacturer announced they were ready to begin testing aircraft that fly themselves, after the Federal Aviation Administration successfully tested similar technology in 2015.