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Self-Flying Airplanes Would Save Airlines $35 Billion If Not for One Small Problem…

Self-Flying Airplanes Would Save Airlines $35 Billion If Not for One Small Problem…
Joe Cortez

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.

View Comments (4)

4 Comments

  1. downinit

    August 11, 2017 at 7:26 am

    Yet another reminder that if companies stop employing people, they can shovel more money into the offshore accounts of the shareholders. The only question that remains is who is going to be able to pay for all of these goods and services when they are no longer employable? Those who are reaping all these huge profit margins do not want to pay taxes, so I am seriously doubt they will partake in the push for a living wage.

    I am pretty sure that as AI advances, we will not need 5 billion computer programmers to keep these systems humming. I may be a luddite, but I have yet to come across many fields that will be able to absorb a rapidly increasing obsolete workforce.

  2. AlwaysFlyStar

    August 11, 2017 at 11:34 am

    And how many people have said, ‘I am never flying with *Insert airline name here* again!’ or something similar?

  3. Occupationalhazard

    August 11, 2017 at 2:59 pm

    >they can shovel more money into the offshore accounts of the shareholders.

    At this point, I think it’s the C-Suite that gets most of the filthy lucre.

    >I am pretty sure that as AI advances, we will not need 5 billion computer programmers to keep these systems humming.

    In the future, there will be server farms, surrounded by fences, each guarded by a man and a dog. The man will be there to feed the dog, and the dog will be there to keep the man from shutting down the machines.

    >I may be a luddite

    It’s a legitimate concern. We are in the midst of a “4th Pivot”, from Computers & IT to Robots (the previous ones having been Agrarian => Mechanical => Industrial => Computers & IT). Each pivot brings disruption, and ultimately results in economic growth. The difficulty is, that occurs in the aggregate. All individuals within populations are not identical, thus older workers are more at risk: if a 25 year old blows all his savings, he had ~40 years of working life to recover; if a 55 year old blows all his savings, he had 10 years to recover. It’s a problem, and as we enter the pivot, we have a large population that hasn’t adequately prepared for retirement (aka the Boom), and which has rather grandiose ideas as to what it is “entitled” to.

  4. downinit

    August 11, 2017 at 10:25 pm

    “if a 25 year old blows all his savings, he had ~40 years of working life to recover; if a 55 year old blows all his savings, he had 10 years to recover. It’s a problem, and as we enter the pivot, we have a large population that hasn’t adequately prepared for retirement (aka the Boom), and which has rather grandiose ideas as to what it is “entitled” to.”

    That is certainly part of the problem. If someone did their homework and did everything that they were supposed to do at the age of 25 in order to have a secure future, it will likely be thrown out the window in 20-30 years time as their once secure position becomes obsolete and their once desirable retirement plan becomes insolvent. And there are not many opportunities for a 45-65 year old to reinvent themselves, especially if their body is breaking down (not to mention the endemic agism that would prevent many employers from even considering them as anything but a liability).

    Even for those starting out now, what area is future-proof? We are already seeing doctors, lawyers, and even programmers be replaced by outsourcing and AI. Concepts such as lifetime learning and adaptation are easy gospel to preach, but how realistic is it to keep reinventing yourself every decade? Some may be able to excel in that environment, but the vast majority will continue to stumble and fall behind, or just burn out. Billions of people are employed in the low-skill categories that are the easiest to automate. These people will never be breaking any ground with anything but a shovel or a pickaxe, but they still need food and shelter.

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