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Pilotless planes are coming, how will the airline industry respond?

by AirTalk®

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A pilotless MiG-35 aircraft flies under a propeller plane while taking part in the International Aviation and Space Salon "MAKS-2007" at Zhukovsky airfield, outside Moscow. VIKTOR KOROTAYEV/AFP/Getty Images

A new report from Swiss Bank UBS found the aviation industry would potentially save $35 billion per year by switching to pilotless planes.

As reported by CNN, remote-controlled planes could be available by 2025 and after 2030, business jets, helicopters and eventually, commercial planes would be autonomous. But according to the survey, only 17 percent of people would agree to be a passenger on a pilotless plane, even with cheaper tickets. That number may change as technology advances. After all, driverless cars are no longer a futuristic fantasy.

However, the industry may be in for a hit from pilots unions if tech takes over the cockpit. Pilots already spend only minutes manually flying an aircraft, with the rest of the time spent monitoring the flight. Safety concerns for passengers will inevitably be a big part of how this develop. And how would this all work? Drones and the military are already using pilotless technology, so what’s the next step for civilians?


Captain Ross Aimer, CEO of Aero Consulting and a former United Airlines Pilot

Alan Levin, reporter covering aviation in Washington D.C. for Bloomberg News; he covers air traffic and aviation policy;he tweets @AlanLevin1

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