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pilots fear that more automated planes will do without co-pilots, pub-9809009992858082, DIRECT, f08c47fec0942fa0

Airbus says it wantsincrease flight safety and airline operational efficiency“. Adobe Stock

Aircraft manufacturers are planning to further automate planes with artificial intelligence, which could replace one of the two pilots on board.

The National Union of Airline Pilots (SNPL) expressed concern on Tuesday about plans by aircraft manufacturers to further automate planes with artificial intelligence, which could eventually replace one of the two pilots on board.

The president of the SNPL, which federates three quarters of French pilots, vilified during a press conference call “a kind of crazy dream of engineers who dream of creating the perfect computer that could replace a human pilot“. “We are issuing an alert on this project!“, added Karine Gély. “We are convinced that the computer or any artificial intelligence whatsoever is totally incapable of dealing with the unpredictable or the highly improbable.“, continued Karine Gély. Two in the cockpit, “we are able to develop action plans, flight strategies. And we also know that we are much stronger and much more efficient in a two-man crew than if we were alone at the controls.“, she said.

In addition to the problems of fatigue if there was only one pilot left in the plane, the SNPL recalls the importance of “cross check“, cross-checking, two-way: “One pilot checks what the other is doing, checks what the plane is doing, etc.» «Humans are fallible, humans make mistakes. It’s true, it’s absolutely true, we all do it. But (…) automatisms are also fallible, however sophisticated they may be“, noted Fanny Aronssohn, spokesperson for the SNPL. “We are completely satisfied with the technology and automation, which makes our daily life easier and increases safety. But automation and on-board technology are only complementary to humans. We need to be together, (…) it cannot replace the human“, she added.

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Airbus pointed the finger

The aircraft manufacturer Airbusparticularly implicated by the SNPL, declared that “We believe that pilots will remain at the heart of operations in the future and that automation can help them by reducing their cockpit workload, improving in-flight operations and overall aircraft performance.“. The group says it wants above allincrease flight safety and airline operational efficiency», in collaboration with the certification authorities and the said companies.

Studies, whichaim to improve the management of crew fatigue on long-haul flights and to allow them to better organize their presence in the cockpit during cruise phases thanks to additional automated functions“, assume that there are at least two pilots on board, said a spokesperson for the aircraft manufacturer. As for research into single-pilot operations without compromising safety, there are several projects but not all of them will necessarily materialize, according to Airbus.

For his part, the director general of the International Air Transport Association (Iata), federating a large majority of the world’s airlines, said he was skeptical about the possibility of seeing such devices appear in the medium term. “Personally, I don’t seethat happen, Willie Walsh said at a press conference on the sidelines of the Iata congress in Istanbul. “The reason I say that is that the devices in service today that are being delivered will remain in service for 20 or 25 years.», and will not be equipped to operate with a single pilot. “Honestly, I don’t see this happening in my lifetime“, added Willie Walsh, who is 61 years old.

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