It does not receive public funding Editor in chief: CLARA MOSCHINI
Commercial airplanes without pilots, the reluctance of passengers and the savings for the airlines
Rome, Italy - A recent analysis highlights the economic benefits for the industry and the fact that the current aversion of customers could change in the future
Pilotless airplanes "could bring material benefits": to say that is a study that was published on Monday by the Swiss bank UBS which estimated a global saving for the carriers of about 35 billion dollars per year, allowing some airlines to double their profits. The economic advantage would be generated by the savings in pilots' salaries and training, by a reduction of insurance costs, by a reduced use of fuel and by the possibility to increasing aircraft operation.
The analysis also highlights how the bigger profit for the air carriers could be invested in airplane equipment, bringing benefits to manufacturers of technologies for avionics and communications. Furthermore it is underlined how a wider automation could be good even for air traffic control, reducing the waiting time and increasing the number of transits and profitability of airports. The savings anyway would not be the same for all companies and major benefits would be in those regions as Asia in which air transport is growing fast, and in which the use of automation could compensate for a possible unsufficient number of pilots.
If from the technical point of view unmanned aircraft vehicles for the transport of passengers could appear already by 2025, the change of the sector will be slowed down by different reasons, among which regulations that guarantee safety, the oppositions of pilots' unions and passengers' perception. In a sample of 8000 people only 17% would be likely to take a pilotless aircraft. The percentage grows to 30% for the interviewed with an age between 18 and 30 years, a signal that things may change in the future. 54% of the sample would not want to travel without a human pilot on board, and the percentage does not significantly change even if lower tariffs are offered. For these two reasons the research underlines how the first market segment in which flight could be fully automated is the cargo one.
AVIONEWS - World Aeronautical Press Agency - 1206371