The next major innovation in flying may very well be a fleet of pilotless passenger aircrafts, which would be remote controlled by pilots in a control room hundreds of miles away.
Tests on a new breed of pilotless passenger aircrafts that would use the same technology as military drones will begin next month in the United Kingdom.
The idea behind the project is to significantly decrease the costs of air travel, and giving pilots the opportunity to control the planes without the rigorous travel schedules.
A twin-engined Jetstream commuter jet will take off from Warton Aerodrome, Lancashire and head north entirely under remote control towards Scotland within a few weeks, The Economist reports.
The Autonomous Systems Technology Related Airborne Evaluation and Assessment (ASTRAEA) is the group conducting the testing, an $80 million program backed by the British government and seven airspace companies, including BAE, QinetiQ, and Rolls Royce.
It will also test failsafe systems that will allow the aircraft’s computers to take autonomous control of the flight should contact with the ground be broken.
The market for the technology is potentially huge and lucrative, as the U.S. Congress has asked aviation regulators to make pilotless passenger aircrafts work within the existing air-traffic control system as early as 2015.
Small drones are already used commercially for things like aerial photography, but in most jurisdictions they must remain within sight of their pilot on the ground.
The question now is, would you feel safe aboard an airplane that did not have a pilot on board?
James Gilbert | Elite.