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taneb

Future of Aviation

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So, a pretty simple topic. I just want some input on something I keep thinking about. If I'm a teenager right now, and I want to be an airline pilot, what kinds of aircraft would still be flying 10-20 years from now? What aircraft would be phased out by then? Anything from regional jets to the heavies. What are your thoughts?


Tanin Shipman

 

I may be young, but one of these days I'll be flying you around...

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I'd say 737 and A320 would still definitely be in service (albeit updated). The sheer number of them out there would suggest its economical for companies to seek upgrades to fleets rather than wholesale replacements. To be honest, I don't think 10-20 years is that long in aviation terms. Just my thoughts.

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Most of the changes are likely to be evolutionary, not revolutionary in the airline segment. New engines will give older airframes new life, revised wing structures and controls will likely give new builds a small aerodynamic and efficiency advantage, but aircraft remain in commercial service as long as they:

1: Can make money

2: Meet legal requirements for noise and emissions

3: Spares and maintenance backup is provided.

 

As an airline pilot at the bottom end you will need to be able to fly the older stuff. After that it's only differences training.

 

Suspect most of the big changes will happen in the GA and Corporate sectors.

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20 years from now, the current 'new' planes like the 737max, A320neo, 787, A350, A380 will be reaching the end of their useful lives. Their replacements may very well be uav's with only a single on board pilot. In the cargo sector, they may already be well into an unmanned fleet. The smallest airliners you can find will likely be 70-90 seat regional aircraft. 30 years from now, the professional pilot will probably be a dinosaur.

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Well, the 737 max isn't due to release until 2017, in which southwest has ordered a ton of them, so that should be around for a while. And the a320 neo probably the same story.


Tanin Shipman

 

I may be young, but one of these days I'll be flying you around...

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My prediction is that 30 years from today we will still have professional pilots. I think a good indication of what we might expect within this time frame is to look at current NASA research in this field - they are working on something which is called SPO - Single Pilot Operations, more info here:

 

http://aviationweek.com/technology/nasa-advances-single-pilot-operations-concepts


Michael J.

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Hmmm... Interesting input. How will it work for the airline industry though? How many people will drive instead of fly when they find out that there's no one flying the plane? Everyone would be too scared. But what's wrong with planes the way they are now? Do they really need to make it automated, or is it just for other benefits instead?


Tanin Shipman

 

I may be young, but one of these days I'll be flying you around...

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Just a few months ago, everybody was scared of the pilot comitting suicide with everybody aboard. People will accept not having pilots, just as they already accept trains without engineers, and the driverless cars already in development. There is nothing wrong with planes now, it's just that there will be planes that are going to be cheaper to operate because they have one less pilot. Just as planes got more sophisticated and more economical by getting rid of the navigator, then getting rid of the engineer, and next, the copilot.

 

At your age, you should still be able to get a career in, but you will likely be part of the drawdown of pilots towards your later years, as they introduce the single pilot plane, and then the fully autonomous plane after that.

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Well, you think the 717 will be around for a little while longer? I thought the md80 was being phased out by many airlines but the 717 is probably the closest and newest of the DC9 family.


Tanin Shipman

 

I may be young, but one of these days I'll be flying you around...

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Yes the 717 will be around a while longer. Delta just bought up the Airtran fleet to replace RJ flying with it.

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Millions will be flying in personally-owned pre-programmed universal airborne transportation devices capable of carrying up to 6 souls. they will be totally green, needing only ground and in-flight solar recharge. The cost in terms of battery recharge for a trip from Kansas City to Los Angeles will revert to the $9.20 American currency that was the prevailing fare in the late 1940's on a TWA Super Connie. All souls on board will be able to relax or sleep as the transportation will be totally automated. Will require no operators license or specially trained personnel. Enroute travel times will be consistent with current B737/A320 standards, with disclaimer that an additional 10% factor may be likely to compensate for collision avoidance adjustments.

 

05%20Connie_ticket_web-L.jpg


Frank Patton
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These are all really good points! I appreciate the great info. To be honest, because of all the different (and similar) opinions, I guess time will tell. At least there's still quite a few years it seems before they go to a fully automated cockpit.


Tanin Shipman

 

I may be young, but one of these days I'll be flying you around...

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These are all really good points! I appreciate the great info. To be honest, because of all the different (and similar) opinions, I guess time will tell. At least there's still quite a few years it seems before they go to a fully automated cockpit.

 

It's already fully automated in many cases - it's just that they deliberately build-in pilot and co-pilot interaction. Any big Airbus can fly completely autonomously from just after take off to just after touchdown. The crew merely turn lights on and off, monitor the radios and change frequencies. Modern Boeings, likewise

 

The reason they are still there is for when the automation goes wrong - and the planemakers want to give them something to do. Airliners won't be unpiloted until ATC is unmanned because the human element is still vital for oversight. Perhaps more so, if the ever-growing airprox menace of UAV's isn't addressed.

 

I was once on an Air Malta jumpseat in a 737-400 and the only thing the pilots did after switching on the a/p was change Air Traffic Control frequencies until well into the descent into Malta. We spent three and half hours of a three and three quarter hour flight across some of the busiest airspace on Earth drinking coffee and talking gliding. :Cuppa:

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That is a great point. But a least planes these says can still be hand flown, and I'm glad that they have vor and even adf receivers in jet planes as a back up even though they rely on gps. Even though it's our future, and it may be productive as well as cost saving, it's a shame that they would even want to remove pilots, it seems like a great job to have.

I doubt any aviation enthusiast really likes it though. Piloting a plane (virtually or reality) is basically the whole reason avsim was created. I guess it just is what it is.


Tanin Shipman

 

I may be young, but one of these days I'll be flying you around...

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That is a great point. But a least planes these says can still be hand flown, and I'm glad that they have vor and even adf receivers in jet planes as a back up even though they rely on gps. Even though it's our future, and it may be productive as well as cost saving, it's a shame that they would even want to remove pilots, it seems like a great job to have.

I doubt any aviation enthusiast really likes it though. Piloting a plane (virtually or reality) is basically the whole reason avsim was created. I guess it just is what it is.

It all comes down to money.  If it's cheaper, it will happen.  Pretty much everything on this planet(or at least in the good old USA) is driven by money.  So, even though pilot is a great job, it will go away, at least in commercial airlines because it will save them money and that's really all that matters.  Safety (hopefully) is next but money trumps all.


Regards,

 

Kevin LaMal

"Facts Don't Care About Your Feelings" - Shapiro2024

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