Saturday, August 04, 2018

Airline pilots protest a study on allowing cargo planes to be operated by only one pilot with remote help

Unions representing nearly 50 commercial airlines have launched a protest against federal legislation to study the idea of putting cargo planes in the hands of only one pilot with the help of remote-control pilots on the ground.

But this dispute includes a big mystery: Officials of pilots unions don’t know who put the language in the Federal Aviation Administration funding bill to study the idea of one pilot per cargo plane or for what reason. The FAA bill sets aside $128.5 million to research the concept, along with other topics of research.

The pilots unions, representing more than 100,000 pilots, say they are opposed to the idea of eliminating a co-pilot from a commercial cargo plane because the task of flying a jet, communicating with air traffic controllers and monitoring weather changes requires two trained pilots.

The unions also say remote-control flying is vulnerable to glitches and computer hackers.

“Anything less than two pilots physically in the cockpit will significantly increase risk, especially during emergency operations, when timely actions are coordinated and implemented by each crewmember based on real-time information,” said Robert Travis, president of the Independent Pilots Assn., the collective bargaining unit for UPS.

The FAA funding package for 2017-2018, adopted by Congress in April, includes a line that says, “The FAA, in consultation with NASA and other relevant agencies, shall establish a research and development program in support of single-piloted cargo aircraft assisted with remote piloting and computer piloting.”

The legislation does not explain the motivation for the study.

Kara Deniz, a spokeswoman for the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, which represents pilots that fly for Aloha Air Cargo and Southern Air Cargo, among other carriers, said the union doesn’t know who put the language in the FAA bill but suspects that the study is the first step in a move to propose requiring only one pilot on commercial passenger airlines.

“It’s possible that this is the way to get the camel’s nose under the tent,” she said.

Representatives for FedEx Corp. and Atlas Air, two of the nation’s biggest cargo airlines, declined to comment on the matter.

Original article can be found here ➤


  1. Who said they want to eliminate the Copilot...?
    I reckon they will eliminiate the Captain instead... ;-)

  2. Everyone missed "...with the help of a remote copilot".

    Are we all expecting unions to support anything that eliminates future union dues? Come on, folks. See through the hype. Single pilot ops are coming and there is no way to stop it. Technology moving too quickly.

  3. We are frogs in a slowly warming pot of water that will eventually boil... as we do nothing to save ourselves from the evil Zuckerberg types controlling the stove. This "study" is not about reducing the flight deck to a single pilot, the goal is to remove all pilots, except for maybe some H1B, $10/hour dude "safety-monitoring" 10 or 12 automated flights at a time from a trailer in South Dakota.

    Welcome to Skynet, and don't forget to thank our tech God overlords for making our world a safer, better place, as they sleep upon bales of money, and as we pilots are reduced to driving Ubers... until the Ubers are automated too, of course...

  4. Agreed ... This is not about removing one pilot it is the start of the process of removing both pilots. On the bright side there this would result in a slight reduction if fares.