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Airbus opens ‘brave new frontier’ of single-pilot planes

| 2021-09-16 < 1 min read

Airbus opens ‘brave new frontier’ of single-pilot planes

Reading Time: < 1 minute

The world’s largest aircraft manufacturer Airbus is seeking EU approval for using one-pilot technology on its A350 jets, opening up a whole new debate on flight safety.

EU regulations currently require two pilots to be present in commercial flight cockpits at all times. However Airbus argues that its new autonomous technology would make flying safer and more fuel-efficient.

Airbus is proposing two possible scenarios in its discussions with the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), The first would allow co-pilots to rest on long-haul services, while the second would see just one pilot on-board for shorter flights. Any approval is subject to demonstrating that the automated aircraft would offer equivalent or higher levels of safety than the current two-pilot system, the EASA told EURACTIV.

Cathay Pacific is working with Airbus on the plan, entitled Project Connect, with the aim of introducing the flights in 2025, a source told Reuters. However Lufthansa executives have been advised that the programme will not meet safety regulations, Reuters added.

Pilot organisations have also expressed doubts regarding the technology. “For the time being, neither the regulators nor the manufacturers have shown this could improve flight safety,” European Cockpit Association president Otjan de Bruijn told EURACTIV.