Boeing has revealed plans to develop planes that fly with no pilots, and intends to test the new technology next year in order to address the pilot shortage expected in the next few years
“The basic building blocks of the technology clearly are available,” Mike Sinnett, Boeing’s vice president of product development, said at a briefing ahead of the Paris Airshow which takes place later this month.
Sinnett said the company would begin to test the technology in a cockpit simulator over the summer before flying an airplane with “some artificial intelligence that makes decisions that pilots would make,” next year.
The technology to carry out pilotless flights is just the first step, though. Self-flying planes would have to pass safety standards, and regulators would need to figure out a way to certify the planes.
Sinnett concedes he has “no idea how we’re going to do that,” but said “we’re studying it right now and we’re developing those algorithms.”
The planes would also need to be able to land safely, of course, and be as reliable as humans. “The machine has to be capable of making the same set of decisions, and if it can’t, we can’t go there,” Sinnett said.