Boeing Studies Planes Without Pilots, Plans Experiments Next Year

“Boeing has begun researching the possibility of commercial-passenger jets that will fly without pilots, using artificial intelligence guiding automated controls to make decisions in flight,” reports Seattle Times. The company is planning experimental flights, without passengers, for next year. From the report: “The basic building blocks of the technology are clearly available,” said Mike Sinnett, former chief systems engineer on the 787 Dreamliner and now vice president at Boeing responsible for innovative future technologies, at a briefing before the Paris Air Show. “There’s going to be a transition from the requirement to have a skilled aviator operate the airplane to having a system that operates the vehicle autonomously, if we can do that with the same level of safety,” Sinnett said. Sinnett said Boeing’s research is driven by the pilot shortage worldwide that is only going to become more acute. In the next two decades, Boeing forecasts a demand for about 40,000 new commercial jets, roughly doubling the world fleet.


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