Hold on to your seats – this latest invention is propelling the aerospace industry into the future. Replacing human pilots with computer-operated passenger flights is not a new idea, but the day this concept becomes a reality may come sooner than you think.
This is according to John Langford, CEO of Aurora Flight Sciences Corp., a developer and manufacturer of unmanned systems and aerospace vehicles.
The company’s most ambitious project, an unmanned 4,100-pound twin-propeller remote-controlled airplane called the Centaur, took off from an FAA test facility in New York earlier this June and landed safely and successfully. It was the first large-scale fixed wing unmanned aircraft to accomplish this feat.
The public has expressed their speculation and concern about the meaning and implications of the technology, especially by potential future passengers distrust the technology and prefer a live, human pilot on board the aircraft. Nonetheless, the technology is getting a lot of attention, including by the military, the company reported:
“This aircraft is coming into high demand from a range of customers, both military and commercial interests, in the U.S. and abroad. Centaur’s small footprint, based on the Diamond DA42 [airplane], provides an unmatched solution for clandestine operations and low profile ISR [intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance] missions.”
As with drones, FAA regulations are keeping pilotless planes out of commercial airspace while they formulate policies regarding use of the technology. In the meantime, Aurora will continue to improve the safety of the pilotless planes.
“I’m a huge believer that the unmanned airplane revolution will make aviation safer for everybody,” said Langford. “That isn’t to say there won’t be accidents, but the overall level of safety will go up as the robotic stuff is introduced.”