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Airline operators to push for lone pilot flights despite safety concerns

WASHINGTON — Airline operators and civil aviation regulators across the world are pushing to fly airplanes with only one pilot in the cockpit to cut costs. If accepted, the one-pilot setup would in the cockpit lower costs besides helping airlines to cope with the flight crew shortage. However, some find it disconcerting to put such authority in the hands of a single person. ( More...

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patrick baker 53
short sighted siliness maskcarading as fiscal sensibility. It is a dangerous supposition that says one pilot is always going to be a safe operation. The world of aviation does not exist to make accountants happy, and the FAA would be remiss to support this crazy innovation.
Chris B 19
If this ever happens, what are the odds that someone will try and fill that empty seat with a fare paying passenger.
James Simms 17
Ryan Air might
Firecul Firecul 1
The most expensive seat in the plane, they'd have the best legroom and view.
John Nichols 1
What if P2 is a private pilot...?

Yuk yuk
David Ingram 2
A reduced price ticket.
jbermo -4
It's the future and you, unfortunately, are along for the ride.
Ken McIntyre 39
This is a horrible idea and will come around to bite the tight wadded carriers if allowed to happen. I plan to NEVER take a commercial flight with only one pilot.
Ken - I agree with you on not taking flights with only one pilot in the cockpit. Will airlines be forthcoming to say which flights will only have one pilot? Kind of late when one is in the boarding gate and passengers find out the reduced cockpit staffing.
John David 19
THIS is exactly why making a change like this is beyond irresponsible and unacceptable.

This just happened on November 19th. R.I.P. Captain Ford!
John Roche 17
Precisely! The only single pilot planes that I have ever flown on are 9 passenger Caravans making 10 minute island hops in the Caribbean, and even then I felt a bit uneasy that there was no "backup" pilot. If it ever becomes the industry standard to fly large jets with a single pilot, I will surely become a fan of rail and sea travel.
Shawn Salter 1
Nobody is talking about the elephant in the room, the experimental injections that became mandatory for pilots, causing thrombosis among other horrifying "side-effects". Chances of thrombosis increase at altitude. When are we going to stop this madness?
Joe Keifer 14
The safety culture in airlines that support this move is broken. Don't let the bean counters run anything that is safety related.
Randy Reynard 11
Absolute IDIOCY! Single pilot IFR in a complex aircraft is seriously challenging. Can't imagine doing it with 200 people riding in back with you.
linuxranch 0
The number of people sitting behind you has little bearing on the issue. The pilot dies first, even if there are no passengers!
What are they smoking? If this happens, I will not fly!
jbermo 1
Good luck swimming if crossing oceans.
Andreas Pyper 4
I will stop flying. If that curtails my ability to go across the oceans well then so be it.
Tom Bruce 3
just won't go....
Ron Streetenberger 12
That is a wonderful way to save money-------Until it isn't.
Greg S 13
From reading numerous accident reports over the years I've concluded that even two pilots is not enough during an emergency. There are simply too many critical tasks to quickly handle during an emergency. I don't see technology changing that anytime soon.
rebomar 12
Flew for AAL. We had a captain die on short final. Only one pilot, NO WAY.
Patty Vanoy 9
Larry Toler 10
After 9/11 it is mandatory to have two people on the flight deck at ALL times. Even in the EMB145's and J41's I was FA on. When one pilot had to "take a break", I would fill in. Of course I can't fly the aircraft, but if something was to happen to the other pilot I would be there as a stopgap by the time the other pilot returns. For my part I would be on the radio and running down the checklists. Luckily, I never had to do that.
Terrible idea. CRM is important to PAX, crew, carriers and general population as a whole. SMH
I'll take "World's Stupidest Ideas" for $1000, Alex.
James Simms 4
Daily Double
Mark Kortum 12
The AA commuter flight out of ORD this week would have crashed just after takeoff if that one pilot was the one who had the cardiac arrest.
AF 447 doesn't seem like a good example of how multiple pilots could save the day...although they SHOULD be able to.
Ken McIntyre 5
447 was a perfect example of the plane flying you rather than you flying the plane.
jbermo 6
The camel's nose is under the tent here with regards to full automation.
Andreas Pyper 2
A sad but very true statement.
Robert Parker 5
Craig Good 5
This would actually be worse than fully autonomous flights.
Dan Chiasson 5
IMHO, this is driven by financial performance. Everything else, including safety, is secondary. Full stop.
linuxranch 4
Just this week we had an aircraft return to the takeoff location when the Capt became incapacitated, and subsequently died, on arrival at the hospital.

Would "single pilot aided by automation" have, correctly diagnosed the situation and returned to land vs "continued to destination" ensuring the incapacitated pilots death? (In the cited case, he died anyway!)

What if it is an incapacitated passenger instead? Would they just bang on the cockpit door and hope the solo pilot could deal with the issue.

The "consequences of failure" and the "time to first responder arrival" are all much less in situations in transit systems where automation has worked successfully. Examples include BART in SFO.
Bart Groeneveld 4
Worst. Idea. EVER.
Jim Dawson 8
The article quotes a Chinese source as stating in favor of single pilot operations and ground controlled takeoff & landings. The Chinese are a trusted source???.
Granular pushing flight ✈️ to cockpit with only one pilot 👩‍✈️ to cut across most especially by a single person
Tim Dyck 3
Some short hops in aircraft that hold less than 15 passengers OK one pilot is enough. But anything longer than an hour or more then 15 passengers is a big NO for me.
Blue Withrow 3
There are all kinds of dumb, but this has got to be near the top of the list of ideas that should never get off the ground.
Lewis Tripp 6
Unless two in the front office, I won't fly.
Edward Gold 3
jtilden 3
Two people thinking/cross checking each other is clearly a safer environment than one person by themselves. Everyone makes mistakes at some time. The other person is there as an active cross check to prevent mistakes from turning into problems. Ask any Pilot if we have ever made any mistake. Everyone has stories. Many times the mistake was not an issue with controlling the aircraft rather an issue in judgement that could have been mitigated with a conversation, that is the principle of cockpit resource management, a practice which has been proven to enhance overall safety. Automation may help to minimize safety gaps but there is a history of automation inducing safety problems of a different nature. It takes a combination of people and automation to achieve adequate safety to conduct daily scheduled airline operations..
michael quick 3
are they stupid? where is the commonsense in that, if pilot ill who takes over, stupidity and could not care attitudes, this make excess monies is a killer.
Greer Kemp 3
Unbelievable stupid idea. I am no pilot but even I know that the critical issue is safety and that during an emergency the pilots workload increases tremendously. One pilot simply could not cope... and when you are in the air, you don't get a second chance... you have to fly the aircraft and get it safely on the ground... it is pure accountant-speak to think this is a safe or intelligent idea.
Paul F Harris 3
less staff to pay, are price tickets going to go down?
Paul F Harris 1
No of course not high ticket prices mean bigger profits
bentwing60 3

nuff said
James Simms 3
Otto The Auto Pilot not going to be on any flight
Mark Cuming 5
Bad idea. Look what happened on that Envoy flight a few days ago. Didn’t hear? Captain incapacitated and later died. FO handled things, not an FA and not a passenger.
Ed Allen 5
Airlines….it is the CFOs. Cramped seats, crapy service. Now. Single pilots. I guess they don’t care about safety. ONLY GREEN/greed. Who will fly when the pilot becomes sick or worse….dies. Don’t say it wont….IT DOES EVERY YEAR. When they do succeed…. And your family member dies sue the crap out of them.
John DesMarteau 1
The workload on a single airline pilot during the approach and short final during a significant crosswind (one that’s still within OPL), would be an invitation to disaster. The single pilot would have to be both the PF and the PM. In a true emergency situation the inevitability of a crash would likely approach 100%. The FAA/NTSB have too many investigations in their files that invalidate the idiocy of such a proposal. We haven’t had a major airline crash in the US since Colgan Air in 2009 that killed 49 souls on the plane and 1 on the ground. I’d bet the FAA/NTSB would like to keep that streak going. A single pilot in an airline cockpit is not a way for that to happen.
Pamela Kinnane 2
Also, get rid of all those automated safety features cluttering up the cockpit.
Firecul Firecul 2
They should get rid of one of the engines as well, then they can remove 1 electrical system and 1 hydraulic system also. Imagine how much weight and fuel they'd save without them.
Russell Johns 2
It is an absolute lie when airlines say safety is their top priority. They'd gladly crash more planes if it saved a few bucks.
Bernie20910 4
Two is one and one is none.
Dan Hill 2
I am a retired Airline Pilot of more than 30 years flying for a major airline. Again I see MONEY being considered over the safety of the passengers. If the airlines could, they would be flying everything with out any pilots!! Of course there way of thinking is computers can take care of everything so know need for a human at the controls. Wrong!! Computers fail!! Nothing has replaced the human brain! Lot of passengers aboard our planes these days! Hugh loss of life when one goes down for computer failure! Once this happens, the carrier with the human pilots will get the majority of the business.
John Yarno 2
If I am not mistaken, didn't we just have an incident with a pilot having some serious problem and the copilot taking over and landing? As I recall my reaction was to laugh at the news because they were making a big deal about the copilot making a perfect landing, trying to treat it like the cases where a non-pilot had to take over and land a small plane. What they seem to be trying to do here is eliminate that redundant safety. It seems to me like they are setting up that private aviation situation with an ATC trying to talk someone who is not qualified through the landing of a huge aircraft while sitting 3 stories above the runway, at 180 knots, with around 200 or more passengers. Not someones wife whose husband just died at the controls of a small plane while sitting maybe 4 feet above the runway and with a 50 knot stall speed.
Leander Williams 2
You are absolutely correct. Just 2 days ago at O'Hare in Chicago. The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating after an American Eagle pilot suffered a medical emergency shortly after taking off from O'Hare International Airport this past Saturday night. The pilot of American Eagle (Envoy) Flight 3556 later died at an area hospital. The plane had 57 passengers plus the crew, NONE of which would have survived if the pilot was the only one in the cockpit. This asinine plane should never have even been considered.
Jane Woosencraft 2
No. Bad idea. Safety loses.
paul cordes 2
Guess what, I'll pay the extra what $7 or $8 dollars per passenger to keep the second pilot up there. Ridiculous to have sole pilot operation, due to temporary illnesses or ongoing medical issues. Bean counters are way out of line here!
Ron Slater 2
The Pilots and their unions will never let this happen.
David Purtz 2
Or the passengers. It doesn't take a genius to understand this is a terrible idea (April fools joke for Thanksgiving from the government).
Tony Kastrinakis 2
This is when penny pushers should be lined up and shot.
Mariner777 3
Idiocracy the general public won’t understand some might still fly , but it is crazy. They would be cutting off they’re own noses to spite they’re face. They will loose businesses and possibly lives!!
Bill Casey 1
Stupid is as Stupid does!!!
Steve Cutchen 1
Not a problem! During an emergency, the one pilot will just have to fly the plane while simultaneously managing the written checklists and procedures!

No biggie! Just start recruiting for flight school automobile drivers that can simultaneously read Facebook on their phones!
Peter McLaughlin 1
ABSOLUTELY NOT! That's removing the most vital safety need on any plane!
mel milberg 1
take some grammar lessons. there? you mean their.
Ed Chapman 1
Attention passengers, does anyone know how to fly a plane?
Robert Black 2
This evil and stupid idea gains traction because the twits in the Front office decided to fire all the crew who refused the clot shots. It'd pure evil.
Juan Parodi 1
So dumb idea
Thomas Francl 1
That would be a big NEGATIVE. I'll drive myself & take my chances avoiding a drunk driver.
Darrell Bruggeman 1
I already don't trust airlines and now they are trying to make sure I never fly again.
Shawn Salter 1
So what happens when the solo pilot has a SADS incident from the you know what, while flying?
rbt schaffer 1
There won't be anyone to see the pilot SLEEPING
Byron Huff 1
Rail has only one engineer. They used to have a crew of five!
Stefan Sobol 1
If they can remotely pilot a vehicle into lunar orbit and then back to earth, remotely flying a plane from Chicago to Atlanta should be a piece of cake.
Michael Osmers 1
I don’t think so.
David Beattie 1
People gladly get into unmanned Taxis now. And the pilots ride the driverless trains out to the concourses. There will continue to be two pilots monitoring flights but the other guy will be on the ground. This will begin with the cargo airlines. Already, FEDEX is testing a UAV Caravan for feeder service. Get ready, it’s coming.
Juan Jimenez 1
Not no, not hell no, f**k no. This is a truly stupid idea.
Stan Schmoe 1
Bad idea and the outcome even worse!
Donald Schoengold 1
On domestic flights I suspect that the people who are pushing this are either Greyhound Bus companies or maybe the people who are trying to expand the American railroad network. But wait - don't trains have to have 2 people in the locomotive in addition to a dead man's switch.
Byron Huff 1
No, only one!
Doug Haviland 1
Try watching Airline Disasters on the history channel. It almost makes me not want to fly now. One pilot? I think not.
John Nichols 1
If there are five pilots, and none have extensive manual reversion training there are zero pilots on the flight deck...
Paul Ipolito 1
Airlinr operators- Please make sure the "Lone" pilot can actually flay a plane in case his/her computer blows a fuse mid-flight. And please know that I and any of my loved ones will ever board a plane with a lone pilot. As stated in other posts- NFW!!!
Paul Ipolito 2
"Fly" "Flaying" a plane would be frowned on.
Dawn Brady 1
No way if that happens I will never fly again,
Ron Streetenberger 1
Even a "one pilot" cargo aircraft would be a threat to those on the ground if the pilot became incapcitatated.
mikeenderle 1
Germanwings 9525.

I rest my case.
Peter Bradbury 1
I'll just leave this here:
Duane Osman 1
Maybe there should be a back-up alarm clock in the cockpit.
Robert Longpre 1
No Thank You. I will take the bus if I want a single driver.
George Gould 1
So Air Force One captain will not have a co-pilot to save money when FAA approves this?
Andreas Pyper 1
This is the worst idea ever. But watch it will happen with Cargo Carriers first. I will simply stop flying as a passenger if this happens. Yes it will curtail my lifestyle but I will not fly with one if the legacy or regionals if it is a 1 pilot operation.
John MacDougall 1
But even cargo carriers with an incapacitated pilot can kill 100’s of people on the ground.
When will Management learn that the best way to safe money is to get rid of top management?
Ron Streetenberger 1
A "one pilot" cargo aircraft would still be a threat to those on the ground If pilot became incapacitated.
Tom Bruce 1
Hell no.. I won't go... but I'm old and retired so I don't have to do anything I don't want to do...
lecompte2 1
So much for CRA and it's benefits proven daily in the real world of flying. Time to get bean counters out of management of airlines.
Timothy Annis 1
The aircraft manufacturer creates a document called a Type Certificate Data Sheet. This document is required by the FAA and states all the requirements for certification. In this document it lists the required number of crew (pilots). This determination is made taking into account the complexity of the aircraft and pilot workload. Granted, some long international flights where a lot of the time the flight is in Remote Oceanic airspace there may only be one pilot in the cockpit. They carry "Cruise Pilots" that can only be in command during cruise. This is done so the crew that will be performing the approach and landing will be rested and fresh.
Bob Lamond 1
Anyone interested in going beyond the headline should read the ICAO paper at
Adigun Samuel 1
It would lower costs and ease pressure from crew shortages, but placing such responsibility on a single person at the controls is unsettling ...
Adigun Samuel 1
If accepted, the one-pilot setup would in the cockpit lower costs besides helping airlines to cope with the flight crew 📞
James Speichinger 1
Absolutely the worst idea I have ever heard. Something happens to the pilot and 500 people instantly dead. There wouldn’t be a shortage of pilots if they hadn’t fired those who refused the jab.
Andreas Pyper 0
This is not the place for you conspiracies.
Ron Streetenberger 1
it's actually a good place to discuss conspiracies if they have a negative effect on aviation. Woke ideas don't belong here Mr. Pyper.
Greg Kusiak 1
I’ve seen more comments here about cost cutting than pilot shortage. I would like to think the latter opens an opportunity for the airlines to turn every flight into a training flight with an FO who is a freshly minted Commercial pilot with instrument rating looking to get a type rating under/with an experienced ATP - on the job training, rather in SIMs. Half a decade of that and the shortage will disappear. 2 stripes to start, 3 when they’re on their way and graduate to 4. Downvote me if you want, but see opportunity rather than danger and encourage the consideration of the idea and it’s potential.
Greg Kusiak 0
And here’s another story hinting at my idea above.
D Rotten 1
To 'cut costs'?? Well, that's the cover story.....when the industry has a pilot SHORTAGE, due to having been forced to get 'lethal injections'. Those that haven't, yet, dropped dead, are severely injured.
David Beattie 1
I hope you have your tin foil hat on!
Allen Jones 1
Do you even have a brain
feknight 1
FWIW - they already have flights with 1 pilot. I've flown several commercial airline flights with only 1 pilot. I guess someone did a cost/risk analysis and decided where the line was to require 2 pilots. Those flights had only 8-9 passengers. But I will say, as someone who sets in the back, I do prefer knowing (on the larger aircraft) there are 2 pilots up front (who each could fly the plane manually if required).
Art Pauly 0
In the last two and a half years, many Pilots were forced to take the EXPERIMENTAL COVID Jab. We are now seeing pilots passing out, having heart problems and other incapaciating illness while flying because of the Jab.
David Welshans 2
Any proof?
ImperialEagle 0
Yet another very bad idea by the Globalists/WEF as they advance their Great Re-Set. The woke corporations have an easy connection to get their ideas pushed through, in the interest of efficiency, of course. But my first argument would be the high risk. The FAA has been aware for a few years of the numbers of myocardial infarctions that are now up about 700% in ALL age groups since we the sheeple received those COVID vaccines, as well as a sharp rise in people just suddenly dropping-dead for no apparent reason. Part of the reason the FAA very gingerly handled the whole vaccine issue when it comes to airline pilots. It's all documented. Everybody knows it's going on. Nobody wants to face the reality that none of us really know what we have been injected with, and, what it's long term effects may be. The mainstream media, however, does not report on any of it.

Even so, the prospect of a medical emergency ,notwithstanding, there is no substitute for another pilot. I do not doubt that the day will come when pilotless aviation is going to be normal ops, but, I don't think we are ready to go there yet.
At least not mentally.
Kevin Keswick -3

In December 2021 WestJet experienced two inflight pilot incapacitations on two separate flights (within a few weeks of it becoming MANDATORY for Canadian pilots to have two injections of the experimental covid "vaccines").

Had there been just one pilot in the cockpit and he/she became incapacitated the aircraft would have crashed eventually killing hundreds of passengers.

How can such an INSANE proposal be justified? Who would be stupid enough to fly on a commercial airliner with just one pilot flying behind an impenetrable cockpit door if something goes wrong?
bentwing60 3
Not to worry as PPPfizer has probably already, or soon will patent and selll their New Single pilot sudden medical emergency in flight kit, (injection), to be hung by the crash axe! But not in any of their GWhizzes with two or three Captains on board for long flights.

Meanwhile, "Otto Pilot, Jim Stryker, Elaine from the movie "Airplane" and AB automation will take care of the flyin' chores for the masses and freight. Who knows, next may come Garmin Autoland or The really big parachute" with ETOPS in mind.

Sarc, sarc, sarc Cmon' man, what are you gonna believe, what they say or your lyin' eyes. It'll never happen!

Cheers and a pleasant Turkey Day.
Dhruv Venkatraman 2
Causation and correlation aren't the same thing. Then again, given your misuse of quotes, I'm not sure that the data actually matters to push whatever agenda you have.
bbabis -3
As we move toward aerial operations with no pilots, single pilot operations are inevitable.
strickerje 2
Aerospace engineering has always emphasized redundancy in order to prevent single points of failure. Going from 2 backups to 1 isn't nearly as big a step as 1 to zero. Even with 2 pilots, we've seen plenty of incidents resulting from the crew becoming dependent on automation and not knowing how to handle system failures.
Dhruv Venkatraman 1
Exactly. The same panic was happening when airlines went from 3 to 2. You also had the teeth gnashing about ETOPS and how 2 engines are unsafe.

Change is scary to some.
jbermo -2
With cockpits going in the direction of more and more and more automation, there is no doubt the future will come to this - and beyond.
paul trubits -2
Voting this post down is not going to change the future
John Taylor 0
I wonder if they'll still think it's an effective cost savings after they have to pay out a several hundred lawsuits from fatal crashes that would likely have been avoided had two pilots been up front.
Michael Meyers 0
Don’t be a Luddite! Years ago the typical airline crew was comprised of a Pilot, copilot, navigator, flight engineer, and radio operator. The prevailing thought at the time was operating a flight with fewer than a five man flight crew was suicide. Well we now know that presumption was erroneous. You can’t stop the March of technology. Single person flight operation will occur, at some point in our future. My recommendation is that they start with cargo operations and as the technology is refined integrate it into passenger operations.
Rob Carlassara 0
Unfettered late-stage capitalism.

Plain ... and.... Simple
David Purtz -7
Let us pray. This is more nonsense from the incompetent corrupt biden administration. Notice the Transportation secretary has no experience running or being involved in transportation, however he checks the box of being gay and believing that men can birth babies. Apparently we just have to wait for a crash or disaster killing a lot of people before they care.
Andreas Pyper 4
Huh? Your aluminum hat not working? What has the Biden administration got to do with this? This insane idea has been floated for years by airlines to cut costs!
Bob Lamond 4
I’ll guess you didn’t read the article and do some basic follow up research before posting your opinion and homophobic comment. I’ve no disagreement with your statement that SECDOT is one of the least qualified qualified individuals to fill that post. However, your need to bash gay men and make political statements is unworthy of this website. Further, if you did the aforementioned research you could have found the ICAO paper that was the source of the story. Here is the link:
Please read it and tell us where you see the United States as being a sponsor state.
For the record, I, too, am very reluctant to go down the single pilot (airline world) route. But this particular effort has nothing to do with the US SECDOT.
Craig Good 1
Well, you may be a bigot but at least you're a science denier.
Victor Girgenti -2
In the future there will be one pilot but in some office building somewhere will be another pilot that has the ability to take over and fly the aircraft should something happen with the aircraft pilot. Just as they now fly drones this pilot in the office building will be monitoring 6-8 aircrafts in flight. Should he be needed all his attention will go to that aircraft and the rest of his aircrafts will be picked up by another just like ATC does in an emergency. Like it of not, it is the future.
Rosomak 4
Airlines would still need a pilot for the office job, they would need to be trained and attend recurrent like any other pilot, plus additional training to monitor several planes at once. Then there’s the tech and infrastructure to make it all work and keep it maintained (requiring skilled workers)…

something tells me the cost-savings argument falls apart pretty quick
Andreas Pyper 2
The remote pilot’s life is not on the line; if you are in the cockpit you either fly or die. I would rather have the pilot in the cockpit if I am a PAX. Thank you very much.
David Beattie 1
Actually, being away from the cockpit could decrease the panic and allow the ground pilot to think more effectively. The less involved with the handling of the aircraft a pilot is, the better he is at reasoning. This is why standard airline practice is to have the first officer fly and the Captain manage the emergency. In the old days, Captain did both. The night before the LionAir crash and in the same aircraft, a knowledgeable jump seat rider saved the day. The same could have been done by a ground based pilot. There are airplanes that crash with three four pilots on the flight deck. Asiana at SFO, Pan Am/KLM at Tenerife, EAL in the Everglades, UA at Portland.


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