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No more copilot?

  1. Sep 7, 2010 #1
    Who needs a copilot?

    I was usually alone too, flying, so why not? Or?
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 7, 2010 #2
    I'd love to see this guy if he was on one of his 'solo pilot' flights when the pilot is taken ill (heart attack maybe???).

    Edit: I fly alone too (or at least the only person capable of flying the aircraft) however, if something happens to me and I am incapacitated, it is only me in danger if the aircraft crashes and you could say I (and any passengers who agree to fly in a light aircraft with me) took that chance when I took off as a solo pilot.

    In an airliner, you have a lot of peoples lives on the line. You could argue the computer could land in an emergency, but you have to factor in issues such as who would set the computer to land the aircraft? (ok, perhaps the other crew members with radio instructions, but then you're relying on them doing a hell of a lot and they aren't qualified for it in the first place, hence having pilots)
  4. Sep 7, 2010 #3


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    Perhaps the operative word here is 'alone'. i.e. if you die you don't take a dozen passengers with you... :smile:
  5. Sep 7, 2010 #4
    Also worth pointing out, in a total power loss situation (aka, no computers), you need both pilots to even attempt to land it.
  6. Sep 7, 2010 #5
    So how often has it happened that there was a mishap with a -say- single seat fighter airplane due to incapacitation of the pilot, (other than hypoxia, which would have affected all crew), that could have been prevented if there had been a multi crew?

    The technology is there to build in a button "auto-land" for the cabin crew to push, should there be a dead pilot.
  7. Sep 7, 2010 #6


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    Yeah. I just don't think you'll ever get buy-in from the public. Even if it worked fine, the first time something went wrong for any reason, this would be blamed.
  8. Sep 7, 2010 #7
    I'll get some links for the first point shortly.

    Edit: This isn't a case of accidents being avoided if there had been multiple crew members. A pilot dying in a fighter aircraft or in a light aircraft, if solo is a case of bad luck (don't mean to sound harsh there) and a chance they took. You are talking about removing crew members from passenger liners, which means all systems on board have a redundant backup aside from the pilot. Which, if he/she was to become incapacitated would be more than bad luck for the passengers.

    'Autoland' couple of points: firstly, they would have to say where to land, which would need to be a suitable airfield, choosing a small airfield blindly off a map / computer screen could prove just as deadly as a crash if the runway cant handle the aircraft, which leads to my second point - secondly, the crew would need radio contact to alert the tower at the emergency airfield, which requires knowledge of the radio equipment.

    Again. what about total power loss??? It ain't like gliding a cessna 182.
    Also, any form of emergency landing really needs the concentration of two pilots.

    Strictly speaking, the technology is there for the aircraft to conduct the entire flight itself, but there is a damn good reason they don't do that.
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2010
  9. Sep 7, 2010 #8
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 25, 2017
  10. Sep 7, 2010 #9
    There's probably more redundancy in an airplane than just the pilots. I see room for a lot of savings here.
  11. Sep 7, 2010 #10
    Redundancy built in for a reason. It isn't a case of "ooh lets put another one of those in, because we can". Ok, in some cases they do over cook it a bit, bit none-the-less it's there for safety.
  12. Sep 7, 2010 #11
    All doable,

    Push the emergency button "land at X". Emergency distress signal is automatically on the transponder with the intention of the computer. Flight path is automatically generated to X, just like Google earth does it, with the drive from X to Y function. Autopilot follows the route and does the right things at the right time.

    Really we have drones for years now, capable to do that. Nothing strange about that.

    Any idea how many times I would have crashed not being able to handle that emergency single handed, including the emergency landing? It's just a state of mind.

    Total power losses nowadays are extremely remote, with a few back up systems using different techniques. If you still have a total power failure, no matter how many pilots, it's not going to work with the electric jets of nowadays.

    But indeed it will take a long time before the public will buy it, a matter of http://artsci.wustl.edu/~grussell/epistemicviciousness.pdf [Broken] :tongue:

    Another reason why it might not work, is that the skill level of the remaining pilot would need to be a few steps higher. That may be a step too high.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  13. Sep 7, 2010 #12


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    Two wings, for example. What a waste!
  14. Sep 7, 2010 #13


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    Ryanair is infamous now for making these sorts of "plans". This is the same company that played with the ideas of standing-room only and pay toilets. It gets them a lot of free advertising and it doesn't seem to affect their business.

    Apparently they've figured out that there's no such thing as bad publicity (as long as no one actually dies).
  15. Sep 7, 2010 #14
    Ok, let's work through this lot, firstly, power loss in a cessna (or any light aircraft) is a LOT different to an airliner.

    I refer you to this flight: Air Canada Flight 143 in which a 767 (so a newish airliner) lost power. It took both pilots to bring that down, one flying the other performing, basically everything else. Remember, only the newest aircraft are heavily computerised (777,747 later models, 787, A380) and so to have such a system on a 737 which is one of the widest used airliners just isn't plausible.
  16. Sep 7, 2010 #15

    Oh and about single handed emergencies, problems with dead pilots are offset by mishaps due to crew coordination problems.
  17. Sep 7, 2010 #16
    Again, state of mind, in any single seat figher aircraft, with higher approach speeds and equally complex systems, it takes one pilot to bring it down, one flying and the same one performing, basically everything else.

    And I know what I'm talking about.
  18. Sep 7, 2010 #17
    Can I see a link for this statement please? I personally haven't been aware of any coordination problems with pilots (although I have no doubt they do occur) but I can't see how two pilots can be so uncoordinated (2ft away from each other) they face the same issues as airliners with a dead pilot.
  19. Sep 7, 2010 #18
    Offhand, there is this classical instruction movie of the captain looking at the co pilot during the take off roll who looked very down, after his fiancee quit. So the captain said "cheer up boy",

    The aircraft came to a halt on its belly a few 1000 feet later, luckely not in flames, so it could be determined why the landing gear was raised before the aircraft was airborne.

    meanwhile a publication here dealing with crew co-ordination problems.
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2010
  20. Sep 7, 2010 #19
    Regarding 'state of mind', in a fighter aircraft with an emergency situation, there is a way out of it for the pilot (magic flying seat thing...). and the only life in danger is your own (dependent on what's below).
    An airline pilot has the lives of up to 400 people on his hands with no way to 'escape for any of them'.

    Fighter or airliner pilot by chance?
  21. Sep 7, 2010 #20
    1900 hrs F-5, 600 hrs F-16 and a lot of other flying things.

    http://www.aviation.go.th/doc/Interim%20Report.pdf [Broken]

    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
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