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Cathay Pacific Working with Airbus On Single-Pilot System for Long-Haul

Cathay Pacific (0293.HK) is working with Airbus (AIR.PA) to introduce "reduced crew" long-haul flights with a sole pilot in the cockpit much of the time, industry sources told Reuters ( More...

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Greg S 27
When something goes wrong the workload is often overwhelming even for two pilots. This is a bad idea that I doubt regulators will go along with.
Workload is high during takeoff and arrival procedures but not at long hail cruise . That is their rationale. However , there is always some potential during cruise that requires sound CRM process . This will not go past pilot unions ! Especially due to current layoffs !
SkyAware123 1
They're well on their ways to NO pilots which means no union. The military has done it for 20+ years w drones. it's coming.
ADXbear 29
What about the German wings suicide? Do we rally need to cut the pay out for one lowly pilot on flights earning hundreds of thousands if not a million plus? How greedy do these airlines going to get.. TERRIBLE IDEA,,EXPECT ALL KINDS OF TROUBLE FROM THIS STUPID, IDEA.

Good luck with the traveling public on this one..
Totally agree ! And the cost benefit of reduced crew bears insignificantly in relation to the balance sheets of flight operations !
SkyAware123 4
This was the first thing come to my mind. Some loony pilot now can do whatever he feels like. We might be better off with NO pilot except remote.
Mark Harris 21
"We've proven over decades we can enhance safety by putting the latest technology in aircraft" - didn't work out too well for the 737 MAX did it.

"the resting co-pilot can be summoned within minutes" - if something goes wrong you want someone there in seconds, not minutes.
Highflyer1950 15
Might even summon a resting “Captain” (AF447) who having been out of the loop for some time, could not even understand what was going on with his idiot co-pilots to save the day! There’s just too many variables to date that can’t be safely accounted for.
bbabis 2
AF447 is actually a good example of why autonomous flight would be safer. Even without the autopilot on AF447 would have flown out the other side of the clouds on its own if no pilot had touched the controls. Instead an idiot pilot held the controls full aft for 15 minutes all the while listening to STALL, STALL, STALL until impact.

Yes, there will be accidents with autonomous aircraft. That is a given simply because it is a human endeavor, but not nearly at the rate pilots have brought good aircraft to grief.
patrick baker 4
true: safer in this one unique case. But not appicable in the greater scope of all flights everywhere at all times.
I agree ! However , the automation / HMI will always be the bone of contention . These days pilots rely too much on automation . When I began flying it was about the basic aviate - navigate - communicate paradigm . That is no longer the case whilst automation calls the shots and the poor pilot is wayyy behind automation and incapable to analyse quickly what just has happened . Put the genie back in the bottle . Where it belongs . Anyone on airbus ?
patrick baker 7
within the accounting scheme of things, the salary of just one extra pilot for an over 10 hour flight, ensuring rested crew for descent and safe landings and safe flight monitering throughout, is just money, while an accident and crash and deaths caused by any number of preventable causes is large headlines, days of commentors pointing out the obvious, multimillion$ lawsuits, horrible publicity. Fuel costs are the big expense, and pilot salaries paid out also mean the pilots on duty have gained experience and competence, better for everybody. If profitability for outfits like Cathay and Singapore depend on less pilot salaries for survival, ignoring the accicdents/incidents prevented by competent crew coordination or anticipation- from rested and alert pilots does not balance on the side of reasoned common sense. Even regulators can see that clearly. BAD, BAD idea.
jptq63 3
Patrick, agree fully. Also think should such aircraft operate as such in the future and a crash occurs, I would view any lawyer could just pull up the archive of this post with all the comments and such airline would shortly be declaring bankruptcy…. Penny wise, pound foolish.
Dj Jacobson 7
I won’t ride it.
Well remote control over the actual pilot onboard deletes the German wings issue, and it's coming like it or not
sam925600 2
Yup. Planes used to fly with 3 or 4 people on the flight deck. Times change, abilities of technology change, and what is necessary needs to be evaluated in light of that.

With the second pilot being able to be summoned quickly back, I can imagine scenarios that would make me comfortable flying on with a solo pilot. For example - a non-pilot companion (flight attendant or other) Or a remote companion (pilot on the ground at HQ assigned to that plane, conversing with PIC and able to summon off-duty pilot).

As you say, it is inevitable.
bbabis 2
Very true Scott. It is inevitable. First one pilot then no pilot. The future comes wether we like it or not. I personally can't wait until a little EVETOL can pick me up to go to the grocery store so that I can avoid all the idiot drivers out there. That is the largest chance of being seriously injured or killed today. Another reason for autonomous cars designed to obey laws.
Roy Hunte 5
Germanwings 9525 should bring all talk of this to an end.
Well, I don't know, Germanwings kind of seems like a problem without a solution.

How about AF447 instead? Or Capt Sully? Or the Qantas A380 engine failure flight?
Roy Hunte 3
Strange the amount of upvotes along with the amount of negative comments.

But it's a bad idea anyhow.
Tim Dyck 1
I think people upvote to say it is newsworthy.
Greg77FA 3
BAD BAD IDEA. Certainly the technology is there - but as many illustrations have shown, from nut case pilots to mechanical issues, you need more than one to keep the plan flying safely. Its not all tech, but common sense.
So how will single-pilot operations play out when there is an in-flight emergency? Normally you have one pilot flying and the other one doing check lists and contacting atc/maintenance. Who's going to monitor that one pilot. "Hey bub. You forgot to lower the landing gear."
Cathay could expand the "reduced crew" concept by replacing flight attendants with vending machines , which would dispense food , drink , newspapaers , blankets etc .
Larry Toler 6
As a former flight attendant, I kind of had to laugh. I still joke about being a flight attendant, but I did take my job seriously and CRM was priority. This whole reduced pilot deal does not sit well with me. No pun intended but I can't see that flying.
jptq63 4
Instead of vending machines, I am sort of thinking the robot type that some restaurants are starting to use; maybe could even whip up a smoothie or café late with extra foam… and oh, they could be the stand by Otto pilot (Airplane like….)
Tim Dyck 1
Kinda reminds me of this little experiment...
Highflyer1950 5
Now the in-charge will have to check on the remaining pilot every :15 to make sure they haven’t fallen asleep or passed out?
Rob Palmer 2
Remember the old movie "Julie" with hostess Doris Day landing the DC-6B when the pilot was shot? Doris did a great job, but how many girls are there like her?
Larry Toler 2
My thoughts exactly. Even when I was flying when one of the pilots had to step away from the flight deck, I would have to take his or her place for safety and security reasons.
William Lucas 2
So that would mean no co-pilot to stop a suicidal pilot?
Rob Palmer 1
Suicidal pilot could be anticipated by super-deep vetting before he is hired. Check his genealogical record. Did Granny or her mother/father spend time in mental asylums in their day?
Tom Bruce 2
I'll take a slow boat to China
William Lucas 1
After actually being to China I would take a boat that completely AVOIDS China!
rebomar 2
Cathay Pacific's A350 has 280 seats. If it only flys one trip each day that's 102,200 passengers per aircraft per year. Pilot's salary $300,000 per year plus 100% for training, medical, retirement etc. $600,000 per year. So removing a pilot saves $5.87 per passenger. You think the airfares will go down.
Mike Prior 2
I am astonished that they would even contemplate this idea. You need a minimum of TWO people to create a check-and-balance, and pilot and co-pilot talking to each other should anything occur, is recorded on the cockpit voice recordings. What's going to happen now? Is the pi9lot going to talk to himself and bounce thoughts off his "other" ego? Ridiculous to the extreme!
David Rice 1
No one is talking about not having two "systems managers" in the cockpit, only that one of those systems managers can be automation, backed up by "takeover from the ground" in a "Germanwings situation". The "check and balance" you're referring to is still an obvious option, using AI as your second pilot. You DO understand the technology, yes?
Leo Cotnoir 2
It is worth noting that during WW II British Lancaster heavy bombers operated without a co-pilot. And it is also worth mentioning that Cathay is not proposing that there only be one pilot on board but that only one need be on duty in the cockpit during normal cruise.
bbabis 1
Leo, quit screwing up the conversation with facts.
I guess now we need to be checking to see if we are booked on a single pilot aircraft. I say no airliner should have fewer pilots than the minimum number of engines on that aircraft.
Randall Bursk 2
AB350 is state of the art. Wish I had a chance to fly it. Single pilot or no pilot is doable with today’s technology. To train or solve all possibilities on the ground can’t be 100% successful. Possible option would be airline dispatch centers have access to aircraft in flight visual cockpit and real time data from flight. Information then be checked by maintenance, flight ops, etc. Aviation is at its best when using all available resources in the air and on the ground. Interesting and exciting times. One international pilot that wishes I could be involved.
Pat Barry 2
German Wings? Yes. What about Egypt Air out of JFK? Same suicide.
What about Air France between Brazil and Paris over the Atlantic, and the pilot flying trying to get above weather and stalling three times before he hit the water?
Single pilot en route is a very bad idea.
Every airline has to crew its planes with five crew sets. Duty limits, sick days, vacations, bundled together requires five crew sets, so if they reduce the scarebus to two pilots (both at the seats for takeoff and landing but one en route) ill save two salaries, times five. Average salary, with benefits, US$275,000, savings of 2,750,000 for every aircraft annually. It's similar to when the airlines managed to eliminate the flight engineer on aircraft.
The airlines love the concept due to the obvious savings ....... but I loathe the concept.
It will take one hell of a lot of convincing before I would set foot in any long haul aircraft flown by any airline under these conditions, particularly long haul over water as most long haul flights are.
The absolute minimum acceptable would be a 3 man crew with the fresh rested crew member rotating into the pilots seat every 6 hours.
Greg S 2
After reading many NTSB accident reports one of the things I've noticed is the crushing workload when things start going wrong. During those times even two pilots seems like too few. Now when something goes wrong there'll will be a lag of maybe 30 seconds or more before the second pilot (just roused from slumber) can get back into the cockpit and be briefed on what's happening. It took less than 5 minutes for AF 447 to go from 38,000ft to the water. This proposal seems like an obviously bad idea that no regulatory agency will go along with.
jmilleratp 2
No thanks.
One step closer to pilots becoming only systems monitors and no longer aviators. Where is the fun in that?

I don't like it for several reasons, but it's coming. And the pilot shortage will only accelerate the push.
Pascal Simon 1
It's all well and good to scratch at all posts, but when there is a problem, we do how, all electrical and computer systems have already shown these flaws. No later than with the 737max.
Yeah, no. Really bad idea, really really bad idea...

Will there be ONLY one pilot? No backups? That's an even worse idea. Just tell your passengers that they *might* make it to the destination, and if they go, it's all on them.

Saving money? And the first crash, it's going to cost a hell of a lot more than having 20 pilots on the plane. Yikes...
Rob Palmer 1
Why the copilot? Because, generally unknown to the public, anyone can drop dead at any time, even if inconvenient. I disapprove of dropping the second pilot.
Aviation has found a good mix of number of crew for freight depending on AC size. Few readers do not understand that small aircraft Freight hauling are one person crews. These flights are mostly manual and likely under 4 hours in length, But you put a 100,000 Lb freight hauler over populated areas and your talking a whole new arena of saftey. Also most large AC are OVER automated. Instead of reducing crew size we should reduce automation and require increase human control time in the cockpit. For really Long flights 4+ Hours a 3 person crew and at least 3 engines should be the norm. As AC become even larger then the B747-800s, C5-Ms, etc.
pilotjag 1
I'm surprised you were even able to post the same link that was already squawked...

Also, please note that this article is also a month old...
Rex Bentley 1
Well back to riding the bus. If a bus can't get there, I don't need to go.
Mike Mohle 1
Reuters must not have gotten the new Style Sheet implemented yet: They used the evil and sexist word "Cockpit" in the article. Cancel them now!
What a crazy idea. What are Cathay Pacific thinking ????
skylab72 1
Awww. come on guys you know they want to haul the geese with zero pilots!
joe johnson 1
What could go wrong?
I guess its cheaper to pay out $500 million if a pilot plans or snaps and decides to RIP in the Pacific or in the Kazak desert. Pretty sure everyone wants 2 pilots. Granted that second one might be sleeping anyways, but i wouldn't fly with one pilot unless they have a plan to have the aircraft send immediate alerts to a pilot on the ground in case something goes wrong who can land the thing. Granted that's another ball of wax.
Tim Eichman 1
Air France had three pilots in the cockpit for the last 2 minutes and 34-seconds of that flight and the three of them couldn't figure it out...
David Rice 1
More automation in the cockpit means HIGHER pay for pilots, due to increased specialization. Talk to any economist. As far as the safety concern for "single-pilot ops", this will only occur when the "Germanwings thing" could be avoided through flying the plane from the ground. The tech is there, we only need to will [to increase pilot pay and passenger safety] by moving into the "only need one systems manager in the cockpit" environment.
SkyAware123 2
lol.. that's a way to look at it.
Unless ofcourse the automation makes them completely redundant....It's coming and you know it.
This is the future we should embrace it. Personnel cost, both direct and indirect are a large part of any organization. If the organization can reduce this cost that is good business. Organizations exist to provide services and make profit for the owners, that is the way it is. Remember the engineer who rode in the last car solely to monitor brake pressure?
patrick baker 2
public conveyances need to answer to the highest attainable level of safety, not the highest level of gross operating revenue leading to highest gross profits for the fewest executives and board members and preferred-bond holders, at the direct expense of the schmeels in tourist class and anybody on the ground who gets in the way of the plane crash.
Jeff Lawson -2
(Duplicate Squawk Submitted)

Cathay working with Airbus on single-pilot system for long-haul

Cathay Pacific is working with Airbus to introduce "reduced crew" long-haul flights with a sole pilot in the cockpit much of the time. Once cleared, longer flights would become possible with a pair of pilots alternating rest breaks, instead of the three or four currently needed to maintain at least two in the cockpit. If the pilot flying is incapacitated, the resting copilot can be summoned within minutes. Both remain in the cockpit for take-off and landing.


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