Cargo Pilots Oppose Single-Pilot Proposal

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The FAA funding bill now under consideration in Congress includes allocations for research into single-piloted commercial aircraft, and several pilot advocacy groups are lobbying hard against it, citing safety and security concerns. “The desire by some in the industry to pursue single-piloted or autonomously piloted cargo aircraft seriously places the American public and the flight crews of these aircraft in a tenuous position,” says a joint statement issued by the cargo pilots of the Air Line Pilots Association, the Independent Pilots Association and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Airline Division. “By endorsing language that promotes single-operator commercial cargo aircraft, Congress will undermine years of safety and security measures currently in place and put lives at risk,” the pilot groups said.

The bill specifies that the research and development program would be conducted by the FAA, in consultation with NASA and other relevant agencies. The program would study the technology needed for a single pilot to fly a cargo aircraft, assisted by remote piloting and computers. “With the increasing frequency and severity of reports regarding computer hacking, accidents in current military and civilian drone operations, and mounting reports of autonomous vehicle accidents, we think any serious consideration of this technology is premature at best,” the pilot groups said.