“Captain ChatGPT and his crew are happy to welcome you on board…” To prevent such an announcement from resounding one day in a plane, the National Union of Airline Pilots (SNPL), which brings together more than 75% of airline pilots in France, has decided to mobilize.
For some time, “low noise, a little music suggests that reducing, or even eliminating, the number of pilots could be an attractive idea”, denounces Antoine Godier, captain at Air France and spokesperson for the SNPL. The syndicate “raises the alert against the wish of certain manufacturers to replace pilots with artificial intelligence”. And to quote Airbus, which, according to him, is advancing on technologies to reduce the number of pilots on board. Not at all, defends the manufacturer, who says, on the contrary, “working on technologies to improve safety on board”.
Among the programs developed by Airbus, Dragonfly is of particular concern to pilots. Developed on a long-haul A350 by Airbus UpNext, a subsidiary dedicated to innovation, it allows a device to fly autonomously, that is to say without a pilot. With this software, developed for two years and in demonstration on an A350 since this year, the aircraft can “automatic take-off and landing”.
For Airbus, the program would not be intended to replace aircrew, except “in case of incapacity of the pilots, then the plane takes over and decides where it will land”. better with “a synthetic voice, the plane can even interact with air traffic control”, adds the constructor. Clearly, with the addition of new technologies and on-board artificial intelligence, the machine could now take off, fly then land and drive to the airport of its choice without human intervention.
Dragonfly is not the only project developed by Airbus likely to challenge the number of pilots in the cockpit. The European aircraft manufacturer and the European Aviation Safety Agency are developing the EMCO (Extended Minimum Crew Operations) project. The objective, according to Airbus, is to “manage pilot fatigue and rest times in the cockpit”. The idea would be, during a long-haul flight, to allow one pilot to rest while the other remains alone in the cockpit and the on-board software takes care of “steer” the plane. Alleviating the constraints on pilots would also allow them to “making decisions rather than flying the plane”, we say at Airbus.
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Source: Le Monde