Boeing Studies Pilotless Planes As It Ponders Next Jetliner

Great, guess who’s gonna be hanging around the house a lot now.

SEATTLE — Boeing Co is looking ahead to a brave new world where jetliners fly without pilots and aims to test some of the technology next year, the world’s biggest plane maker said in a briefing ahead of the Paris Airshow.

The idea may seem far-fetched but with self-flying drones available for less than $1,000, “the basic building blocks of the technology clearly are available,” said Mike Sinnett, Boeing’s vice president of product development.

Jetliners can already take off, cruise and land using their onboard flight computers and the number of pilots on a standard passenger plane has dropped to two from three over the years.

h/t Exile

  • Dana Garcia

    Passenger jets practically fly themselves robotically now, to the point where pilots have lost their flying skills and can’t take over effectively in an emergency.

    Still, the lawyers probably won’t allow a robot passenger plane anytime soon.

  • David Murrell

    Anyone getting on a pilotless passenger plane has got to be crazy.

    • mobuyus

      Not as crazy as getting on a plane piloted by pious muslims.

      • I will avoid Air Ummah.

        • Justin St.Denis

          From Air Ummah to Air Boomah in just one flight!

      • David Murrell


  • Raymond Hietapakka

    In 1984 I could have bought a light twin that could have flown me and 3 others automatically from 900 feet of the end of YQT to within 900 feet of YWG’s runway…I had the job to pay for it, but everyone at work thought I was nuts for trying to get 2-3 more guys to co-share it…they just didn’t know how it was done.

    • dance…dancetotheradio

      I work six hundred miles away from my family.
      I fly down twice a year.
      It would be awesome to be able to fly down on long weekends in two hours.
      Sometimes we car pool and take a four day weekend.
      Eleven hours each way.
      Aside from the fixed costs and maintenance, how much do you think the fuel would cost for a round trip?

      • Raymond Hietapakka

        I think it got about 5 mpg…the price of used aircraft simply skyrocketed around 1990…prices went up 300%..

  • Millie_Woods

    This will never fly.

  • Why not let that dog pilot planes?

    • bullnuke

      All that’s currently needed in the cockpit are two living beings, a pilot and a dog. The pilot is there to fill out the loading forms and passenger lists as well as look at the instruments. The dog is there to bite him if he touches the controls during flight.

      • But he’s a good boy. He wouldn’t do that.

      • Raymond Hietapakka

        Dogs are dependable.

  • xavier

    I doubt for now but if it should come I demand that the ticket prices go down as we don’t pay for a flight crew anymore.

    I bet that air cargo will be limitless and air freight will become less expensive. Maybe as competitive as container ships

    • canminuteman

      Container ships are going crew less too. They will likely be the first fully robotic carrier. Apparently if you design it from the ground up for no human habitation is is cheaper and can carry more cargo. Also, besides entering and exiting harbour, which is usually done by specialized pilots anyway, there are relatively few obstacles to crash into compared to trucks or ships.

      • xavier

        Interesting. Would that mean cheaper products? Also i wonder if robotic container ships could work for river transport like the Mississipi or the St Lawerence?

  • Alain

    It sounds like a perfect target for terrorist hackers.

  • WalterBannon

    Making Islamic terror even easier, now just a hack away.

  • Hard Little Machine

    If they do away with asshole flight attendants too, I’m ok with it. Robots can’t possibly do a worse job than this shit.