Despite visible opposition, airlines continue to push for lone pilot in the cockpit instead of two, so that costs can be cut and crew shortages can be dealt with. However, there have been safety concerns because there have always been two pilots in the cockpit, and placing such responsibility on a single person at the controls could be a risk.
According to Bloomberg, over 40 countries including Germany, the UK and New Zealand have sought the change. A UN body sets aviation standards to help make single-pilot flights a safe reality. The European Union Aviation Safety Agency has also been working with planemakers. They are trying to determine how flights with lone pilots would operate and preparing rules to oversee them.
Even if the idea becomes a reality, it would take long. EASA said such services could start in 2027. Despite key nations pushing for lone pilot arrangement, it doesn’t sit well with pilots, and would also be a hard sell for passengers.
Technical difficulties and glitches have been far too common in airlines across the globe, despite co-pilots. The proposal to remove one pilot out of the two, rings a riskier bell for passengers.
Tony Lucas, an Airbus SE A330 captain for Ltd. and president of the Australian & International Pilots Association, is concerned that a lone pilot might be overwhelmed by an emergency before anyone else has time to reach the cockpit to help. “The people going down this route aren’t the people who fly jets every day,” Lucas said. “When things go awry, they goawry fairly quickly."
Lucas, a check and training captain, also worries about the lost opportunities to mentor junior pilots if flight crew are working increasingly on their own.
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