As you fasten your seat belt a “welcome aboard” announcement is made by a computer — because there is no captain.
While plane designers dream of a high-tech future, the aerospace industry is debating whether if it will become feasible to fly passengers without pilots.
Computers already play a major role flying many present-day jetliners. They have the capability of carrying out takeoffs. And, they routinely are relied upon during long-range cruising. In good weather they often land planes — but always with a human crew ready to take over.
Industry experts on Thursday said pilot-less commercial flights are unlikely any time soon. But they acknowledge that the idea has gained greater currency after the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs, successfully undertook reconnaissance, electronic jamming and ground attacks in both conflicts.