Aerospace Technology Institute’s latest Insights paper – ‘The Single Pilot Commercial Aircraft’ – has just been published. Open Flight Deck’s Professor Don Harris from Coventry University led the creation of the paper, alongside the ATI’s Aircraft of the Future Specialist Advisory Group.

The paper, twelfth in ATI’s Insight series, explores the aerospace industry’s journey to single pilot operations. It looks at the drivers for the development of a single pilot commercial aircraft such as cost, demographics, demand and crew availability and goes in to some detail about the approaches to developing the required technology, in particular automated vs autonomous systems and distributed crewing.  Progressive de-crewing has been taking place over the last 50 years and economic and demographic drivers provide bona fide impetus for further reductions.  Technological developments such as those being delivered under OFD will undoubtedly provide capability for reduced crew operation and as such the ATI Insight paper poses a number of important questions for the wider aviation industry, such as:

  • Why do we need two pilots?
  • Will passengers pay to fly in a single pilot aircraft?
  • Can ground support facilities be extended to play a role through a distributed crewing concept?
  • What would be the impact of such an approach on airline operations, organisational roles, responsibilities and culture, pilot training and career progression pathways?

As a result, it is evident that although market drivers and technologies are aligned to enable single pilot operations, the impact and effort required to realise such operations in commercial air transport must not be underestimated.

You can read the paper in full here: