US pilot unions receive approval to conduct study into single-pilot cargo aircraft
US pilot unions have hit out at Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) plans to conduct a study into the use of single-pilot cargo aircraft.
Contained within the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 is a programme that would see the FAA, in consultation with NASA and other relevant agencies, establish a research and development programme in support of single-piloted cargo aircraft assisted with remote piloting and computer piloting.
Initially the parties will conduct a review of FAA research and development activities in support of single-piloted cargo aircraft and, within six months of the enactment of the act, will file a report on the possibility.
The study, listed in section 744 of the act, was opposed by pilots on safety grounds.
In a joint statement, Air Line Pilots Association, International, the Independent Pilots Association, and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Airline Division said: “The professional cargo pilots of our collective airlines strongly oppose Section 744 and implore Congress to reject this provision without delay.
By endorsing language that promotes single-operator commercial cargo aircraft, Congress will undermine years of safety and security measures currently in place and put lives at risk.
“The desire by some in the industry to pursue single-piloted or autonomously piloted cargo aircraft seriously places the American public and the flight crews of these aircraft in a tenuous position. For many years, aviation has been the safest form of transportation in the US.
“This is by no means an accident; it is the result of a strong regulatory framework built over time, paired with an ongoing airline system safety culture that is one of the most ambitious in our nation’s history.
“Attempts to roll back safety regulations in such a way are counterproductive, and unacceptable to the common good.