Back to Squawk list
  • 28

IATA Director Debunks Hopes for Single-Pilot Flights: "Not Likely to Happen Soon"

MONTREAL, CANADA — Willie Walsh, the Director General of the current International Air Transport Association (IATA) and former head of International Airlines Group (IAG), said the discussion surrounding single-pilot operations in commercial aviation would continue for several years, with no guarantee that it will be embraced by airlines. ( More...

Sort type: [Top] [Newest]

James Simms 24
Health reasons, both physical & mental (Germanwings 9525); should dictate two person crews for the foreseeable future. The outcome isn’t good if a single crew pilot gets food poisoning or slips through the mental/or otherwise physical health screenings. ?
John Schryver 9
If this proceeds anywhere, I await the freedom of information disclosure that the airlines analysis is the cost of compensation following an accident is less than the savings in crew costs, so single pilot operations are "worth it". The Tombstone Principle yet again in aviation.
iflyfsx 14
"Hopes"? Who is "hoping" for this? Certainly not passengers.
Roy Hunte 6
Airline bean counters, profits over people.
aurodoc 13
The single pilot issue is a big deal because a commercial aircraft has a lot of passengers. Most of the time a private general aviation aircraft has one pilot, so does a complex fighter jet. In WW2 British bombers only had a single pilot. If things go wrong then only a limited number of casualties. In commercial aviation to me it is better to have 4 eyes and 2 brains on the flight deck given the potential negative consequences with a couple hundred passengers on board.
Shenghao Han 13
I strongly oppose Single-pilot flights... Humans are scientifically proven terrible at monitoring things.

The bottom line is, we can't even keep planes in the sky with two pilots monitoring autopilots...
tom green 4
After Bering a commerical pilot for 27 years and racket up some 16 thousand hours I would NOT like to see the airlines set up to fly single pilot operations!
After been in situations where I had no choice but to go IFR I am a firm believer that it’s no place for flying passengers around the country side in a single engine airplane IFR!!!!
Thomas Brown 4
Just looking at google results, it seems a 747 costs about $25,000 per hour to operate. So their cost savings model is to eliminate paying for a human pilot that costs what? $70/hour to operate? $100/hour? Maybe upgrade to more fuel-efficient engines, better scheduling, more efficient routes. Seems about like health care, where they go to chopping nurses when they need to cut spending to make that bonus check.
John Rogers 0
In the current healthcare "environment", I don't know of a single instance of "chopping nurses" for a bonus check. Quite the opposite actually due to a nursing shortage. Maybe more greed in your neck of the woods.
I've seen what Thomas is describing exactly.
Nige Lites 6
I can't remember where I saw it, or when, but there was an old joke that went something like this-
"in the cockpit of an airliner of the future there will be two occupants -
A Man, and a Dog".

The Man is there to feed the Dog.
The Dog is there to bite the man if he touches the controls.
rbt schaffer 3
Wait till they go to ZERO pilots... Can't wait to see that lawsuit
arnold dunn 5
No way would I fly on a flight with a single pilot, way too dangerous.
srobak -1
don't ever take a chartered flight then... both of our P1's are single-pilot - even coast-to-coast.
LawrenceShaw 1
Unusual charter flight: "The P-1, the successor to the P-3C, is a patrol aircraft used for prolonged and extensive surveillance, and patrol over the seas around Japan."

Very, very few business jets are approved for single pilot operation, usually small ones. Insurance rules would likely prevent conducting charters single-pilot.
srobak 1
Premiere 1's
Robert Graham 2
"I don't expect to see a move to single-pilot operation, if ever, but certainly I don't see it in the next 15-20, even 25 years," Walsh said during IATA's Global Media Day last month.

Ok, guess I don't have to be concerned in my lifetime. But I do believe a single pilot is a bad idea. So while crossing the Atlantic, or Pacific, etc.....
gacoon 5
Its bad while trying to manage the plane and converse with ATC during the push at JFK
Joe Keifer 2
To me, it's all about eliminating the possibility of human error. I'll be long gone by the time this happens but I can foresee a time when the flight deck is fully automated from start-up clearance to push back to taxi to take off to landing to rollout to taxiing back to the gate and engine shutdown without the need for pilot intervention. Oversight certainly, but no longer the need to do any flying unless the automated system breaks.
Marc Clemente 1
I'm going to play devil's advocate here. We went from four people in the cockpit (pilot, co-pilot, flight engineer and navigator) to three and now two. Flying now is safer than it has ever been. Granted, the cockpit of a 787 today is different than that of a Lockheed Constellation in 1945.

The Germanwings tragedy would have been 50% less likely to happen if we only had one pilot on the flight deck.

With only one pilot, the pilots can get twice as much hand-flying experience.

Almost all of part 91 is flown by single-pilot crews- including turboprops like TBMs and Pilatuses. These planes are not routinely falling out of the sky. Add I would argue that the flying done by high-performance GA planes is more challenging than part 121, and it's done without dispatchers and ground support.

A few things have to happen before single-pilot part 121 operations are a reality. The plane needs to be able to perform the entire flight without human intervention. The pilot needs to be able to perform the entire flight without a co-pilot. This might mean heads-up displays for IFR approaches. Automatic uploading of communication frequencies and routing changes.

When the day comes that single-pilot part 121 is a reality, none of us will care. Just like the day that navigators and flight engineers disappeared.
msetera 1
Only until Air Force One is piloted by a single crew member would I ever think this would be a good idea.
Roger Curtiss 1
Airbus is developing an autonomous automatic deviation capability that while currently described as for emergency use only could be a precursor to single pilot ops as iot blunts the argument of incapacitated pilots. Single pilot is coming-it just may be a way off in the future right now.
Ben Bosley 1
They said the same thing about ETOPS..
Phil Nolden 1
Single pilot airline operations are insane unless the cockpit is specifically designed for it, and even then, the possibility of pilot incapacitation (from any number of factors) is to too much of a risk.
gerald williams -7
I will never step foot on a plane with one pilot after the forced "vaxxing" of pilots.

"Died suddenly" is not in my game plan.
LawrenceShaw 4
I don't recall ever seeing a NTSB report of an accident or incident caused by any type of vaccination. Have I missed these reports?
Ron Slater 2
No you haven't because there were TWO pilots and only one died suddenly.
John Rogers 1
So, when did this happen?

just one example.
John Rogers 1
Any pilots that are going to "die suddenly" will be dead before single pilot operation are approved. You need to be more concerned about the unforeseen, unpredictable, non vax related issues,like undetected brain aneurysms rupturing, causing the pilot to spiral the plane into the ground. So rest easy.


Don't have an account? Register now (free) for customized features, flight alerts, and more!
Did you know that FlightAware flight tracking is supported by advertising?
You can help us keep FlightAware free by allowing ads from We work hard to keep our advertising relevant and unobtrusive to create a great experience. It's quick and easy to whitelist ads on FlightAware or please consider our premium accounts.