UAVs and Job Security

C150J

Well-Known Member
Hi all,

I'm new to the forum, but this seems to be the most appropriate place to voice my concerns. I'm currently a 500 hour multi-engine pilot and a junior at an Ivy League university. The school I attend is heavily involved in UAV/UCAV research, and from what I've seen, I'm very nervous about the future of pilots.


I understand that there will always be someone up front monitoring systems on PAX planes, but it looks like that's all they'll be doing, as the automation in store is RIDICULOUSLY scary. What do you all think? I'm trying to get as much feedback as possible, as I'm twenty and am bound to run into such technology in my career.


Don't get me wrong, I love current cockpit technology and appreciate the workload reduction (I have some C-550 and Cheyenne IIIA time). HOWEVER, I'm seeing pilots being engineered out of their jobs at my school (not even pushing buttons, which I find satisfying).

So, what do y'all think? Are there certain niches in aviation that won't be affected (Law enforcement, helo's, etc.)?

I'm just trying to get an idea of what I'm getting into....

Thanks!
J.
 

Derg

New Arizona, Il Duce/Warlord
Staff member
Here's a rhetorical question.

Would John Q. Public hop on a jet in a thunderstorm and fly from Fresno to Denver? Pro'lly not.

But perhaps so.

Personally, from what I've seen of automated systems on everything from the -88 to the A-320, I'd much rather drive than be on a pilotless aircraft no matter how technologically superior an engineer deems it to be.

As long as we're continuously performing software patches daily for windows, having to occasionally hit ctrl-alt-del when we try to run Internet Explorer and getting "Error 404" pages, I think pilots are pretty safe.

No pilots, no Doug!
I'm a nervous-enough flyer as it is.
 

tonyw

Well-Known Member
Well, here's the thing. We can't even keep our computers from crashing if we open up too many software applications. Now, just imagine having to hit control-alt-delete at 35K feet.

Would it happen frequently? Probably not. But if it happened even one time, then there would be a smoking wreck that used to be a $30 million airplane with 100 bodies on it.
 

RPM

Well-Known Member
Yup, I'll trust a computer about as far as I can throw it. I wouldn't even get on a passenger plane if it didn't have some kind of human control on board for when the computer systems crap out, and i'm sure the general public feels the same way.

"Why does it say Paper Jam, when there is NO Paper Jam? I swear to God, one of these days I-I-I just kick this piece of sh** out the window!!"


Computers are great, when they work!

But on a more serious note- I think the only real danger right now of job security is for future military pilots, I'm pretty sure there days are numbered. Why send human pilots into harms way when a UAV can do the same job cheaper and safer. They are slowly being phased out, it's just a matter of time.
 

shooter13

New Member
Here is my prespective.

People won't even get on a subway train if it doesn't have a "driver." There is no way that people will get on an airplane without a pilot on board. Maybe someday but not in the next 50 years.
 

Mr_Creepy

Well-Known Member
People get on driverless trams all the time though, ATL, DFW, MCO for example.

I guess I can trust automation THAT far but not an airplane.
 

shooter13

New Member
trams but have you seen an actual subway that isn't driven by a person? Maybe they are there but I haven't seen one.
 

jrm1493

New Member
I'm a GNC (Guidance, Nav, and Control) engineer, and we do alot of UAV work where I work. These things are not as automated as you might think; they are unmanned, but they are not very good at making decisions on thier own. I don't know of one that does not have a human in the loop.

I don't think we'll see unmanned commercial aircraft for some time; the reason the military likes them is the fact that the operator can be out of the line of fire, and the vehicle is therefore more expendable and can take more risk. That is not a factor in a commercial application, since usually commercial craft are not under fire, and since there is already valuable cargo onboard the aircraft (they are not expendable).

While the technology exists to make commercial aircraft unmanned, they still need a human in the loop, so if the mission is not dangerous, its still much easier to just have the human on the aircraft, rather than in a telemetry van somewhere. Computers are nowhere near able to make the kinds of decisions necessary in emergencies, since they can only take care of emergencies for which they've been programmed to handle; they cannot "think" the way you and I can when an unforseen emergency occurs.

Also, for once I think public perception will help us in this battle...
 

jrm1493

New Member
[ QUOTE ]
But on a more serious note- I think the only real danger right now of job security is for future military pilots, I'm pretty sure there days are numbered. Why send human pilots into harms way when a UAV can do the same job cheaper and safer. They are slowly being phased out, it's just a matter of time.

[/ QUOTE ]

JSF is supposedly the last manned fighter plane. Of course they are still planning on flying B-52's till 2050 (100-year life!), so I'm guessing JSF's will probably be around till at least then...
 

pilot602

If specified, this will replace the title that
[ QUOTE ]
People get on driverless trams all the time though, ATL, DFW, MCO for example.

[/ QUOTE ]

And look at how reliable those are!


[/sarcasm]
 

tonyw

Well-Known Member
[ QUOTE ]
But on a more serious note- I think the only real danger right now of job security is for future military pilots, I'm pretty sure there days are numbered. Why send human pilots into harms way when a UAV can do the same job cheaper and safer. They are slowly being phased out, it's just a matter of time.

[/ QUOTE ]

It's been said that the new JSF is going to be the last manned fighter. And if you think about it, it make sense (sorry, MikeD). Not only do you not risk a human's life, but the aircraft we are currently using are capable of performing manuevers that human bodies just can't handle. So with an unmanned aircraft, you can take advantage of those abilities.
 

pilot602

If specified, this will replace the title that
[ QUOTE ]
[ QUOTE ]
But on a more serious note- I think the only real danger right now of job security is for future military pilots, I'm pretty sure there days are numbered. Why send human pilots into harms way when a UAV can do the same job cheaper and safer. They are slowly being phased out, it's just a matter of time.

[/ QUOTE ]

It's been said that the new JSF is going to be the last manned fighter. And if you think about it, it make sense (sorry, MikeD). Not only do you not risk a human's life, but the aircraft we are currently using are capable of performing manuevers that human bodies just can't handle. So with an unmanned aircraft, you can take advantage of those abilities.

[/ QUOTE ]

That doesn't mean a human won't be flying it, however. And there will always be a place for human-flown combat aircraft. They be relegated to second line aircraft but they aren't going away.
 

shooter13

New Member
Can an unmanned fighter dog fight with another unmanned fighter? That just seems weird. Can they provide close air support too? Crazy.
 

tonyw

Well-Known Member
Well, they're saying that the JSF will be ready by what, 2010? And then it will have a life of about 40 years?

So that means we've got about 50 years to figure it out. By then, I'll be happy if I'm not drooling my old folks food out of my mouth.

 

Derg

New Arizona, Il Duce/Warlord
Staff member
[ QUOTE ]
[ QUOTE ]
People get on driverless trams all the time though, ATL, DFW, MCO for example.

[/ QUOTE ]

And look at how reliable those are!


[/sarcasm]

[/ QUOTE ]

Oh don't get me started on the DFW airport tram...
 

jrm1493

New Member
[ QUOTE ]
Can an unmanned fighter dog fight with another unmanned fighter? That just seems weird. Can they provide close air support too? Crazy.

[/ QUOTE ]

Dogfighting is mostly a thing of the past. Most of the tech is being spent on missiles and electronic/radar stuff. Sure our F-15's can mix it up with some migs if they have to, but usually its good enough to just light them up from 20 miles away.

In vietnam we got burned for not having good dogfighters, but I think things have changed - heck our enemies refuse to even fly against us now! If they do decide to mix it up and somehow get through the missiles, our fighters are more agile than they have ever been - and no, I don't think a computer could touch a human in a dogfight.
 

stuckingfk

Well-Known Member
[ QUOTE ]
Oh don't get me started on the DFW airport tram...


[/ QUOTE ]

Doug,

I have been to DFW once and I took American there, got to ride my first fokker.

But when I got there, I wanted to go over to the main Delta terminal and I couldn't find a way there. It takes a lot for me to get confused, but that tram had me licked. What a piece of junk.
 

Derg

New Arizona, Il Duce/Warlord
Staff member
To go from the American terminals to the Delta terminal, you have to go out of security, and then ride the tram on the 'other' side, Then you'll probably go from C to A to B and take about a 30 minute ride to the Delta terminal.

If ther's any precepitation or ice, sometimes it breaks down and stops in it's tracks.
 

Derg

New Arizona, Il Duce/Warlord
Staff member
[ QUOTE ]
Any word on when the new tram will be up an running?

[/ QUOTE ]

Probably pretty soon.
 
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