Appreciate the give and take here…Even if it’s just us, I consider it a good discussion. Just a coupla points:
B: “…But it can never happen “with nary a man in the loop” unless EVERY aircraft is following the same coordination, some master computer somplace. Otherwise one will sooner or later run into another one that is controlled by a different method.”
J: I’ll grant you the fact that it’d be difficult but “never?” Nah…fully automated interactive AI already exists…Data linked acft with appropriate interrogators on board bring us to the realm of the possible…whether or not it’s practical remains to be seen. I will tell you that the larger threat to this concept is bandwidth…
B: I’ll cite the “TFR” that’s required along the southern border to keep UAVs from running into other aircraft. You can’t have piloted and non-piloted aircraft in the same airspace.
J: Not necessarily true. Keep in mind, for the most part, the a/c operating down south are not the same as what we’re discussing here nor do they use the same mission criteria. Again, for the most part, those a/c are flown by human operators and are fully taskable. They do not rely on an avionics suite capable of fully automated flight but instead a, “man in the loop” sitting in a trailer somewhere looking thru a camera with a limited view. Also, in being fully taskable, those a/c do not follow a “wired” flight plan thus, the deconflicted airspace they require turns into a “TFR” all their own.
B: The only way you can get EVERY aircraft controlled by the same master system is to tell me, dbaker and everyone else that we can’t fly our Cessnas anymore. Ain’t gonna happen!
J: I hear ya but, again, not nessarily true. A data linked a/c on a “wired” flight plan, operating w/ETCAS+, an RNP/RNAV,GATM suite, and advanced AI could enter the enroute structure and stay safe. Add in the appropriate altitude deconfliction and new RoW rules and this idea could become entirely possible. Practical for civil use? Who knows?
B: Aside from normal navigation and control issues, what happens when things don’t go as expected, a system malfunction or unexpected weather? While a computer could determine “if A happens then take action B” it will be a long time in the future before they will have true AI that could evaluate a complex problem and make a decision.
J: Not really bud…All of those “problems” can be reduced to mathematical equations. AI already solves system malf. in a snap w/triple redundancy in many advanced airliners…And think about the last time you had to divert or skirt around Wx…you analyzed the situation, you picked an alternate, stated your intentions, made a course correction, and landed as soon as practicable. A mere process. Something my cell phone is doing right now as it evaluates the best tower to use for crisp reception or what google does everytime you run a search.
B: I’m sure you have seen the famous video of an Airbus settling into the trees and crashing after a fly-by. Yes, that was from a switch in the wrong position induced by a pilot, but why couldn’t the plane’s computer figure that out before committing suicide?
J: It wasn’t programmed to to figure that out. Human pilots are innately programmed to avoid the ground yet we read about CFITs all the time.
B: I’ll trust a computer to wake me up in the morning, help me post this on the internet, or to control the fuel and ignition system in my car. But I’ll never trust a computer “with nary a man in the loop” to propel me through space at over 500 MPH. I don’t think anyone else will, either.
J: Shuttle crews do…every launch…500MPH+…All kidding asisde, I hear you…I’m not about to get giddy about riding in a pilotless tube but, that doesn’t mean we’ll never see the technology come to fruition…
Anyone who could has never used a PC running Windows!