Europe Mulls Single-Pilot Airline Ops

Research will look into new cockpit solutions to reduce stress.

Two Pilot Cockpit Airline

Two Pilot Cockpit Airline

Photo credit: Olivier Cleynen/Wikipedia CC

In a logical extension of the “those things just about fly themselves” line of thinking, a European study is exploring the possibility of single-pilot airline operations. Launched in January, the $40 million, 42-month research project is called ACROSS, an acronym for “Advanced Cockpit for Reduction of Stress (and workload).”

The research is funded, in part, by the European Commission under its Seventh Framework Program, with a consortium of 35 participants led by avionics maker Thales. That company’s Thierry Malet is the project coordinator for ACROSS, which involves three phases. The first, he said, is “to develop, integrate and test new cockpit solutions that facilitate the management of peak workload situations that can occur during a flight, in order to improve safety and ensure the reduction of accident risks through the reduction of stress.”

The second phase will be to explore new equipment designed to permit “reduced crew operations” under “limited number of well defined conditions,” such as long-range cruise. This phase will also explore using pilot aids to assist a single pilot should the second pilot become incapacitated and to fly the airplane to a safe landing should both pilots become incapacitated. The third objective of the program is to identify “remaining open issues” barring implementation of single-pilot airline operations.

A website for the ACROSS program is scheduled for launch in July, but in the meantime you can examine a study presentation here.