Airlines Industry and Automation

Hi all! I am a senior in college finishing up a business degree and I am interested in beginning flight training after graduating (have only completed a discovery flight). With Airbus, Boeing, and other technology startups testing and developing self-flying aircraft, do you believe there is still the possibility to have a long and fulfilling career as an airline pilot? What are your views on the industry longer-term for new flight school students?

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This topic comes up a lot. If you do a search and read some other threads you will find you answers. I watch many a documentary as well as having been in the aviation industry both military and civilian for the last 25 years.

Short answer - Nothing to “worry” about looking at the industry. Don’t let that worry you.

Long answer - Yes they design, but getting that design allowed to fly is a whole different step that will take years and years of not only Regulatory approval but also Customer approval. Flying in a piece of equipment that has no human in control is still along way off. Just my opinion, but having seen what I have seen in the industry, we are just a couple decades from Mechanical wirings making flight controls move in the airliners.

I personally think it’ll be 10-15 years before they even produce a large scale “remote” controlled airplane that would even be considered for production which would require yet another 10 years before true development and full on production. Sure they are designing and putting out “futuristic”, but that is what they have always done. Always thinking many years ahead.

Now this is just my opinion and my thoughts having been a mechanic and worked in repair of both Maintenance as well as Operations side of the industry.

Look at aviation as a whole. I don’t know what you consider “long and fulfilling” but I would say you are pretty safe for at least another 20-30 years of flying. Maybe even more but who knows. Another plane crash or two, another Economic disaster and the whole thing goes up in smoke until the air clears again. The future is always hard to predict and that makes life changing decisions hard to make.

Put in the work and do what needs to be done if you want to fly and you will do fine and be happy with your choice.

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Hey Nikhil,
Here is another article that about automated aircraft.




Welcome to the forums! I too have a business degree.

I would not worry about automation, for several reasons. To begin with, Boeing is having a hard time keeping their airplanes in the air these days. Their automated MCAS system is responsible for hundreds of deaths. Clearly the automation is not where it needs to be.

Whenever I read articles about automated flight I always look to see who wrote it and what their background is. The vast majority of these articles are written by tech people and not actual pilots. Pilots understand the complexities of flight and that not everything is as clear cut as a computer program would make it out to me.

Now let’s talk about railroads. Airplanes operate in three dimensions, railroads arguably operate in one dimension, in a closed environment. Even with the new automation system they have recently installed, they are still nowhere near having automated trains. Have you ever ridden the Newark Airport “AirTrain”? I was just on it today. It is a fully automated piece of junk. It lurches forward, stops short, has unexplained stops en route and this is after two major overhauls and tons of money dumped into it. Oh, then it snows and the thing just stops completely. When the whizzes at Bombardier can finally get that thing to work I will start to be a bit concerned, but not until then.