AUG 10, 2017 5:42 AM PDT

Would you feel safe to fly in a pilotless plane?


Would you feel comfortable up in the air without a pilot to guide your plane? A survey asked 8,000 people this question and the whopping majority of them said no, even though pilotless planes might be able to save airlines $30 billion annually and make flights cheaper.

The study comes from Swiss bank UBS. The results report that only 17% of the people surveyed said they would be likely to take a flight without a pilot. Interestingly, that number changed between countries and age demographics: German and French respondents were the least likely to take a flight with no pilot (only 13% said yes), while US respondents were the most likely (27% responded positively). Twenty-seven percent of those between ages 18-24 also said they were likely to travel without a pilot and that number rose to 31% in people aged 25-34.

The study says that pilotless planes could save airlines over $30 billion a year and that if those paybacks were put back into the pockets of buyers, US airlines could cut flight cost by up to 11%. European passengers would likely only see a 4% cut. The cut in costs is due to fuel gains from optimized flight paths, and elimination of pilots and training.

Pilotless flights have already started to be tested for cargo planes and air taxis. Put people in the mix instead of your mail deliveries and people aren't too keen on the idea, despite the prediction that pilotless planes would actually reduce manual cockpit mistakes.
About the Author
  • Kathryn is a curious world-traveller interested in the intersection between nature, culture, history, and people. She has worked for environmental education non-profits and is a Spanish/English interpreter.
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