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Europe: pilots say 'NO!' to single-pilot plan


The European Cockpit Association, a coalition of pilots' unions across the continent, is pushing back against plans being considered to have only one pilot at a time at the controls on long-distance flights.

The idea, called EMCO for Extended Minimum Crew Operations, is being researched by Airbus and is under consideration by the EU Aviation Safety Agency, but the pilots say it is “an inherently dangerous concept, driven solely by the commercial interests of manufacturers and airlines.”

The idea is that two pilots would handle take-off and landing, with the pilots rotating between work and rest periods in between; it's intended mainly for hours-long flights, and Airbus says “Pilots can thus achieve a better balance between working and resting time on long-range flights.”

A rebuttal from the pilots tells passengers that "relying on one pilot is not enough as flying with just one pilot is like flying on a pilotless flight. Automation on a plane requires humans to programme and manage it effectively. But, it often fails. This is why planes are equipped with multiple backups – like two engines, two generators, two hydraulic systems, two navigation receivers."

While Airbus is working on this concept in Europe, Boeing has in the past hinted that they would like to go down that route as well.

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