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Astro

Are the days of the career pilot numbered?

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Driverless cars are a realty with the Tesla and the Mercedes S550 (in some non-USA markets) just youtube that where people let the car drive and get in the back. That self parking Lexus is ten years old.

 

There were four self flying drone R22's buit over ten years ago that had something to do with the Hummingbird project. There was once a picture that was leaked with an R22 that was flying without a pilot and had just launched a missile. I'm not a military guy but I think it was a Hellfire. I saw the picture and could tell it was real, not photoshopped as we have a full photoshop department for boat pictures (remove bird poop, etc.). Called someone we trained for that "project" and they confirmed it was real and shouldn't have been leaked. Then it was taken down. There was once a reference to this on Boeing.com where it was called the R22 Maverick (Top Gun, eh) but then that was taken down. This has been going on for a long time.

 

I understand the tests for aerial firefighting drones couldn't hit there target like a human and the equipment was new and couldn't effectively compete with legacy and paid for helicopters.

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The days of a flying career are not numbered, unless you number them. Unmanned equipment is not going to put you out of a job.

 

You will see a continued increase in the use of unmanned aircraft for many roles; they won't be taking over aviation. They will become an integral part of it. There will be an increasing need for operators of unmanned assets, but there will always be a need for pilots, too.

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The FAA requires UAS operators to hold a pilot certificate (Sport to ATP) for the 333 COA commercial operations.

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The FAA requires UAS operators to hold a pilot certificate (Sport to ATP) for the 333 COA commercial operations.

So when the Grand Canyon becomes a "Disneyland ride" they'll still have a couple pilots in the control room monitoring it. Awesome!

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I think society will resist fully autonomous/robotic flights initially and maybe give one more generation of human pilots a career at least in passenger carrying.

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You will see a continued increase in the use of unmanned aircraft for many roles; they won't be taking over aviation. They will become an integral part of it. There will be an increasing need for operators of unmanned assets, but there will always be a need for pilots, too.

 

Sure, there will always some need, but if you think the number of flying jobs won't be a fraction of what it is today, I think you're sorely mistaken.

 

The only question is "When?" Can someone starting a career today expect to have a full 30 or 40 year flying career with comparable compensation and job security? Hard to say.

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I don't think it's going to affect the industry, as a whole, in a significant way. Nobody reading this will ever see unmanned aircraft flying passengers.

Edited by helonorth
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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sLZEpy6Gf-k This is a little more interesting as its an S76 flying on a 30 minute flight without a pilot. As I was watching it I realized it would be a long time before it could take pictures of boats (and you might see I posted a comment about this). If we have two cfi's flying boats and one is new to it they might take 10 boats in the first hour and then 20 boats in the second hour and 30 boats in the third hour. So they work up to doing a downwind, base and final approach to a boat say every two minutes. You can see how learning is taking place in this dual instruction training. After about 100 hours of this a good crew can get most of the boats at an event like last week's 335 bass boat tournament where they all haul in at 60 mph to get to the weigh in cutoff in about 30 minutes. When we only had one helicopter and had a crew with over 1000 hours together we would usually get ALL the boats.

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The first time I rode in an S76 was about 1998. I was in Newport, Rhode Island and bought an R22 on floats there and took over a little office there (soloed there too many moons earlier). A guy comes into the office and asked for me and as it had been awhile I didn't recognize the young man from Lantana that was a former cropduster. He puts me in the back, turns on the TV and I get a tour in first class style. Probably will never forget that. We later went on to teach a lot of guys that fly S76's include one that flies for a current Presidential candidate. Those guys won't be here on this forum but might be on some of the closed FB groups of senior pilots.

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Sure, there will always some need, but if you think the number of flying jobs won't be a fraction of what it is today, I think you're sorely mistaken.

 

 

 

I am absolutely certain that the number of flying jobs wont' be a fraction of what it is today.

 

Unmanned assets are finding applications in various venues today, but many are venues in which a manned aircraft wouldn't have been flying the mission in the first place. The vast majority of unmanned operations are small fixed and rotor aircraft, the majority of those, and those with applications in play, are quad copters for camera platforms.

 

I've had the opportunity to work closely with some of the more sophisticated unmanned assets overseas, and while it would be inappropriate to provide detail, I will say that I found them very lacking on multiple counts. Additionally, I've never had so many near mid-air's in my life, as when operating with them.

 

Man has been fantasizing about a world where one loses his job to the machines for years, and it's one of the most popular science fiction themes. I don't forsee anything I do supplanted by unmanned assets any time in the near future.

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Well at least boatpix is offering a solution to all of this with a guaranteed job after 300 hours. I might take them up on it if things keep going the way they are with those damn Vietnam Era pilots refusing to retire....

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Well at least boatpix is offering a solution to all of this with a guaranteed job after 300 hours. I might take them up on it if things keep going the way they are with those damn Vietnam Era pilots refusing to retire....

 

 

Buying a job is no solution, and a job for which you pay to work isn't really a job.

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I am absolutely certain that the number of flying jobs wont' be a fraction of what it is today.

 

I think you underestimate the pace of technology. We already have multiple manufacturers successfully converting full-size, certified helicopter designs to unmanned or pilot optional. Unmanned K-Max's have slung an impressive amount cargo to troops in Afghanistan. The sensors are getting better, with sensor technology already far exceeding the capabilities of human sight. Even small, consumer-level drones are now shipping with obstacle avoidance systems.

 

What's lacking in unmanned aircraft is the judgement that humans have. Deep learning AI is making huge leaps in that department, and we've only seen the beginning. The self-driving cars are a good example of this.

 

As the technology improves, automation will become increasingly safe, increasingly precise, increasingly efficient, and increasingly cheap. Routine manual human control will be a liability.

 

This will remove helicopter jobs. Not all of them, but most. As I said before, the only unknown is how long it will take for this to happen. Twenty years? Fifty? One hundred?

 

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They haven't even figured out the self driving car thing yet. The aircraft already can fly themselves. The pilot is not there to fly but be there when something inevitably goes wrong. There will be many applications for pilotless aircraft but anything with passengers certainly won't be one of them.

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I am absolutely certain that the number of flying jobs wont' be a fraction of what it is today.

 

Unmanned assets are finding applications in various venues today, but many are venues in which a manned aircraft wouldn't have been flying the mission in the first place. The vast majority of unmanned operations are small fixed and rotor aircraft, the majority of those, and those with applications in play, are quad copters for camera platforms.

 

I've had the opportunity to work closely with some of the more sophisticated unmanned assets overseas, and while it would be inappropriate to provide detail, I will say that I found them very lacking on multiple counts. Additionally, I've never had so many near mid-air's in my life, as when operating with them.

 

Man has been fantasizing about a world where one loses his job to the machines for years, and it's one of the most popular science fiction themes. I don't forsee anything I do supplanted by unmanned assets any time in the near future.

 

+2 for me on the 'near mid-airs'.

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As someone in their mid 20s who's looking to get into this industry, I've been a little worried about this. I honestly think it's one of those thing's that no one can accurately predict but I reckon I may be in the last generation or next to last gen that will be able to pilot an aircraft for a career (apart from some super rare specialist roles maybe).

 

http://www.policehelicopterpilot.com/police-helicopter-journal/2013/11/29/when-will-drones-replace-police-helicopter-pilots

 

 

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As someone in their mid 20s who's looking to get into this industry, I've been a little worried about this.

 

I honestly think it's one of those thing's that no one can accurately predict

 

but I reckon I may be in the last generation or next to last gen that will be able to pilot an aircraft for a career (apart from some super rare specialist roles maybe).

 

http://www.policehelicopterpilot.com/police-helicopter-journal/2013/11/29/when-will-drones-replace-police-helicopter-pilots

 

Oh yes, we can accurately predict that these upcoming breakthroughs in technology will open up a vast new world of opportunities. Our industry is currently taking advantage of these technologies. We’re seeing a number of forward thinking helicopter companies adding some of these new unmanned technologies to their arsenal.

 

You need to think beyond, the industry isn’t closing down, it’s opening up and expanding into new areas that will allow for lower cost and increased revenue, in the long term.

 

Yes, in some cases this will reduce overhead; however, it will be offset by the demand of additional personnel in new areas for those willing to make the transition.

 

In the future, the career pilot will have to be more than just a person that wiggles the controls, flip switches, pushes buttons, and makes a few decisions. They’ll need to be tech savvy, well versed in industry standards of technology, maintenance, and management; in addition to being a skilled aviator with impeccable decision making skills.

 

Young man, don’t think about being the last, think about being the first to take advantage of these new opportunities. If you think it through and position yourself correctly, you won’t have to limit yourself (don’t limit yourself) to being a single skill set pilot. Be in a position, if desired, to buy your own aircraft and fly when and where you want, think about it.

Edited by iChris

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Moreover, don’t worry, UAVs/Drones won’t take the whole pie; however, they will take their share of that pie:

Aerial Photography/Videography

Power Line Surveillance

Agricultural/Crop Surveillance

Aerial Roof Inspections

Real Estate Marketing

Construction Site Inspections

This technology will open up new opportunities and bring additional people into the industry, not diminish participation.

Will still have work to do.

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Edited by iChris
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This will remove helicopter jobs. Not all of them, but most.

 

 

No, it won't.

 

Expansion of helicopter uses and applications will not remove helicopter jobs, and will not remove most of them.

 

Not by a long shot. The same is true of fixed wing jobs.

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No, it won't.

 

Expansion of helicopter uses and applications will not remove helicopter jobs, and will not remove most of them.

 

Not by a long shot. The same is true of fixed wing jobs.

 

Please try and tell that to the gainfully employed flight engineers from 20-30 years ago when GPS and FMC's were coming out...remember that third dude in the cockpit with a sexton and some charts?

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Please try and tell that to the gainfully employed flight engineers from 20-30 years ago when GPS and FMC's were coming out...remember that third dude in the cockpit with a sexton and some charts?

 

 

Do you know what a flight engineer does? I'm a qualified flight engineer. How about you?

 

It's "sextant," not "sexton," and that's not a FE function. That's a navigator function. Flight engineers manage systems such as fuel balance and transfer, environmental, electrical, etc. That's what the flight engineer does.

 

GPS had NOTHING to do with a reduction in the number of flight engineers, and neither did FMS or FMC. Nothing.

 

Flight engineer numbers began decreasing when Boeing (et al) began building aircraft without FE stations.

 

Comment again when you know what you're talking about. We can discuss it further.

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