Relax, Lone Ranger; The Robot's Got It

December 19 2022
By: Shawn M. Galloway

As a frequent commercial flier, two concerning articles were recently shared with me that prompt some universal questions.

  1. What if Autopilot Fails?
    In a recent FAA advisory, the FAA states, "Multiple crashes have shown a need for pilots, who might switch on autopilot soon after takeoff, to sharpen their abilities to fly without automation in case they have to take over during an emergency." In many industries, automation is not just coming - it is here. Questions: Are you preparing your workforce to not just interface with this new tech? Should the automation fail, what recovery systems are in place, and is education and training being provided?
  2. A Single Pilot Will Do?
    Relax, Lone Ranger; The Robot's Got It A few months ago while in Belize, I took a commercial domestic flight from Belize City to Placencia. Sitting behind the sole pilot with controls within reach, I would be no help should the single pilot experience a medical emergency. This short flight felt longer than it was due to the anxiety created by the lack of a second pilot. But is a second pilot needed? According to some carriers and Aviation Safety Agencies, no. There is a growing interest, perhaps push, to move towards more lone pilot routes by the end of this decade. Attempting to address the apparent concern, Janet Northcote, Head of Communications of the European Union Aviation Safety Agency, noted, "These concepts will not be implemented until the aviation community is comfortable that operations will be at least as safe as they are today." As safe as? Is stasis the new goal with aviation safety? Questions: What tasks, if automated, might present an increased risk to others? If something were to happen to the only person in control or present, what are the recovery systems?

    "We are potentially removing the last piece of human redundancy from the flight deck." — Janet Northcote, Head of Communications, European Union Aviation Safety Agency

    "Nothing to date has proved safer than a second rested, qualified, well-trained pilot physically present on the flight deck." — International Federation of Air Line Pilots' Associations

    Article 1:
    Article 2:

Shawn M. Galloway

Shawn M. Galloway is CEO of the global consultancy ProAct Safety. He is a trusted advisor, professional keynote speaker, and author of several bestselling books on safety strategy, culture, leadership, and behavior-based safety. He is a monthly columnist for several magazines and one of the most prolific contributors in the industry, having also authored over 700 podcasts, 200 articles, and 100 videos. Shawn has received awards and recognition for his significant contributions from the American Society of Safety Professionals, National Safety Council's Top 40 Rising Stars and Top Ten Speakers, EHS Today Magazine's 50 People Who Most Influenced EHS, ISHN Magazine's POWER 101 - Leaders of the EHS World and their newest list: 50 Leaders for Today and Tomorrow, Pro-Sapien's list of The Top 11 Health and Safety Influencers and is an Avetta Distinguished Fellow.

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