Ryanair's CEO says we'll see 'pilot-less planes' in the next 40 to 50 years

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  • CEO of Ryanair, Michael O’Leary, has predicted that we’ll see autonomous aircraft in the next 40 to 50 years.
  • UBS research suggests only 17% of travellers would be willing to fly without a pilot, but O’Leary doesn’t think this is a dealbreaker.
  • The Ryanair CEO said ticket prices will probably help dispel any fears travellers may have of flying aboard a pilot-less plane.

According to Michael O’Leary, CEO of Ryanair, the next revolution in flying is “aircraft operated by a single pilot in the cockpit”, and it’s already here.

“We already have the technology,” said O’Leary in an interview with Business Insider Polska, adding that the next stage will be completely autonomous aircraft.

RyanairMichael O’Leary thinks ticket prices will help dispel passengers’ fears about autonomous aircraft.

“It wouldn’t surprise me to see ‘pilot-less’ planes soon,” said O’Leary. “It will probably happen in the next 40 to 50 years — perhaps we’ll all be flying ‘passenger drones’!”

Other managers and aviation experts have also hinted at these developments in the near future: in 2017, Swiss bank UBS published research saying the airline industry may be able to start using remote controlled planes as soon as 2025 — a move that could save them $35 billion a year.

One of the biggest obstacles on the road to autonomous aircraft is fear

One of the most obvious obstacles when it comes to promoting autonomous aircraft is fear. According to UBS’ research, just 17% of travellers are willing to fly without a pilot, but O’Leary doesn’t think this is a dealbreaker in the long term.

“The ticket prices will probably help dispel those fears, ” said O’Leary.

He also drew attention to the fact that autonomous trains are already in operation.

“An autonomous train service between terminals at Stansted Airport near London was launched in 1991 and, for the first few weeks, passengers were afraid to get on a train with no driver at the front. Now? No one bats an eyelid,” he added.

Read the original article on Business Insider Polska. This story originally appeared on Business Insider Polska and has been translated from Polish. Copyright 2018. Follow Business Insider Polska on Twitter.

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