An EU study launched this week will examine the feasibility of a pilotless passenger aircraft.

For the next 30 months researchers will examine the technical and practical aspects of how a passenger aircraft with no pilots on board would operate.

Called the Innovative Future Air System, it is part of the European Union's sixth framework research programme. French aeronautics agency Onera is co-ordinating the work and will also model the robot aircraft's operations.

Project manager Claude LeTallec says: "Our goal is to do something very different: no pilot, no control, only passengers, operated like an unmanned air vehicle. We will see if it's possible to make the change to this system and then try to create a roadmap."

The study will also look at other issues including engine noise mitigation, but the fundamentals of aircraft configuration will not be investigated.

The project consortium will include Alenia Aeronautica, EADS, the French technical consultancy Erdyn, the German aerospace centre, Greece's University of Patris, Israel Aircraft Industries, Israel's Technion technology institute and Thales.


Source: Flight International