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IPFS News Link • Transportation: Air Travel

Forget Driverless Cars, It's Pilotless Airplanes Now


he Isle of Wight-based company said it will allow operators to offer "uncrewed and piloted" flights.

Britain's only independent commercial aircraft manufacturer said its ultimate goal of optional full automation "should be realised within this decade".

But pilotless planes will need regulator approval and will likely scare off passengers, the British Airline Pilots' Association said.

Britten-Norman this week announced it had teamed up with British autonomous flight specialist Blue Bear to develop the technology.

The two companies are to launch a project to automate Britten-Norman's Islander later this month.

It flies on commercial routes between Scottish islands and is used for passenger flights and cargo operations.

The twin-engine utility aircraft is also used for search-and-rescue and has a short take-off and landing capability.

The team behind the project said: "Eventually the system will allow the Islander to take off, fly and land without any human input but the first milestone will be an automated co-pilot which can advise its human operator."

Britten-Norman is also developing zero-emissions to cut fuel costs, and reckons autonomous flights are needed to keep regional airlines affordable.