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Boeing to test pilotless planes

Boeing are gearing up to test pilotless planes.

The aircraft manufacturing company are working on technology that will allow them to create a plane which won't need to have any pilots at the helm. The idea has been inspired by the drone.

Mike Sinnett, Boeing's vice president of product development and a pilot himself, said: "The basic building blocks of the technology clearly are available. Boeing is looking to test the technology in a simulator this summer and use it in real aircraft from next year ...

"I will fly on an airplane next year some artificial intelligence that makes decisions that pilots would make."

Whilst the idea of having a completely self-flying aircraft seems a long way away, pilots are already using many automated assistance buttons and have seen the minimum number of pilots needed on a standard passenger plane cut from three to two in the previous years.

The company also believe these autonomous planes will help the industry meet the travel needs of the world's growing population after it was predicted that there will need to be another 1.5 million pilots in the next 20 years.

However, bosses at Boeing face a hiccup in getting their plans to go ahead on a wider scale - convincing the Aviation Safety Network and the regulators that pilotless planes would be safe for passenger travel.

Sinnett added: "I have no idea how we're going to do that. But we're studying it right now and we're developing those algorithms. If it can't [land safely in emergency], then we can't go there."

Meanwhile, Boeing are currently also working on a new aircraft to fill the gap in the market between the slim 737 and their 787 Dreamliner.

Speaking about the new plane, which could be available to customers by 2025, Boeing Commercial Airplanes Chief Executive Kevin McAllister said recently: "This is a market that cannot be served by narrow-bodies - not by ours or our competitors. It can be served by wide-bodies, the question is can it be more efficiently served by a targeted airplane?"

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