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New Zealand CAA backs investigation into single-pilot passenger flights

By on November 24, 2022 0

The Civil Aviation Authority support work to investigate the possibility of reducing commercial flights to a single pilot in the cockpit.

The United Nations aviation standards body (ICAO) has developed a discussion paper entitled “An approach to new operational concepts involving extended minimum crew and single-pilot operations”.

According to reports, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency has said solo flights could start operating in 2027.

While the proposal is still in its infancy, New Zealand’s CAA says it wants to know if the proposal has any merits, without compromising on safety.

In a statement to 1News, a spokesperson for the authority said “As new technologies are introduced to aviation, such as greater automation of flight control systems, it is critical to understand how operational security can be maintained at current levels or further improved”.

“In supporting this document, we are not taking a definitive position on the merits (or not) of a single, reduced crew. It is therefore an important document because regulators such as us must be able to “evaluate and ensure the security of future developments in this area before any final decision is made, and the work program recommended by the document would support this outcome.”

Although the proposal is still being worked on, it would likely mean that on some flights multiple pilots would work on the aircraft.

However, they would probably operate in shifts, with the two only needed in the cockpit for landing and take-off.

Companies like Boeing have been pushing for changes to regulators, calling for action to ensure only a captain is needed in the cockpit with no co-pilot.

“The psychological barriers are probably tougher than the technological barriers,” Boeing president of Southeast Asia Alexander Feldman said earlier this month.

1News understands that the Airline Pilots Association of New Zealand does not support the proposal.

Air New Zealand also said it had no opinion yet as the idea was still in its infancy.