Few pilots may realize that the autopilot, or simply known as “George,” actually dates back to 1912 (according to Wikipedia) and thus, almost to the first days of flight. Hence, it is inevitable that “George” will some day not only be able to fly the plane during a flight but he will also be able to take off and land the plane by himself. Furthermore, it should also be noted that unmanned aerial vehicle (UAVs) are already being used by various military forces around the world and thus, it is natural to assume that such technology is applicable to manned aircraft.
Thus, it is no surprise that Max Trescott has reported on his blog that a firm called Aurora Flight Services, which also manufactures unmanned aerial vehicle systems, has just announced that they have succeeded in having a Cessna 337 aircraft perform fully automated takeoffs and landings. Presumably though, the system (for now) will only act as a backup for when a pilot is incapacitated. However, Max also notes that Air Force pilots are increasingly finding themselves flying a plane from inside a trailer or a command bunker and the day of manned fighter jets and bombers may soon be over.
Hence, will the days of actually having a human pilot in the cockpit of a commercial passenger aircraft or any aircraft for that matter now numbered? Maybe. Nevertheless, any increase in George’s capabilities is certainly an added safety measure should a pilot ever become incapacitated and thus, a welcomed development.