EASA is examining the possibility of single-pilot operations for commercial air transport

The European aviation authority EASA is examining the possibility of starting flight operations with one pilot. In an ICAO working paper, EASA, on behalf of the member states, requested that the “necessary enablers” to be created “for a safe and globally harmonized introduction of commercial air transport (CAT) operations of large aircraft with optimized crew/single pilot operations while ensuring an equivalent or higher level of safety compared to that achieved in current operations.”

While the manufacturers are confident about the implementation, the pilot associations are more cautious. What if you are unable to work? How about a toilet break? And will passengers and cabin crew members feel safe?

In addition to combating the pilot shortage, the single-pilot concept should also lead to a reduction in operating costs, the working paper says, but “Potential additional costs associated with higher level ground support and two-way communications should also be considered. On the part of aircraft manufacturers, the development and certification of new cockpit designs and associated systems may require significant investments, although these are likely to result in safety benefits and savings in the medium/long term.

The goals

  • Assess the issues and feasibility of implementing eMCOs in the EU regulatory framework by 2025 by developing a risk assessment reference framework and examining a number of key security risks and mitigation measures identified in this document;
  • Assess the issues and feasibility of transposing SiPOs into the EU legal framework by 2030 through a preliminary analysis of the main security risks involved.

The main tasks and deliverables will address the following critical areas

  • pilot workload: Ensure that the single pilot workload during the cruise phase of the flight is acceptable in normal, abnormal and non-normal operations.
  • pilot error: Ensure that the cockpit design is reasonably forgiving, bearing in mind that when operating as a single pilot there is no margin for cross-checking by another pilot.
  • pilot incapacity: Detect if the single pilot is unfit to fly during the cruise phase of the flight. Ensure that the level of safety remains acceptable in the event of pilot incapacity.
  • fatigue: Ensure that fatigue levels remain at least as acceptable as in conventional two-pilot operations.
  • sleep inertia: ensuring the resilience of the aircraft and the operating environment for the time required for the resting pilot to recover sufficiently from the effects of sleep inertia to either assume command of the aircraft and land safely in the event of pilot failure – Fly or be able to assist the pilot-fly in a complex failure scenario.
  • Breaks due to physiological needs: Allow the lone pilot to temporarily leave their station to attend to their physiological needs during an eMCO segment of flight while maintaining an acceptable level of safety.

previous articleEurowings is expanding in Sweden with a new direct connection between Berlin and Gothenburg
next articleRyanair opens bases in southern Tenerife and Lanzarote

Bart has been working in the Belgian aviation industry since 1996. In 2021 he became a volunteer firefighter/EMT. He spends his free time with his Rugrats, his girlfriend, his family and his friends. He loves to travel, eat and dine well and supports his favorite football club KV Mechelen. He is an Ironman 70.3 finisher and dreams of completing a full distance.

Leave a Comment