Showing posts with label travel. Show all posts
Showing posts with label travel. Show all posts

As Aviation Automates, Passengers Continue to Prefer Human Pilots

Passengers are showing increasing concern about their safety as airlines and aviation companies strive to completely automate airplanes.
















By Stephen Rice & Scott Winter - September 5, 2021

This article was originally published in  The Conversation

In the wake of the Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines crashes of Boeing 737 Max planes, people are thinking about how much of their air travel is handled by software and automated systems – as opposed to the friendly pilots sitting in the cockpit.

Older commercial airliners, such as the Beechcraft 1900, which are still in service mostly as small commuter aircraft, often do not have any autopilot installed. By contrast, modern commercial airliners have automated systems that can augment or even replace pilots’ performance, managing engine power, controlling and navigating the aircraft, and in some cases, even completing landings.

A flight simulator program shows how a plane can help land itself.

Investigations are probing the possible role of automated systems in the 2018 Lion Air Flight 610 crash in Indonesia and the Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 crash in March 2019. Regardless of those findings, the public may not know how much automation already is part of flying today – nor how much more automated commercial flight will become in the years ahead.

Our research has examined consumers’ willingness to interact with automated systems on all types of vehicles, including aircraft. Most recently, we have begun looking into people’s interest in what is being called “urban air mobility.” This concept involves a system of small two- to four-passenger fully autonomous air taxis that could carry passengers on short trips throughout cities without a human pilot on board.

Side effects of highly automated systems

One problem that arises in planes that have highly automated systems is that the pilots can lose track of what’s actually happening. This is presumably what happened in 2009 when Air France Flight 447 crashed in the Atlantic Ocean on its way from Rio de Janeiro to Paris. Airspeed sensors failed, causing the autopilot to turn itself off, but the pilots weren’t able to figure out what was happening or how to recover.

Some experts also believe that a pilot’s lack of awareness was a factor in the 2009 crash of Colgan Air Flight 3407 outside Buffalo, New York. While approaching the landing, pilots may have missed the fact that the plane was slowing down too much, and again didn’t realize what was happening until it was too late.

Pilots who spend a lot of time in the cockpits of planes with highly automated systems may also lose some sharpness at flying planes on their own. The average pilot of a Boeing or Airbus commercial plane manually flies the plane for between three and six minutes of the whole flight – mostly around takeoff, the initial climb to about 1,500 feet, and then landing.

Industry supports automation

Airlines and manufacturers say they would save money and alleviate the current shortage of qualified pilots if they could reduce – or even eliminate – the number of pilots in the cockpit. Redesigning the front of the aircraft to be more aerodynamic could save even more money, if it didn’t need to have room for pilots, or could move them to another part of the aircraft.


Approximately 60 percent of passengers in our study said they were unwilling to fly on an autonomous commercial airliner.

Several companies are developing fully autonomous aircraft, including Amazon and UPS, which want to use them for deliveries. Boeing and Airbus are designing self-flying air taxis, which would be used for flights of about 30 minutes and carry between two and four passengers, and have tested prototypes. A company called Volocopter has been testing autonomous air taxis in Germany since 2016 and plans to conduct test flights in downtown Singapore this year. Ridesharing giant Uber, helicopter maker Bell and many other companies are also expressing interest in similar vehicles.

Consumer willingness to fly in autonomous aircraft

No matter how far industry progress goes, the key to autonomous flight will be its customers. We have been among the scholars who have studied how willing people are to fly in self-piloting aircraft.

Most of the results suggest that consumers don’t know how much of aviation is already automated. Survey participants tend to think pilots fly manually much more than they actually do.

In a study we conducted in 2014, people were much more willing to fly in planes with a human pilot in the cockpit – and quite unwilling to fly with either a human flying the plane remotely or aboard a fully autonomous plane.


Of course, some consumers are willing to fly in fully autonomous aircraft. In a larger study in 2018, just under 30 percent of U.S. consumers indicated they would be willing to fly on an autonomous airliner. These are the early adopters, who tend to be people who are familiar with automation and view flying on an autonomous airliner as a fun activity. People who are happy about the prospect of increased automation also tend to be more willing to fly on smaller autonomous air taxis.

However, most people are not ready to take fully autonomous commercial flights. Approximately 60 percent of passengers in our study said they were unwilling to fly on an autonomous commercial airliner.

We believe that lack of knowledge about automation is one of the critical factors here, and that the public would feel better about automated flying if they knew more about the benefits of automation – such as extremely reliable automated warning systems to prevent mid-air collisions and crashes.

What the future entails

Automation is not going away. In fact, by all accounts, it is becoming more prevalent in the cockpit. We fully expect autonomous flights to become commonplace in the next few decades.

Despite the notable crashes involving autopilots, the industry as a whole appears to believe that the automation of the future will be safe, or at least safer, for the flying public. Human error remains the most common cause of aircraft accidents, and people are prone to make the same mistakes again. They also may have trouble taking over from automation if the computers run into problems. Automated systems, however, can be reprogrammed not to make the same errors a second time.

Large commercial airplanes will likely go pilotless later than smaller private aircraft, because of the amount of time and money required to produce them. But smaller air taxis simply are not economically viable if they require a human pilot on board. As aviation automation engineering and technology continues to advance toward full automation, companies and customers alike will need to evaluate the risks and benefits, financially, in terms of safety – and emotionally.




This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license.
Read the original article.
The Conversation is a nonprofit organization working for the public good through fact and research based journalism.
The Conversation

The World’s Most Instagrammed Train Journeys

Written by Lennie Tommy - May 13, 2019
Original story first published at Canvas Holidays

While commuters may love to complain about them, train journeys aren’t all bad! In fact, there are many routes around the world which have become famous, with tourists viewing these journeys as holidays in themselves. But how do these compare to each other? Which train journeys are truly unmissable?
To find out, we’ve searched through Instagram, analysing over 275,000 photos to see which train journeys are filling up our feeds.
Here are the 20 most Instagrammed train journeys in the world.

1. The Venice Simplon-Orient-Express


One of the most famous train services in the world, it’s no surprise to see The Venice Simplon-Orient-Express come out on top of our ranking. While there are a number of different routes you can take, the most famous is the London to Venice journey. Take a step back in time into a world of decadence and luxury, enjoying five-star service aboard incredible 1920s art-deco carriages.
Feeling inspired? Book your holiday to Italy today.

2. The Bernina Express


Next on our list is the Bernina Express, arguably one of the most scenic train journeys in the world. Travelling between Chur in Switzerland and Tirano in Italy, the 122km journey takes you through the stunning Swiss Alps, along the Bernina line, which along with the Albula line was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2008.
Feeling inspired? Book your holiday to Switzerland today.

3. The Rocky Mountaineer


Take a thrilling ride through the Canadian Rockies on board The Rocky Mountaineer. Spread across two-days, all your travel takes place during daylight hours, meaning you can sit back and take in the magnificent scenery, viewed with ease through your glass-domed coaches.

4. The Trans-Siberian Railway


The Trans-Siberian Railway is not only the longest journey on our list, it’s the longest railway line in the world. Connecting Moscow with the Russian Far East in Vladivostok, the journey covers a whopping 9,289km over the course of 13 days.

5. The California Zephyr


Climb aboard the California Zephyr and enjoy a scenic trip across North America. You’ll start your journey in Chicago, travelling 3,924km west, climbing through the breath-taking Rockies and snow-capped Sierra Nevadas, before you arrive at your final stop in San Francisco.

6. The Glacier Express


The Glacier Express is often referred to as the slowest express train in the world. But don’t worry, what it lacks in speed it more than makes up for in amazing scenery. Passengers can enjoy an 8-hour journey through the Swiss Alps, covering 291km of tracks, passing through 91 tunnels and across 291 bridges.

7. The Coast Starlight


The Coast Starlight takes passengers on a spectacular journey down the West Coast of America, starting in Seattle, before passing through Portland, Sacramento and the San Francisco Bay Area, ending up in Los Angeles. From snow-covered mountain tops and rocky coastlines to huge, bustling metropolises, the West Coast has it all.

8. The Brocken Railway


The Brocken Railway is one of a trio of narrow-gauge tourist railways that transport passengers through the Harz National Park. On this particular route you’ll climb the 1,142m-high Brocken, the highest peak in northern Germany, enjoying panoramic views of the surrounding landscape.

Feeling inspired? Book your holiday to Germany today.

9. The Bergen Line


Linking Norway’s capital with its second largest city, the Bergen Line is the highest mainline railway in northern Europe. During its 7-hour journey, the train travels through the desolate Hardangervidda plateau, at an ear-popping 4,058ft above sea level, spending almost 60 miles above the tree line.

10. The Eastern & Oriental Express


Not to be confused with the Orient Express, the Eastern & Oriental Express takes passengers on a journey through Southeast Asia, from Singapore to Bangkok via Malaysia. Despite the vastly different locations, one thing this train does have in common with its similarly-named counterpart is a focus on glamour and luxury.

11. The Ghan


Starting in Adelaide and ending in Darwin, the Ghan takes passengers on an epic journey through the heart of the Australian outback. 2019 sees the Ghan celebrate its 90th anniversary, with various events planned throughout the year, both on and off the tracks.

12. The West Highland Line


Travelling along the West Highland Line, the Jacobite Steam Train is probably best known for the role it plays in the Harry Potter movies – as the Hogwarts Express. However, this isn’t just for movie fans. On the journey from Glasgow to Mallaig, passengers can enjoy some of the most awe-inspiring scenery Scotland has to offer.

13. The Pride of Africa


Billed as the most luxurious train in the world, the Pride of Africa travels on various routes throughout South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Tanzania. Guests spend their time aboard stunning reconditioned wood-panelled coaches, enjoying fine dining and world-class service.

14. The Train to the Clouds


The Tren a las Nubes, or Train to the Clouds is a tourist train service in Argentina and certainly lives up to its name. Travelling through the Salta Province, from the Argentine Northwest to the Chilean border in the Andes mountain range, passengers are transported to an incredible 13,850ft above sea level – making this the fifth highest railway in the world.

15. The Caledonian Sleeper


One of only two sleeper trains currently in service in the United Kingdom, the Caledonian Sleeper is an overnight service that runs between London and Scotland. Passengers can fall asleep in the nation’s capital, before waking up in the stunning, remote Highlands.

16. The Hiram Bingham


The Hiram Bingham takes passengers on a luxury voyage into the heart of the Inca Empire, running from Cusco through to Machu Picchu. As you’re taken on your winding journey through Peru, sit back and relax with some gourmet food and drink, or sing along with the onboard musicians.

17. The Welsh Highland Railway


The Ffestiniog and West Highland Railways stretch for 64km through the stunning Snowdonia National Park, taking you on a magnificent journey through the scenic Welsh countryside. As one of the world’s oldest narrow-gauge railways, with almost 200 years of history, passengers can enjoy a trip back to the golden age of rail travel.

18. The Old Patagonian Express


The Old Patagonian Express is a narrow-guage railway in Patagonia, Argentina, with its nickname, La Trochita, translating to ‘little gauge’. Running through the foothills of the Andes, between Esquel and Nahuel Pan, the journey was made famous by the 1978 Paul Theroux book The Old Patagonian Express, which described it as the railway almost at the end of the world.

19.The Nordland Railway


Travelling between Trondheim and Bodø in Norway, the Nordland Line has been voted one of the most beautiful night train journeys in the world. The 729km journey takes you through a variety of different landscapes, but the highlight has to be the Saltfjellet mountain range, where you cross the Arctic Circle.

20. The Little Yellow Train

 
The Little Yellow Train takes you on a magical trip through the French Pyrenees, starting in Villefranche-de-Conflent and ending in Latour-de-Carol-Enveitg. Along the way, passengers can witness breath-taking scenery, from winding rivers and lush forests to huge bridges and viaducts. 

Feeling inspired? Book your holiday to France today.

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