Three aircraft in the Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) pipeline promise to change some assumptions we have about air travel--the assumption that there's a pilot in the cockpit, for instance.
In the works is an unmanned cargo plane with a 30-ton payload capacity. IAI could have gone for an unmanned passenger jet--the technology does exists--but "the world is not yet ready to be flown without a pilot at the stick," Shlomo Tsach, IAI director of flight sciences, told the Jerusalem Post. "A psychological obstacle needs to be overcome before people are willing to fly in unmanned planes." Ya think?
No such reservations however, when it comes to consigning innocent cargo to the uncharted skies of unmanned delivery. While most people admit they would not get on an unmanned flight themselves, they had no problem sending their cargo that way, according a Boeing poll quoted by the Post.
The Israelis have two other projects they say will "revolutionize civilian and military aviation": an eco-friendly inter-city commuter aircraft powered by fuel cells and a drone called the Sun Sailor, a solar-powered UAV that weighs 4 kilograms and is capable of carrying a small digital camera or other detection equipment. The latter should be able to stay up indefinitely because it has no need to refuel. The 10-seat commuter, which runs on fuel cells, is supposed to reduce noise and exhaust pollution, plus it's expected to be a stepping stone for the use of alternative energy in other aircraft.
That's not the end of it. We'll all have a chance to fly pilot-less soon enough, according to Tsach. "Once the new cargo plane takes to the air, it will only be a matter of time before there also are unmanned passenger planes." Quick! Drop a dime to the Airline Pilots Association.