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Pilotless Airliners Could Save Carriers Billions, UBS Says

But Surveys Show Majority Would Be Reluctant To Take An Pilotless Flight

Research conducted by Swiss Bank UBS indicates that pilotless airliners could improve safety while saving airlines as much as $35 billion per year, but that does not mean that they would be accepted by the public.

CNBC reports that, according to analysis published Monday by UBS: "Reducing the intervention of human pilots on aircraft could bring material economic benefits and improve safety."

The savings would come from reduced operating and training costs, lower fuel expenditures and insurance premiums. The note published by UBS said that the analysts believe the opportunity "would be dependent on the timing of the roll-out of pilotless planes and we think it is likely we would initially see cargo the first subsector to adopt new related technologies, with the number of pilots falling from two to one and eventually from one to none."

But public acceptance might be a considerable hurdle. UBS Evidence Lab conducted a survey of 8,000 people asking about the possibility of pilotless airliners. Of those, 54 percent said they would be "reluctant" to take a pilotless flight, with only 17 percent saying they would "welcome the opportunity."

Younger people seemed to be more accepting of the idea of pilotless planes, according to the data. UBS added that "acceptance should grow with time."

(Image from file)

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