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Britons believe all commercial planes could be pilotless by 2040

Britons believe all commercial planes could be pilotless by 2040

In light of the news that trials are beginning to discover if unmanned flights could occur in British airspace, a leading online independent travel agency has carried out a poll to find out what Britons think of the idea; particularly when it comes to the future of the aircrafts that fly them to and from their holiday destinations.

Following the news that trials are beginning to see if unmanned flights could be a possibility within British airspace for search-and-rescue trips and volcanic ash cloud detection operations, an online travel agency based in the UK has carried out research to see how Britons feel about the concept of pilotless planes.

The study, conducted by, involved questions about flying in general and pilotless planes. 1,029 people from the UK, each over the age of 18, took part in the study and answered questions about the concept and, realistically, when they thought it would be a possibility.

When asked, ‘Do you think all commercial planes will eventually become pilotless?’ just under half, 49%, said ‘yes’. These respondents were then asked by what year they thought this would be mostly likely to happen, to which the most common answer was ‘2040’.

All those taking part were asked if they would be happy to be a passenger on a pilotless plane, if it had been proved safe, to which just a third, 33%, said ‘yes’. These respondents, who had said ‘yes’, were asked what they thought the positives of pilotless commercial planes would be,  to which 52% said they thought tickets would be cheaper due to lower staff costs, such as that of the pilot. Just over a tenth, 12%, of those who would fly on a pilotless plane also felt there would be ‘less room for human error’.


On the contrary, 46% of those who would not fly on a pilotless plane, even if it had been proved safe, said they thought it would be more expensive; whilst 68% felt that a pilotless plane would leave more room for faults to occur.

When asked to state whether or not they were a confident passenger, 47% of those taking part in the study said they were, but 22% said ‘not at all’. The remaining 31% of respondents said they were confident passengers ‘most of the time’.

Chris Clarkson, co-founder of, spoke about the study:

“Pilotless planes are certainly the way that British air travel could be heading if these trials are successful, particularly due to the advances in technology that are happening presently. I’m not sure I’d feel all too confident on a pilotless plane, but that’s just how I feel right now.

“If commercial airlines started offering flights on pilotless planes, I’d probably feel different, as I would know that they had passed safety checks and years of testing and development. It’s certainly a long way off yet, but it’s definitely a possibility. Who knows what air travel of the future will be like!”