Given the complicated stakeholder relationship for the single pilot cockpit system, a win-win will not be established by selecting a particular alternative, rather it will be an outcome of a long-term “implementation roadmap” that will give each stakeholder time to evaluate and assimilate to change. Figure shows a notional roadmap for implementing and evaluating the single pilot cockpit system.
Figure : Notional Win-Win single pilot cockpit system implementation roadmap
In the win-win scenario, the design alternative will be integrated into the baseline two pilot cockpit. After several years of evaluation and redesign, the two pilot cockpit will be reduced to the single pilot cockpit. This ensures there is ample time for pilot training, ATC coordination, FAA evaluation, and aviation industry evaluation. A summary of how each major stakeholder group benefits in the win-win scenario is given in Table .
Allows regulatory agencies to observe the effects of implementing a SPC and collect reliability data without the worry of deploying an uncertain system and dealing with damage control.
Fear of labor downsizing
The resultant decline in pilot labor demand can be spread out over several decades, meaning that job stability can remain relatively stable, and pilots can adapt to using a new system. A SPC system can also potentially reduce a pilot’s workload.
Fear of boarding a plane being flown by a single pilot
Fliers with concerns about the safety of a SPC will be allowed more time to acclimate to the new technology. Also, the majority viewpoint will shift due to changing generational attitudes regarding automation in general.
Fear of costs/changes needed to adapt to new system
Airports and aircraft manufacturers will be given additional time to adapt their operations, products, and business plans to the current phase of SPC deployment, keeping them from wasting resources on developing unutilized solutions.
Commercial aviation is projected to have increasing operating expense from 2013 to 2022 at an increase of 30% based on an exponential regression fit. Growing operating expenses are presumed to relate to growing demand for air transportation. Figure shows the projected demand in terms of yearly revenue passenger miles. Although passenger transportation is not the only demand data point, is arguably the largest.
Figure : Projected yearly operating expense based on a regression fit. Note: values are inflation adjusted to 2012 dollars and expenses through 2022 are in present value.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has predicted a six percent growth in demand for pilots between 2012 and 2022 . Unfortunately, due to factors such as a change in flight hour requirements for co-pilots, increased mandatory rest time, and a decreased retirement age from 65 to 60 there is an increasing gap between forecasted supply and demand. Figure graphically depict the historic pilot labor force with the projected labor supply and demand. A single pilot cockpit system may help reduce the impact to a projected pilot shortage and bring some stability for future labor supply.
The projected shortage of pilots will ultimately cost the airlines in terms of lost flight hours and increasing pilot pay. As the number of available pilots decreases, the cost for pilot labor increases and consequently, increases the overall operating expense. A single pilot cockpit could potentially mitigate the effects of a pilot labor shortage by reducing crew requirements allowing the existing labor pool to be spread more evenly.
Figure : Projected pilot labor growth based on FAA Forecast 2013-2033 pilot growth rate.
Increasing demand for air transportation, a projected pilot labor shortage, and rising operating expenses will continue to negatively impact commercial aviation’s ability to attain stable financial performance. Commercial aviation needs to implement systems that will reduce operating expense so that operating revenue will be larger than operating expense.
Figure : Operating revenue to expense ratio from 1990-2012. Assume red dotted line is the profitability target fixed based on historical levels.
The GAP in Figure graphically describes the problem: operating revenue as a ratio to operating expense is smaller or close to one over the past twelve years. Assuming that the ratio is an indicator of profitability, bringing the ratio back to the levels of the 1990’s would produce a financially stable industry. Measures that reduce targeted portions of operating expense, i.e. pilot labor, would have an impact on decreasing the gap. Referring back to Error: Reference source not found, it is shown that operating expense on items like fuel and pilot labor are two significant line items that account for a large portion of yearly operating expenses. If a two pilot cockpit is reduced to a one pilot cockpit via automation, the total operating expense of air carriers can be reduced and increase operating revenue. This reduction would impact commercial aviation’s ability to reduce long term operating expense and attain less extreme deviations in profitability.