The Germanwings suicidal/homicidal depressed and narcissistic pilot is providing the impetus to speed up development of remote and robotic ways to control an airplane. Already pilots spend very little time controlling an airplane manually. Boeing pilots work twice as hard as Airbus pilots. Does that make the Airbus pilots lazy? Or the Boeing pilots overworked?
In a recent survey of airline pilots, those operating Boeing 777s reported that they spent just seven minutes manually piloting their planes in a typical flight. Pilots operating Airbus planes spent half that time.
Here’s the thing with autopilots. First, they are far more than just autopilots- they are complex flight management systems (or FMS) that control the aircraft and its navigation.
And the reason pilots let the FMS do the flying is twofold. First, the FMS tends to actually fly the plane better, more precisely. Second, it frees the crew to concentrate their attention on all the other things that have to be done to get you safely to your destination.