The path towards vehicle autonomy in commercial air operations creates a trove of interesting problems, some of which may not be fully well-understood by new entrants in the business. In particular, there is the potential to misunderstand the constraints associated with introducing new vehicle operations under the purview of the Federal Aviation Administration and other historically significant institutions in charge of commercial air transportation safety. In this paper, we remind the reader of the various notions of safety captured by certification authorities and the evolution of safety in commercial air transportation over the years. We then informally explore possible paths from today’s to desired levels of aircraft autonomy, which we define in this paper, and in this paper only, as "removing the pilot from the cockpit".
Bibliographical noteKAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2022-11-08
Acknowledgements: This research was funded by King Abdullah University of Science and Technology’s baseline support. Eric Feron would like to most sincerely thank Dr. Vitali Volovoi for introducing him early on to the concepts of ”Target Level of Safety” and ”Equivalent Level of Safety” during enjoyable and fruitful collaborations at the Georgia Institute of Technology, USA.