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Australians don’t want single-pilot flights, says union

written by Jake Nelson | November 10, 2023

Image: Rafael Cosquiere/Pexels

Australians are overwhelmingly against single-pilot commercial flights, according to a survey conducted by a major pilots’ union.

The Australian and International Pilots Association (AIPA) has released data from a Redbridge poll of 1,022 adults showing that 89 per cent would feel less safe boarding a flight with only a single pilot at the controls. 65 per cent said they would feel “much less safe”, and 24 per cent “a little less safe”.

Eighty-eight per cent of respondents said airlines should rule out flying commercially with only one pilot, with the same number believing that the government should make it mandatory for all flights operating commercially within Australian airspace to have at least two pilots on the flight deck at all times. Eighty-three per cent said they would be more reluctant to book a ticket if they knew only one pilot would be at the controls.

“Flying is the safest mode of transport because airlines have redundancy in the form of at least two engines, electric and hydraulic systems, flight management computers, and, crucially, two pilots,” said AIPA president Captain Tony Lucas.

“A single pilot could become incapacitated, fatigued or simply overwhelmed in an emergency at 35,000 ft and 950 km/h. Reducing the number of pilots required on the flight deck undoubtedly reduces safety margins for the passengers, crew and the wider public.


“This polling shows the public understands that, and therefore any airline which decides to adopt reduced-crew operations stands to lose customers to competitors offering a safer trip. The only safe way to fly is with at least two well-trained and well-rested pilots at the controls at all times.”

Airlines including Lufthansa and Cathay Pacific have been looking into reduced-pilot operations, with the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) also examining the regulatory changes that would be necessary.

The idea is fiercely opposed by pilots’ unions around the world citing safety reasons, with the International Federation of Air Line Pilots’ Associations (IFALPA) saying “an aggressive corporate-led lobbying campaign was targeting regulators around the world” to push for single-pilot flights.

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Comment (1)

  • Don’t like the idea of single pilot ops either, even if it’s only during the cruise phase initially, which I think the media keeps forgetting to tell the public in all their news stories, and thank god for that.
    But at the end, if some companies do it, others don’t and there a reasonable price difference, the market powers will decide. And we know how that goes most of the time!!!

    Flying is almost seen as part of public transport today, and people don’t know if the train/subway/tram they are using has a driver or not. Not until something goes wrong.
    The same will most likely be the case once single pilot is introduced

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