Simplified Vehicle Operations (SVO) is one of the numerous near-term technologies that offer the thrilling potential for aviation. SVO will be a significant enable of Urban Air Mobility (UAM). The most extended solution of UAM is based on fuel helicopters that are controlled manually by experienced pilots, which is a proven system that effectively carries people and goods to short/medium distances. However, there are many organizations looking through the new future for urban transport and an electric Vertical Take-Off and Landing (eVTOL) aircraft that can help us move faster with autonomous flight capabilities.
Why Automation Will Make Aircraft Flying Safer and Simpler
SVO technology is not new to aviation. SVO is about utilizing technologies that can be more reliable and perform better than pilots. It is a framework that allows technology and automation to either reduce or replace the pilot training required to proficiently and safely operate an aircraft. Simplified vehicle operations go beyond just avionics to encompass navigation and communications, all with the primary purpose of reducing the workload of pilots.
Not bothering the pilot of some regular flying tasks can improve performance, SVO technology can also increase safety by including features that include controlling takeoff and landing speed at various levels and anti-stall measures. A lot of systems already provide such tech but only serve as alerts and nudges to pilots rather than taking action.
What Are the Pitfalls of Automation?
On its own, easier-to-fly aircraft does not reduce the extent of knowledge and trained skills that are required by a pilot to operate an aircraft safely. On today’s aircraft, the automation systems have generally been certified with the notion that, if the automated system fails, the pilot can take over the aircraft manually. This requires pilots to be as knowledgeable and skillful as ever and be able to instantly grasp automation failure and respond swiftly and appropriately.
The issue is that humans are not particularly good at managing automation. According to a technical report from the MITRE Corporation on automation-related accidents in the aviation industry, it identifies problems that include skill degradation, poor vigilance, complacency, and trust in automation. The report implies that experts agree that pilots are cognitively and perceptually not suited to monitor automation for an extended period, and errors associated with monitoring are likely.
What Are The Orders of Magnitude?
Generally, the potential benefits of simplified vehicle operation fall into 2 categories: economics and safety. eVTOL aircraft, unlike conventional aircraft, have several distributed propellers and electric motors, which are too much for a pilot to manage without the assistance of a fly-by-wire flight control system. And on the economic side, pilots are not optimal for UAM business cases. It was estimated that the cost per available seat mile (CASM) of a piloted UAM flight is almost twice the cost of an autonomous flight.
The economic instance is the pilot that will validate the engineering investments in simplified vehicle operation, but reducing the training cost and pilots’ salaries is not a strategy that has tended to provide safety advantages in the past. Nonetheless, it is believed that SVO will save lives and is the only approach that can help deliver significant and lasting improvements in aviation safety.
For more information about Simplified Vehicle Operations (SVO), contact TEXAS UASWERX today.
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