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* This article first appeared in our LinkedIn Newsletter on Reduced Crew Operations

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"Single Pilot Operations will never happen"

"Single Pilot Operations will never happen" is a comment you can often come across on social media. However, we regret to be the ones bursting the bubble but commercial flights with just one pilot at the controls might become a reality as early as 2027!

So, welcome to the very first newsletter on Reduced Crew Operations*.

This newsletter aims to keep all pilots, controllers, crew, researchers, aviation experts, and friends updated on the regulatory developments regarding eMCO - Extended Minimum Crew Operations. This concept is currently under discussion at EASA and poses an imminent threat to our industry!

Let's begin by clarifying the definitions:

  • RCO: Reduced Crew Operations
  • eMCO: Extended Minimum Crew Operations
  • SIPO: Single Pilot Operations
Reduced Crew Operations explained

Airbus and Dassault

have been advocating for one-pilot operations during long-haul flights, known as eMCO. The idea is that only one pilot would be required to remain at the controls of the aircraft for extended periods during the cruise phase, while the second pilot would be resting in an area outside of the flight deck.

Under the guise of fostering innovation and facilitating the development of new technologies, EASA - European Union Aviation Safety Agency has deemed this proposal worthy of examination and has initiated a work stream. This work stream includes preliminary research into the scope of eMCO, an assessment of hazards, risks, and mitigations, and ultimately a review of the existing regulations to accommodate eMCO.

Currently, the process has reached the phase of preliminary research, and there is an ongoing research project looking into the hazards and risks of eMCO, as well as potential mitigations. If this research activity does not identify any specific red flags or safety objections, the rulemaking and certification phase of the eMCO process should encounter no major difficulties in completion...

There are multiple concerns that worry us and we have extensively written about them. These concerns range from safety and security issues related to eMCO to the flawed process followed by the Agency, and ultimately questioning the problem eMCO aims to solve.

In collaboration with our colleagues at IFALPA & ALPA, we have launched a joint campaign against eMCO. We firmly believe that eMCO is a gamble with safety, and we are determined to do whatever is necessary to stop this dangerous concept and preserve the highest possible level of safety in aviation transport.

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