Airlines want the next Boeing jet with one pilot in the cockpit

Chicago, Illinois - Research suggests the airlines would like to see the next Boeing aircraft to be designed for only one pilot in the cockpit.

Last year, rumors surged around that Boeing would announce its new aircraft program intended for MoM (Middle of Market) at the Paris Air Show this year.

But the manufacturer said early this year that it delayed the decision to 2020 whether to launch it or not.

Over the last few weeks, analysts at the U.S. investment bank Jefferies interviewed executives of the airlines and leasing companies to find out their expectations from a new Boeing aircraft.

The most prominent point of the interviews is that the executives, mostly think a new aircraft should be designed for only one pilot in the cockpit. A second pilot would monitor several aircraft on the ground.

With this, airlines plan to save half of the high salaries paid to pilots. Reducing the number of pilots could help the airline operators to save millions of dollars in terms of salaries and training costs.

According to the Jefferies' report released on May 19, the technology is still away for decades, but the study reveals Boeing customers would find it valuable when offered.

The most difficult part is to convince air travelers. Surveys suggest that most of the passengers are not ready to step on a plane that will be flown with only one pilot.

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But Charles Toups, Research and Technology Vice President of Boeing, thinks that flights conducted with one pilot would reasonably begin with freighter flights and be tested a couple of years before convincing the passengers about safety.

But a recent statement from Boeing shows the issue would stay as just a wish by Boeing customers.

“We remain focused on executing on our commitments, including evaluating the business case for the NMA. With that said, should we launch, the NMA flight deck is being designed for two pilots and we’ve been consistent that we don’t see NMA as a technology push airplane,” the manufacturer said.

Apart from the cockpit, airline executives want a new Boeing jet to have more flexibility in cabin configuration in terms of seating arrangement.

Boeing's NMA, which is dubbed as the Boeing 797 by industry experts, is predicted to feature between 200 and 250 seats with an extended flight range close to a wide-body jet.

A larger variant could accommodate up to 290 passengers.

The Boeing 797 is intended to serve on transatlantic routes, linking smaller cities in the United States with European cities without using main hubs such as New York JFK.

If launched next year, the 797 is not expected to enter service before 2025. It is also possible that Boeing may not launch a new aircraft program soon before regaining the trust of the industry after two deadly 737 MAX 8 crashes.