Flying without pilots - The challenge of insuring automated flights uncovered


The challenge facing the insurance profession of assisting the airline industry with getting automated flights off the ground is uncovered in a 24-page report produced for the Society of Underwriting Professionals.

The report concludes aircraft would be safer without pilots, but underwriters will need extensive operational and security details on the technology required to fly this way if airlines are to get the insurance required to allow automated flights up in the air.

The author of the report Suzanne Bazire, a Chartered insurance broker for general aviation and fully trained commercial pilot, has studied the history of piloted flights, auto-pilot and automated flight technology.

She concluded while fully automated airlines may still be decades away, automated air-taxis will be a reality in a matter of years and underwriters will need to get to grips quickly with key considerations, such as what cyber protection is in place for automated flights.

Ms Bazire, who is an insurance broker for aircraft operations with less than 60 passengers per flight, predicted while underwriters unpick and assess the risks of automated flight technology, premiums were likely to increase initially.

She said: “Despite the intense training and constant assessments ensuring as high standards as possible, as people we are fallible and capable of inconsistencies and errors.

“While programme engineers are still capable of making mistakes, possible crises can be considered, tested and double checked in advance. Whilst there will always be anomalies, advancements in AI will allow computers to learn and apply previous experience to new situations.

“There will be challenges in adoption by users, though the current generation of young adults has grown up with technology in their lives on a scale never seen before and it is logical to see how they would embrace aircraft automation.

“As with all developments, adoption increases as the technology becomes more visible and with an expected safety record improvement, more sceptical users could be converted.

“Human pilots are a scarcening, expensive resource responsible for 70 to 80 per cent of aircraft accidents and I believe that taking the human pilot out of an aircraft would improve aircraft safety and consequentially, underwriters’ loss ratios.”

To download the 24-page report produced for the Society of Underwriting Professionals CLICK HERE

Authored by The Chartered Insurance Institute


About CII

The Chartered Insurance Institute (CII), the leading professional body for the global financial services profession, exists to promote higher standards of integrity, technical competence and business capability.

With over 115,000 members in more than 150 countries, the CII is the world's largest professional body dedicated to insurance and financial services.

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