Airbus Successfully Tests Self-Flying Plane

Visions of the Wright Brothers continues to soar.

A 2019 survey of 22,000 travelers found that 70 percent of them would feel ready to fly in a fully autonomous aircraft, but is the general population prepared for this innovation? Well, the future of air travel and pilotless flights may be nearer than we think thanks to efforts by Airbus, a French airplane manufacturer.

On July 27, Airbus completed a series of tests using a self-flying A350-1000 XWB jet with no pilot. There are several portions of the flight process that have been performed on autopilot for years, but Airbus’ recent developments include taxiing, taking off, and landing without a pilot.

<strong><span class=has inline color has luminous vivid orange color>Aviation pioneers Orville and Wilbur Wright<span><strong>

Last week’s successes come after test flights first began in December 2019. During these initial tests, pilots lined up the self-flying plane on the runway and allowed it to take off on its own. The aircraft completed eight successful takeoffs. Further tests were also completed in June during which the self-flying jet completed several phases of the flight, including transitions, all while in the air. As a precaution, pilots were on board during all of these test flights. However, the services of the pilots were not needed to complete the flights.

The research and efforts to create self-flying planes began in 2018, although the idea itself has been around for decades. Known as the Autonomous Taxi, Take-off, and Landing (ATTOL) project, the main goal is not to eliminate the need for pilots. According to reporting in TravelPulse, Airbus aims to “improve flight operations and overall aircraft performance.”
Automating as much of the experience as possible also allows pilots to focus on “strategic decision-making and mission management.”

Despite these advancements, don’t expect to see fully autonomous flights taking off anytime soon. Current air traffic laws in most countries require the “four-eye rule” in the cockpit, meaning that two pilots must be present at all times. If one needs a break, then the other pilot must be ready to take his or her place.

Guest Writer: Jessica Poitevien

Jessica is a freelance journalist on a quest to see and experience everything our gorgeous planet has to offer and to share her experiences with her fellow travelers. Jessica has written for several world-class Travel Magazines. Email Jessica at

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