DUBAI, UAE — In a recent statement, Tim Clark, the President of Emirates Airline, expressed his opinion that the future of passenger planes could potentially involve artificial intelligence (AI) serving as co-pilots, even suggesting the possibility of aircraft with only one pilot. 

Clark acknowledged that passengers might find the presence of two human pilots in the cockpit reassuring, but insisted that fully automated flight technology is progressing rapidly and is the inevitable path for the aviation industry.

Clark is convinced that the ongoing advancement of AI technology could transition airplanes from relying on autopilot to being controlled by AI pilots, which could offer improved precision and safety. This could eventually lead to a dramatic shift from having two human pilots in the cockpit to none at all in the future of air travel. Despite this, Clark maintains the stance that there will always be a need for someone on the flight deck.

Even though Clark advocates for the development of AI pilots, he underscores the vital skills brought to the table by trained human pilots in guaranteeing the safe transportation of passengers, crew, and cargo. "Pilots are not just airplane drivers; they are highly trained professionals who serve as navigators, engineers, technicians, weather specialists, and customer service managers," he stated.

Besides piloting the plane, pilots shoulder a variety of responsibilities that involve interacting with a range of people such as aircrew, ground crew, cabin crew, air traffic controllers, and passengers. Effective communication is paramount for pilots, both in aviation-specific jargon, like engaging with air traffic control via radio communication, and on a more personal level.

According to Clark, being in tune with the needs of the crew and assisting them in managing passengers is a crucial aspect of the job. Pilots operate with numerous different crews and must quickly build a rapport with other flight and cabin crew members. They have to relay information to passengers and assume responsibility for their safety, as well as for all crew on board.

In conclusion, Clark stated that while fully automated flights are feasible, there will always be a demand for skilled pilots in the cockpit. While the reality of AI pilots might be just around the corner, trained pilots continue to be an essential factor in ensuring the safe operation of any passenger flight.