- Advancing technology has led to many developments including in industries like aviation.
- Further integrating technology such as voice control programming in autopilot is another step toward the future.
- It will help pilots focus better, facilitate communication between pilots and controllers with language differences, and reduce radio traffic.
- Possible future implementation of this technology can include other vehicles from spaceships to cars to vessels.
Technology has changed the way we interact, shop, travel, make decisions, and think. Air travel for the masses seemed like a dream not so long ago. Yet today, aviation is a thriving industry that continues to develop, and it seems vacations in space are not such a far-fetched dream.
While modern aircraft are already equipped with the most sophisticated and advanced autopilot in the industry, there is always room for improvement. Armando Poeta, speaking from his experience of 19 years in the Italian Air Force, pointed out that the limit to the autopilot function was that the pilot needs to go “head down” to program it. During high workload environments — something Armando Poeta is quite familiar with — such as when flying below 10,000 ft, changes in the flight plan — for example, receiving a different runway to land, may require both pilots to divert their attention from making sure of no other traffic to look inside and program the autopilot and/or read the charts.
Voice-Controlled Autopilot Programming
According to Armando Poeta, a simple solution would be to implement the existing modern technology which allows us to control our personal devices through voice commands, like Siri, and integrate it with the autopilot and/or flight controls.
The idea of voice-controlled aircrafts is not too foreign and has been considered by many industry leaders. Armado Poeta thinks the idea is gaining popularity because of its simplicity and the ease with which it can be turned into reality.
So how would it actually work? The Voice Control and Command (VCC) software, when activated, would run in the background of the autopilot function in aviation and monitor radio conversation. The software would be programmed to recognize when Air Traffic Control (ATC) contacts a specific airplane and gives her a particular command, such as “Delta 123 climb and maintain FL 230”. With this set and structured command, Armando Poeta believes the system would be able to preprogram the autopilot command and wait for the pilot to verify them and give their consent to execute or not.
Using Technology To Bridge Language Barriers
But what about non-English speaking areas? Armando Poeta recognizes that in places where English is not the first language, it may be difficult for AI to understand what the instruction of the controller may be. The solution could be providing a data function used to type commands to a plane and send it to them via a data link. The system can then interpret this command and use it to program the autopilot. Again, while the system would program according to the command received, it would only be executed after verification by the pilot to minimize error.
The technology can be further integrated to allow the pilot to do the same from the inside of the plane by pushing a specific, dedicated button to activate the system and give commands to the plane without getting too distracted from monitoring external factors. The command could go something along the lines, of Delta 123 load ILS 24L at LAX, XYZ transition. Once the system programs the same, the pilot would activate the controls after verifying.
Safer and Easier Flying
Armando Poeta comments on how this kind of technology can also be very useful to reduce radio chatter for routine conversation that can make a frequency busy and unavailable to an aircraft in actual distress. It could also reduce miscommunication between the pilot and ATC who speak different languages, or where the radio coverage is not optimal.
As someone who has been flying since they were 16, Armando Poeta believes that helping the pilots to look outside and keep their hands on the controls rather than on managing the autopilot and Flight Management System (FMS) makes the job easier and safer for them
Possible future implementation of this technology can include other vehicles from spaceships to cars to vessels.
Armando Poeta Bio:
Armando Poeta was born in Bari, Italy. He is passionate about his work at Boeing, an organization he joined in 2019. Before joining Boeing, he was a cadet at the Italian Air Force Academy and went on to become a military navigator trained in the USA.
Armando Poeta served in the Italian Air Force for 19 years after which he moved to the US, where he continued his journey as a commercial pilot working for companies such as Republic Airline, Compass Airline, American Airlines etc. He is a certified FAA commercial pilot license and a Certified Flight Instructor license. Armando Poeta holds a BS in Physics with a Major in Astrophysics, as well as a master’s degree in systems engineering from Missouri University of Science and Technology.