An online UK travel agency has recently performed a piece of research that demonstrated 50% of Britons believe that commercial pilots will be rendered obsolete by 2025. They feel that, by then, airplanes will have self-flying technology. This is an interesting development, as the first self-driving cars are also being tested right now. Perhaps most interestingly, however, is that while 50% said that commercial pilots would be obsolete by 2025, only around 3% also felt that they would feel safe on a plane without a pilot.

An online UK travel agency has recently conducted a poll that demonstrated that more than half of all people in Britain believe that, by 2025, commercial pilots will have been made obsolete as there will be self-flying aircrafts. However, almost all Britons also state that they would not feel safe as a passenger on a plane without a pilot.

The research was conducted by Sunshine, an online travel agency based in the UK. They are currently undertaking various pieces of research on how Britons view holidays and flights in particular. For this poll, some 2,744 people were surveyed. They were all over 18 and were all residents of the UK. The goal was to find out what the future of air travel looks like for the average person.

One of the questions was “How long do you think it will be before all commercial flights are self-flying, as opposed to manned by pilots?”. Respondents could choose a “never” option, but only 4% actually did this. By contrast, 52% of people believed that this would happen by 2025, rending commercial airline pilots obsolete by that time.

The poll also asked respondents if they would feel should they be a passenger on a self-flying plane that was completely pilotless. Only 3% of respondents would feel safe. 91% stated that they would not feel safe. The remaining 6% were unsure.

Respondents were then asked how they would feel if the aircraft was piloted remotely. This means that a pilot would operate the craft in the same was as how drones are operated today, landing and taking off the plane with a remote control. 78% would feel “safer” compared to a completely self-flying plane. However, it is not clear whether these feelings of being “safer” would be sufficient to make people actually board this plane, rather that they would feel less worried and uncomfortable than had they been in a completely self-flying craft.

Another interesting element of the study was that 65% of people felt that most airport staff would be completely obsolete in the next decade, having been replaced by gadgets and machines. We currently already see these at check-in desks, but people felt it would be extended to passport control and security points.

“With self-driving cars not far from being a widespread possibility on our roads and unmanned drones already a reality, it makes sense to think that the same could happen in our commercial airspace and beyond,” says Chris Clarkson, Managing Director of “Pilots already have the help of autopilot during flights, so I’d say it’s not all that unrealistic to think that they may become redundant altogether in ten years or so.”

“However, judging by our results, a lot would have to be done to reassure people that it was a safe way to travel; because so many people at the moment would feel unsafe as a passenger on such a flight”, adds Chris Clarkson. “It’s hard to predict exactly when and how flights will change and the advancements we will witness, but it’s certainly one area to watch.”