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Heathrow bans all human pilots

Peak airspace capacity relies on fully autonomous aircraft for holiday season
Dateline: 26 July 2027

As we approach the UK summer holidays and air traffic rises to its seasonal peak over South East England, aviation authorities have announced that only autopiloted flights will be allowed at airports servicing London and surrounds.

“Automated take-off and landing is just so much more efficient,” says Juliet Kennedy, Ops chief for NATS. “Humans can’t deal with the pressure of 14-second gaps between planes!”

Without this blanket ban on human-piloted craft and reliance on digital systems, the area would suffer countless delays, which have a knock-on rolling effect, causing chaos for holiday travellers and business people alike. Airlines that still have older, manual planes will simply have their landing slots cancelled for the duration.

Almost all modern jets have been upgraded for fully automated flights, enhanced with the latest artificial intelligence systems that take security and weather into account in real time. Like driverless cars, these systems are continuously communicating between each other and the digital control towers on the ground. It has become too complex for humans to get involved.

Since drones and ‘flying taxis’ have been integrated into the city airspace, it has become critical to utilize swarm technology to avoid collisions and maximize air traffic capacity. Human pilots are only allowed on restricted routes.

“We expect some passenger anxiety,” says a major airline executive, who did not want to be named, “but the fact is 99% of flights are fully automated already, even if you don’t know it!”

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