The development of pilot less passenger aircraft could be worth 35 billion US dollars (over R 470 billion ) to the aviation industry and cut fares for passengers, according to research.
Analysis by investment bank UBS found that technology to enable remotely controlled planes carrying people and cargo could appear by 2025.Almost three-quarters of the economic benefit would be in airlines reducing the cost of employing pilots, the study found.
Safety would also be boosted as the potential for pilot error or illness would be removed, the report said.
In the US, passengers could benefit by air fares being cut by as much as 11 per cent, UBS said.
But a poll of 1,602 UK consumers found that more than half (53 per cent) said they are unlikely to travel on such an aircraft.
A wider survey including respondents in the US, France, Germany and Australia found that this figure dropped to 41 per cent and 40 per cent for those aged 18-24 and 25-34 respectively.
Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary said in 2010 he would seek permission to only use one pilot per flight, claiming the second is unnecessary and only there to 'make sure the first fella doesn't fall asleep and knock over one of the computer controls'.
UBS predicted that the cargo industry could be the first to use flights without a pilot.
Its report said: 'Unlike passengers, cargo is not concerned with the status of its pilots (human or autonomous). For this reason, pilotless cargo aircraft may happen more swiftly than for passengers.'
However, a serving long-haul airline captain based in the UK told MailOnline Travel that the technology is a long way off being ready.
He said: 'Boeing and Airbus are both cooperating with US FAA and European Aviation Safety Agency on some pilotless aircraft studies but as the current generation of airliners - B787, A350 - are new into service I cannot see this as a reality for at least 20/25 years.
'The technology isn't mature enough and the real time decision making required to pilot a jet aircraft across the globe still requires two pilots at present. Going down to one pilot will be a big step and require a lot more automation than currently available.
'For example, the aircraft would need to be able to initiate an emergency descent in the event of a decompression in the cabin if the (solo) pilot happened to be in the toilet at the time it happened. Giving the machine that level of autonomous thinking requires many layers of safety to be built in, just in case it chooses to do it by accident or in the wrong way or at the wrong time.
'Pilotless planes will evolve, but not in this pilot's lifetime.'
Source: Daily Mail