Drones: Is that the future of Aviation?

Many people seem to be very worried about drones, its use, possibilities and risks. Certainly a drone, since nobody is inside, can be little enough to pass without being seen. It can be used -actually it is- as a deadly weapon, targetting preys from places impossible for a manned plane. Some people start to speak about privacy since surveillance tools as little as a bird can be placed everywhere and, beyond privacy, it is hard to protect anyone from a weapon that can be self-destroyed and little enough to access even to the most protected places or people.

However, there are other fields where the discussion is not so alive:

1- A drone can be hacked: When authorities say that the next big threat after 11S can come from Internet, it is not a joke. If someone can enter systems where electricity, water supply, traffic or many others are controlled, the results could be catastrophic. If a system so protected as a military plane is supposed to be…do safe systems exist? Probably not. Certainly a manned plane could be hacked too but, at least, in many of them the human operator could keep the control. If the operators does not have a direct access since it comes through a communication line, that is harder.

2- Problems with traffic control: This is a problem that is happening once and again. Near misses are happening in many places putting at risk civilian airplanes loaded with passengers. In some cases, it has been found that the pilots did not have the required license, something harder to control since the pilot can be anywhere and there is not a checkpoint like it can be at any airport.

That is happening right now but…what about the future? Nowadays, nobody speaks openly about drones carrying passengers but they could be used for cargo transportation. If so, that should mean a much bigger number of drones and, hence, the pointed risks could grow at an unacceptable level.

And drones for passenger transportation? At the present moment, no one seems to think seriously about it. I think there are many good reasons to avoid it but, nowadays, the discussion should be sterile. If we think about things that are feasible already, we have enough to be worried. We do not need to think about future for that.

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