Embraer has unveiled a concept for a futuristic pilotless business jet, which aims to replace a cockpit with a passenger lounge.
The concept, which was revealed at the 2022 NBAA Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition (NBAA-BACE), envisions an aircraft that runs entirely on sustainable fuel and employs extensive use of artificial intelligence (AI).
“The concept presented was a fully autonomous aircraft that will eliminate the need for a cockpit and enable new cabin configurations, such as a forward lounge. Sustainability would be in the DNA of the airplane with a green technology propulsion system based either on SAF, electrification and/or hydrogen,” an Embraer spokesperson said in an emailed statement to AeroTime.
The aircraft is a medium-sized executive jet, broadly similar to Embraer’s Praetor series. However, the aircraft has a number of peculiar features, including a V-tail, rarely seen on business jets, and a unique engine configuration with two turbofans in the tail.
The engines appear to be situated above one another, rather than on either side of the rear fuselage, and have three air intakes: one on the top and two on the sides of the fuselage.
According to a Twitter post published by Embraer, the aircraft will also feature three cabin zones. One of these zones was shown in photographs attached to the tweet and shows a spacious lounge situated at the front of the aircraft. The cabin is also pictured as featuring windows overlaid with touchscreens.
At today’s #NBAA2022 Media Breakfast, #Embraer presented our vision for the future of private air travel with an inspiring concept that proposes a fully autonomous, three-cabin-zone medium cabin jet that would operate on 100% sustainable propulsion. #NBAA22 #WeAreEmbraer pic.twitter.com/fcKsvu5cAi— Embraer (@embraer) October 18, 2022
The announcement follows on from Embraer’s previous concept of a family of next generation regional aircraft intended to run entirely on sustainable fuel.
Revealed in 2021, the hydrogen- and electric-powered aircraft are expected to supplement Embraer’s lineup by 2030.
“As this is a concept, no performance numbers have been defined. There are no commitments from Embraer Executive Jets to develop and manufacture the presented airplane. Embraer will rather use it as an inspiration to investigate and develop new technologies and new solutions for the business aviation of the future,” Embraer’s statement explained.
While the idea of AI-piloted passenger aircraft is not a new one, it is bound to encounter ample resistance in the commercial market where the idea of a single-pilot cockpit is heavily debated.