For the FAA, it's not the flying that keeps regular joes out of the sky. It's the landing and the navigating. Dealing with air traffic control is so attention consuming and complex that large planes require multiple crewmen, and single-pilot planes have significant restrictions and where and when they can fly.
However, a new flight management system (FMS) created by GE may automate so much of the navigation and landing that commercial flights could use only a single pilot, and the rest of us could get cleared to use flying cars.
The system, originally developed to operate military UAVs, recently began trials in the US. In the tests, GE operators give flight control instructions to the pilot, who then inputs the instructions into a computer, rather than adjusting the flight of the plane with joysticks and throttles. So far, the computer controlled plane has navigated air traffic situations more deftly than a human pilot could ever manage.
Eventually, air traffic controllers on the ground will input the instructions directly into the computer, freeing the pilot of nearly every task other than keeping the plane level and on time.
With so many difficult aspects of flying relegated to the computer, the skills needed to pilot an aircraft drop significantly. With fewer, and less difficult, tasks needed for flight, this FMS could lower the bar for safe flying to the point where it would require no more training than teenagers currently undergo in drivers ed.
Thank you GE. Connect this to the University of ND students and you can have remote piloting with planes that are automagically programmed to circle the airport until a drone driver is ready to bring it in for a landing.
As long as you can still stop at the local super-market on your way home from the office, I'm all for it.
The issue with flying cars has never been collisions with others, but collisions with the ground.
Imagine if every stalled car you saw was someones flying car and body smeared on the road.
Until we solve gravity, flight will be too dangerous for the population at large.
And since we all know computers never crash or malfunction, it will just HAVE to be safe! ;-)