Dassault Aviation has revealed a long-term effort to develop an autonomous co-pilot for future business jets, says chairman and chief executive Eric Trappier.

International aviation regulations require at least two pilots for aircraft of any size carrying any more than nine paying passengers, but several manufacturers are preparing for the day when that rule is relaxed as the capabilities and reliability of artificial intelligence applications mature.

In remarks during a 9 October press briefing, Trappier says Dassault is committed to being ready to make that transition, if it comes.

As a manufacturer of business and military jets, Dassault is in a unique position among traditional business aviation aircraft developers. The French company is currently participating in three major combat UAV development programmes with several European partners. France is also partnered with Germany to develop a future replacement for the Rafale and Eurofighter Typhoon fighters, which, although manned, are likely to feature advanced artificial intelligence applications.

Trappier also acknowledges that the company is working on an undisclosed business jet development programme. But the technology for the autonomous co-pilot is not timed to transition into a product in the short-term.

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