Unoccupied flying vehicles have had a huge impact on the modern battlefield. The technology to fly a combat aircraft from a ground based "flight deck" thousands of miles away is happening everyday. There are issues, however, with these vehicles, especially when it involves flying aircraft over peaceful, densely populated areas; or if it involves flying passengers. To aircraft operators, on the other hand, the operator of an aircraft, whether on the ground or on-board the vehicle, is at a minimum a cost liability, and in many hostile areas they can be a liability in other ways as well.
My idea is to reduce the cost and liability associated with the pilot by combining technologies. Instead of the current 2 person, both on board the air vehicle flight deck, my concept is to put one pilot on board the vehicle and have the copilot in a flight deck on the ground. In this arrangement the pilot would have primary responsibility for the airplane, but if they required a break or needed someone to handle non-flying duties such as contacting air traffic control they could delegate these activities to a ground based operator.
Piloting, as the old adage goes, is hours of boredom punctuated by moments of terror. This saying is a colorful way of describing the fact that most of flying is simply attending the vehicle while it flies itself through a very austere environment. For the most part, it is only at the beginning and end of a flight, and possibly in the event of a failure that there is significant activity. By using a ground based pilot to help with the workload during these peak times, a copilot in a ground based flight deck could assist several flights at once. This ground based copilot would remain much more alert than a flight based copilot because of the more level workload that person would experience.
The copilot on the ground concept is a win-win approach. It keeps a pilot on board the aircraft, which meets the expectations of both passengers and those living near airports. It provides the air vehicle with a pilot who is more alert than they would be under the current, mainly two on board pilot system, due to the ground based pilot having a better, more level workload. It also reduces costs, which is a benefit to both operators and the flying public. In the cases where the flying environment is hostile, either due to the nature of the country being overflown or due to acts of terrorism, the copilot on the ground is one less life at stake. The future of flight is having at least one pilot on the ground.