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Flying a plane is easy. Autopilots have been a thing for a long time. Landing a plane is a bit tricky but doable. The value of human pilots though is in the case of malfunctions. That's the main problem. A failing safe-driving car has always the option of stopping on the side, calling home and lighting the warning lights.

A plane has to find a way of landing safely first. I am not versed enough in aeronautics to even begin to understand how hard it is to reach human-level in mayday situations.

Under normal circumstances a plane can totally land itself at an airport equipped with ILS IIIC. If you’re landing in a corn field because your engine stopped spinning (generally a bad day) the situation is a bit different. This is why I think fully autonomous planes carrying humans won’t happen for a really long time. The stakes when shit goes sideways is really high and it takes skill and a bit of luck to recover from that. Computers don’t yet have that.

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