Business: The Third Man Theme

Will two in the cockpit do?

Two pilots in a commercial jet are company, but do three make a crowd? For years airlines and pilots have bickered over the number of people who should be in the cockpit. In the 1930s, planes like Boeing's Flying Boat had five: a pilot, copilot, navigator, radio operator and mechanic. With improved technology, the count generally dwindled to three. But airlines and planemakers have long argued that only a pilot and co-pilot are needed.

Now Boeing, the largest manufacturer of commercial aircraft, has weighed in with statistics showing that two-member crews on planes like its own 737...

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