(Bloomberg) -- Boeing Co.’s chief executive officer says it’s a matter of when — not if — self-flying planes will debut in commercial aviation. 

The planemaker’s autonomous flight technology being developed for military applications will eventually appear on commercial aircraft in the future, Dave Calhoun said in a Bloomberg TV interview. 

“Autonomy is going to come to all of the airplanes eventually,” Calhoun said on the sidelines of an event commemorating the final delivery of its iconic 747 jumbo jet in Everett, Washington. “The future of autonomy is real for civil” aviation, he said.


Read more: Boeing Bids Farewell to the Queen of the Skies With Final 747

Boeing’s next iconic design may stem from its partnership with NASA to test-fly a prototype aircraft with a new wing design that Calhoun said could yield as much as a 30% fuel efficiency improvement over current-generation narrow-body jets such as the 737 Max. Known as the “transonic truss-braced wing,” Boeing and NASA aim for test flights in 2028 for what Calhoun said he hopes could become a successor to the 737.

“Now we have to prove that it can be commercialized,” the CEO said. “We hope to prove to ourselves that this kind of technology can come to the marketplace.” 

Calhoun also said his company is taking advantage of layoffs at technology companies, including Amazon.com Inc. and Microsoft Corp., to bolster its ranks of skilled workers. “We had 15,000 hires last year. We’ll have another 10,000 this year,” he said, adding that “many” of the software engineers being brought on are coming from Amazon.

“We’ve never had trouble with that. Do I think the layoffs make it maybe a little easier? Of course.”

--With assistance from Guy Johnson and Julie Johnsson.

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