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So, from my position, where I have a commercial airport about 4 or 5 miles away, another two about 40 miles away, and one more which (by train) through the city centre is probably about 80 miles away, although taking the ring road around London would be considerably further.Clearly, those commercial airports presently support city to city traffic, so where would you see my using an airtaxi or flying car?
It rather depends on the context. If you are flying in poor visibility, then one way or another, you are going to have to rely on electronic navigation to get you down, or you are dead. Whether that be MLS, or it be GPS and ground mapping radar, it is not going to be eyeball navigation.
In reality, I don't think it should be allowed anywhere - not least because even if the PIC is trained and qualified, how do you ensure they retain consistent experience in flying when all the flying (outside of the once in a lifetime emergency) will be on automatic?
Airports are away from the areas of large population density (relatively speaking - as in they aren't IN the depths of the city) for practicality (takeoff/landing over obstacles) as well as for noise concerns, right? In essence, airliners cannot drop you off AT your destination. That's where airtaxis/etc come in. The mass transit option just makes things a mite cheaper to travel the distance.
As for where to actually set down...well, the New Hampshire isn't too full of empty space either, save 'tis full of forests, mountains, and lakes rather than houses. This is, in my mind, the main problem with the system, and why emergencies should not be delegated to computer control. The best bet you have with an engine failure over that sort of terrain (let's say you're over the middle of a forest) is dropping the aircraft between two trees and whacking off the wings to bleed as much energy as possible without crushing the cabin. Unless imaging programs get a LOT smarter...I don't think that a computer is going to be able to figure out how to do that (and when to do that) anytime in the near future...not for a good while yet.
You'll note that I'm not advocating flying by eye and the seat of your pants -- I'm advocating manual control in emergencies. I also realize that computers do have the advantage under certain circumstances. The problem is discriminating between the two. How will the computer know that a field has a drainage ditch in it, a fence at one end, and a set of power lines in the way of a normal approach (let's imagine a power-off landing scenario)? I can't think of any agency that has mapped the Earth's surface that thoroughly or plans to do so (and add in things every time a farmer adds a wall to his farmland). I know this would be a heck of a problem over farmland in Britain in especial, given all of the enclosed fields that you guys have.
Ahhh...sorry about the many and varied CFR (Code of Federal Regulations on aviation in the US) references that I've made.
I didn't realize that you were British...hope that you made them out OK. Flight training IS indeed cheaper in the states, but I get what you're saying. Then again, are we also anticipating no shift to alternative energy (and I don't mean ethanol...don't get me started on that one)? Most of that cost (especially in your flight school's cost) is probably toward buying avgas. Unfortunately, I doubt that's going to happen anytime soon either (unless a Manhattan project-style commission gets on it).
Hmm...how much would it cost to do a majority of training in the sim, and then take actual flights towards the end of your career? Sims are actually advocated for their ability to force students to use their instruments and get used to what things look like without the distraction of all of the different sensations of flight (I know, they aren't distractions, I'm a big advocate of flying by the seat of your pants myself (being a glider pilot) -- I just needed a word). Sim time is accepted for many licenses nowadays (in the US), including power.
As for airspace - we can do better than merely making a mandate -- we can make a all flight in a 20 mile radius of any major airport (class B airspace in the US...I can't find the English equivalent) automatically slaved to computer control, save in case of an emergency under the conditions already discussed (such as an engine failure or something that required an immediate landing off-airport).
Speaking of engine failure, powered aircraft may have the glide ratio of something close to a brick (most still manage a 10:1 L/D at best), but they still have a glide ratio -- they can still be safely landed with a failed engine.
Finally, as noted before -- flight reviews! You HAVE to take a checkride at least once a year, receive a sim training course/one in reality before being able to fly again...at least in IFR conditions or to/from the middle of no where (can be checked via ownership and locked via computer -- data comes from aviation weather and GPS).
I have skimmed through a lot of the above posts but has anyone mentioned the necessary safe separation distance between flying craft so that their turbulence doesn't have a mutual effect?
Another problem with major commercial airports is that they are not very friendly for small aircraft to land in - so using small aircraft (aircars) to take you to a major commercial airport would present problems in that regard. There are a number of issue. Firstly, simply the problem of landing charges (they are geared for the big carriers, who can afford to pay them).
We don't have very many trees (the odd one here or there), but lots of houses. Landing between houses and, and whacking off the wings to absorb the energy will just not working, not if there is a kiddy playing in the garden of the house whose side you have just demolished to absorb the impact of landing.Maybe a more practical way to absorb impact is to have very large airbags to absorb landing impact (it will of course have to be quite a complex system, because you will want to reduce forward motion as well as vertical motion).
So do helicopters, if the are quickly switched into autogyration mode. It is true that the glide ratio of an autogyrating helicopter is still very stead in comparison to a fixed wing aircraft, but the number of potential emergency landing sites that a helicopter can use are so much greater. The real question one has to ask is not how far it can fly, but what is the probability of finding a suitable landing area in the given available flight time, and if the number of suitable landing sites increases more than offsets the reduction available range in unpowered flight, then the helicopter would still have the advantage.
I don;t know how many registered drivers there are in the UK (or how this will compare to the number of pilots we would expect out of this scheme although I suspect a fair number of car drivers would fail their medical for a pilots licence), but IIRC there are something like 28 million cars in the UK (and one would expect a fair number of people who are licensed to drive who do not own their own car). Assuming we talk about 20 million people will be licensed to use fly aircars, that is 20 million checkout flights each year that is a lot of capacity to build up. How many hours do you expect each pilot to be required to take to remain current? (this is time they will have to take out of their busy lives ok, it is is your profession, or your hobby, but not so ok when it is simply a means to an end a way of commuting to and from work)?
The cost of maintaining an aircraft in flightworthy condition costs far more than keeping a car in road worthy condition (the margins of safety enforced are far wider, so parts are changed more often).Some of the costs of flying are down to the small market involved. There are fewer people buying aircraft, so the economies of scale are less (and again, the greater conservatism in safety standards for aircraft makes getting safety certification for a new aircraft type far more expensive than doing the same for a car, and that cost is shared amongst fewer customers).But the higher costs of flying also mean that the cost of being a professional flight instructor are higher, so they pass those costs on by charging higher fees for the time (many of them don't make much money out of it, simple because they are using it merely to fund their own hobby flying - but if the demand for trainers increases sharply, then we may have to look at more professional flight trainers, who are seeking to make a reasonable living out of flight training, and so the prices on this front may actually rise rather than fall).Another big problem in the UK is, as I have said before, one of weather so flight schools have to invest in hardware that is spending a lot of its time on the ground, not earning any money on their investment, simply because the weather is not suitable for flying. Economies of scale will not alter this. The only way this will change is to allow all weather training for novice students, but I cannot see this as being feasable.
I really cannot see that even in the case of an engine failure, the switchover to manual is meaningful. Just imagine the scene where a tired commuter, on his way home from work, gets into his aircar, switches it into auto, and takes off. Within a few minutes, tired from a days work, he dozes off. Some time later, he is alerted by an alarm going off telling him there is an emergency (maybe 1000 feet above the ground) he is still half asleep, and trying to make sense of the situation (he has probably lost a couple hundred feet even before he opens his eyes assuming he even wakes to the alarm at all) there will simply not be time for him to make a meaningful assessment of the situation, take the controls, and take corrective action. Ofcourse, you could mandate that the pilot must be awake and alert at all time but mandating it and making it happen are two different things. It is a very different situation where you have a pilot that is continually actively controlling the aircraft the whole time, so by definition, he must be alert to his environment the whole way; but that is not what we are talking about. I suppose you could use a dead man's handle to ensure that there is at least someone awake in the cabin during the entire flight, but awake and alert to their environment are different things (and in theory, the dead man's handle could be held down by an unqualified passenger).
Before I get into this, sorry about the delay...homework had me laid up all week.
Aye aye! You are right to be concerned about safety. However, do these airtaxis/aircars need to take off from the same runways as large aircraft? STOVLs/STOLs, right? Since they're computer controlled in the vicinity of heavy metal for all intents and purposes, we can place them on a separate ramp (which they probably would have to be anyhow) and give them their own separate takeoff area far enough away from the main runway that they can be vectored out of the way of departing/incoming traffic before wingtip vortices become an issue (it wouldn't be that far off, really).
Obviously, you aren't going to smash your way through houses in order to land. Killing your aircraft is fine, endangering others isn't so fine. The only problem with the airbags is that although is helps the pilot/passengers out, it leaves them with an aircraft going at a couple dozen knots! What if you're landing on muddy/wet terrain too, so wheelbrakes aren't counting for much? Perhaps a ballistic parachute would prove better in this case - a nice, one-shot, emergency-use-only parachute for the entire aircraft (currently used in general aviation and sold commercially to anyone who wants one). You'd probably be able to rig up a steering system of sorts (by controlling the risers with a computer to limit control if you get too close to collapsing the thing).
As for control (human v computer), I'd agree that a computer could see it (al la AGM-65A Maverick seekers), but could it do anything with that? It took a long time to get Mavericks to even be able to track a target that a Weapons Systems Officer (WSO - the backseat weapons guy in a military aircraft) had slaved the TV seeker to. How would a computer be able to figure out what's what by itself? I just don't see that happening for a good long while, especially with natural objects at a distance.
As for human judgment on landing in farmer's fields, etc...which would you prefer - less money, or less life? I know what you mean, though -- glider folks land out a lot, and you get responses from the farmer standing by your cockpit with a burger and a coke in hand or running out to get you with a rock-salt loaded shotgun. Still, my statement stands. When you're in an emergency situation, the general reaction is to get "tunnel-vision" of a sort, to focus directly onto fixing the situation at hand. In this case, it would be getting the aircraft on the ground and, thus, surviving.
Hmm...what about not having to maintain any hours...just pass the test? Given the low amount of flying required, it wouldn't be too rigorous - just enough to make sure that you'll be able to fly in an emergency, since that's what we're focusing on (and we're imagining that MLS beacons will be installed on rooftops, I think...or something like that). AKA - lots of short field work/power off stuff/emergency procedures.
It's too late (as in 11:25PM and I need sleep) for me to think too very straight. I'll get back to considering these tomorrow, OK?
The problem is still where is land going to be made available for these extra runways. Even commercial runways, where large amounts of big corporate vested interests are driving the process, can still take 5 or more years of political haggling (and this is before even the first clod of earth is turned) to get off the ground. We are talking here not about one runway, but a whole infrastructure, and no currently established commercial vested interested to drive it.
My concern with parachutes is that they may be fine in relatively uncrowded airspace, but they don't give you very much control over your flight path (some control, yes - but very rudimentary); and when you have a lot of other air users around you, and have to be very precise both in your descent path through the traffic, and the point on which you hit the ground, I don't think parachutes would achieve that (think about the precision with which the old Apollo space craft landed on chutes, and the comparable precision of a shuttle).With regard to air bags - I was not thinking of air bags within the aircraft (although that may be a different issue), but air bags outside of the aircraft, actually absorbing the impact velocity of the aircraft on an emergency landing.
If we are talking about a fully automated system, then I am not even sure why one needs to pass a test in the first place; and if the idea is that passing a test 10 years ago, with no practical experience, or even refresher courses in between, will have any meaning at all in 10 years time, then I would have to seriously doubt it (rather like all the people who passed all sorts of exams at school, but 10 years later, never having used any of the material in real life, have totally forgotten all the material they crammed for to get through the exam).
What about private interests? Hotels operate airport parking lots, and it wouldn't be that much of a leap to dedicate that same area to a small runway (100ft or less) and parking ramp.
If you're using a chute, your aircraft has dropped out of the airway due to a lost engine. You're away from any lines of aircar traffic, and there simply isn't enough GA traffic to crowd up the skies to the extent where ballistic parachutes would create a hazard.
I do see your argument about needing precision, though -- especially for a power-off landing in within city limits...which I'd trust to a computer-controlled glide landing to the top of a building or down to the street (yes, I know that there are cars below, but would you rather plow into an office building?).
Airbags on aircraft...while that would provide some amount of cushioning for the aircraft/object impact, I'm thinking of how it would impact the aircraft's fuel capacity. If you stuff them into your standard wings, you decrease the amount of fuel that you can carry (which is something you don't want to decrease if you want this to be commercially viable...or we could use a permanent magnet to generate a current and use that to power the aircraft (or some other alternative power source)). I'd mark it as a possibility.
Which brings me to a previous argument that you brought up -- the switchover from computer to manual. Now that I'm thinking about it more, I guess you could make something with a laser rangefinder and an optical sensor. It'd be a fun moment of computerized photo analysis, but it could be done. You'd have to tackle some extensive R&D work on that, though, to troubleshoot, though. Not that that would be a problem...it would just be another cost.
You are cordially invited to see my flyable automobile project athttp://www.strongware.com/dragon
Quote from: RichStrong on 25/01/2009 16:20:45You are cordially invited to see my flyable automobile project athttp://www.strongware.com/dragonHow does it drive? I imagine the suspension would need to be tougher and heavier than for a normal aircraft.
Has it actually taken off, though?
I wonder (and this may have already been discussed, but there is too much to read here ):1) Can a flying car be considered a sustainable alternative to the car for hundred of millions of people?2) If not, why bother?3) Ignoring personal safety issues, can a flying transportation vehicle use less energy to be manufactured and for necessary travel purposes (home to work/shopping for supplies/school) than an efficient car and therefor be considered safer for our environment?4) If not, why bother?5) Assuming that it will be necessary in the near future for the vast majority of people to move around locally and live in huge cities, what are the benefits of a flying car in this environment?6) How do you combine the need for road safety with the need for a light vehicle while considering environmental impacts of "space-age" materials?7) Is this another toy for those who did not get it, do not care, and can afford it? If yes, why bother? Karsten: The StrongMobiles are intended for frequent regional business travelling where the costs of the StrongMobiles are offset by avoiding user costs from a time viewpoint. I really do not foresee much general popular use of flying cars. Like any other business tool or special purpose vehicle, the market will likely be a limited "niche" market.As an example, consider mail delivery.
KarstenI agree that the problem is not only getting what could be a nifty little machine into the air. The real issue is how a system involving much more private flying can be made to work efficiently and safely. NIMBY i.e. I don't want one landing there or on my roof.
Regardless of whether or not this thing can fly, it would need a clear runway to take off and land. Using public roads would be out of the question. So you will need take-off/landing strips controlled by air traffic controllers. How far would the nearest landing strip be to where you commence and terminate your journey? Say I want to get from Manhattan to Brooklyn or from Greenwich to Kensington. I would probably cover more distance getting from start point to landing strip and landing strip to destination than I would have covered if I had just stayed on the ground and gone straight from one to the other. If I wanted to get from London to Manchester or New York to Washington, I doubt this thing would have sufficient range for a non-stop journey.There is also the point that we want to get people out of private cars and on to public mass transport, not out of cars into private planes!I'm sure this thing would be a fantastic toy for the rich. As for the rest of us, as I said, it will never take off. Not a 'lame attempt at a joke', a pun, but a serious one.
the UK "integrated" transport network....... is expensive, dirty, slow and inefficient.
Quote from: dentstudent on 27/01/2009 15:44:28 the UK "integrated" transport network....... is expensive, dirty, slow and inefficient.You are wrong........... You missed out dangerous and unreliable.
Until there is a proper incentive for people to use bikes/trams/trains/buses, there will always be this alternative option as an "answer" to the car problem.