Article about General Aviation

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BJC

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I subscribe to the local paper. It is delivered at 0140 hours, and I take it because I prefer to work the crossword puzzle (two big ones on Sunday), the Sudoku, and another word puzzle with the paper in hand while enjoying a cup or three of coffee in the early AM. I’ve never read the “news” section, much less the op-ed; don’t even open them. The Wednesday edition has enough grocery coupons that the savings more than pay for the paper.

I use two pages to light the fire every Friday morning.


BJC
 

Pops

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So YOU are one of those crossword puzzle nuts :) So is my wife. I tell her to give me the hard ones that stumps her. She says , " sure, if you can answer a hard one, that will be the day" :)
I tell her that I'm going to make sure my next wife is dumber than I am. She says " good luck on finding one".
I'm still putting up with her at 60.5 years . She is a red head Irish lass that is half Jewish. Bad combination for me. That means she know how to fight smart :)
 

Pops

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No not backwards. We were married 60.5 years ago. Daughter was 59 years old last July, oldest son 58 years old and youngest son 56 years old.
 

BJC

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It’s just possible that she is putting up with you, Pops.

That is how it works around here.


BJC
 

David Lewis

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Why would I want to trust the imperfect human being who designed and developed an autonomous autopilot system, instead of trusting the imperfect human being who would be hand-flying the aircraft without the autonomous system?
Understandable, but autonomous vehicles are in the Wright Brothers stage of development. When self-flying airplanes demonstrate a better safety record, passengers will not trust human-operated vehicles.

The ownership costs are going to be prohibitive for the average Bonanza owner.
Autonomous cars and planes will most likely be owned by corporations, who will operate them around the clock, and users (you and I) will rent them.

When a car or an airplane is parked, money is going out for the parking space or the hangar, and the vehicle is not generating income.
 

blane.c

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Why will you drive or fly yourself when the additional cost of insurance will be so prohibitive? Best let the robot do it, it'l be cheaper.
 

Greg DeKeyser

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i’m late to this party as there are 107 replies..... i’m not reading all 107 so hopefully this hasnt been said already....

imho, the regulatory environment around aviation is to blame for its demise. Its the reason i like experimental aviation so much. Everything in the certified side is layered in government red tape. The supply chain for parts, the services industry, the licensing process, the use of airspace. Not to say some is not important or critical even, but i wouldnt ever say we are anywhere near an ideal state right now.

airspace needs to be modernized for a possible self flying vehicle market. The certification process needs to be streamlined to allow more competition for parts and services. More opportunities for self service and upgrades, Lower barrier to entry level license by added technology. Etc.

I’m also an MBA student atm, and it all can be boiled down to the basic simplified supply/demand curves.... when you add a govt bureaucracy, the supply side curve is going to shift up....the equilibrium quantity goes down and the price goes up. As qnty goes down, the opportunity for economies of scale reduce (which are desperately needed in this small market), and the price goes up some more which reduces the demand a little more.... vicious cycle
 

cblink.007

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@Victor Bravo Thank you, those are all great points! You've summarized perfectly why these aircraft should be hauling cargo until they have enough hours to be established as credibly safe.
Late reply...forgive me.

I like your article, but I respectfully disagree with some of the premise of your piece, as you only focused on one solution without defining the real problem.

Automation will not bring back GA in its entirety, but may stimulate but a few segments of it. Most of us here like to fly real aircraft, not a flight simulator or a drone. Taking the human pilot out of the loop will not magically lower the costs, which is the real adversary. Does automation and UAS have a place? Sure does, but not necessarily in light aviation.

Legacy aircraft, like the Cessna 172 et al, are increasingly expensive because of their age. More age means more inspections and maintenance...and parts & labor aren't cheap. More age means higher likelihood of failure, hence higher insurance. New ones off the line are prohibitively expensive, yet are only modestly improved in the powerplant and avionics areas. While Cessna, Cirrus, Piper, Lycoming and others have the ability to develop something amazing, the extreme costs of certification far outweigh the expected and anticipated financial return to their shareholders. It is a negative feedback loop that only accelerates.

That is where our E-AB movement comes in. Every day, we are developing ways to lower costs, increase efficiency, sustainability, performance & safety...all while advancing the state of the art. Some solutions may include automation, some not. Some will include solutions none of us have even thought of yet. The skies are the limit.

Within our movement lay the tinkerers, the inventors, the disruptors.

They had names like Wright, Horten, Northrop, von Braun, Hughes, Johnson, and within our lifetime, Rutan and Musk.

When interviewed during the SpaceShipOne program, on the topic of his efforts versus the NASA establishment method of decades-long effort with small returns, Burt Rutan put it best:

"Unless people like me go out there and do this, it will never get done...ever."

Lowering the costs of going flying is the end goal, not eliminating the pilot.

This is the Way
 
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12notes

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Understandable, but autonomous vehicles are in the Wright Brothers stage of development.
They're a lot further along than that. Waymo has a few hundred autonomous taxis in Phoenix right now, available for use by the public with no driver in the vehicle.


And the vast majority of the flying time by the vast majority of flights are not operated by humans.
 

cblink.007

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Do you honestly need proof that commercial aviation uses autopilot?
I get what you are implying, but even when flight directors are on, we still monitor systems if immediate intervention is required. In several EP's, one of the first actions is to disengage the FD. In addition, there are other things we are doing in the cockpit. I'd know; I was an airline pilot until I went back to the flight test world! Believe it or not, humans are a big part of a typical airline flight. The FD only assists; we have the final say...at least in a Boeing, but we can discuss flight control architecture another time. Automation gone amok is indiscriminately deadly. It took four close acquaintances of mine 20 years ago this month.
 
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jedi

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They're a lot further along than that. Waymo has a few hundred autonomous taxis in Phoenix right now, available for use by the public with no driver in the vehicle.


And the vast majority of the flying time by the vast majority of flights are not operated by humans.
"And the vast majority of the flying time by the vast majority of flights are not operated by humans. "

Not sure I agree with your statement. Small GA aircraft outnumber airlines by at least 10 to 1 and most are hand flown. All ultralights are hand flown. Some facts are overlooked because we have tunnel vision.

Example: 90 percent of powered flight is done by flapping wings. True or false. Answer: True.

Look out the window and what do you see, a bird, a bee? Many bugs are too small to even see. Perhaps there is a fly beating his head against the window also.

PS When my drone flies into the window it crashes. The fly is like the Energizer Bunny, it keeps on going and going and going ..... The fly must have a much better control law program. Nature beats automation again. What do you want controlling your (converging) aircraft.
 
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cblink.007

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"And the vast majority of the flying time by the vast majority of flights are not operated by humans. "

Not sure I agree with your statement. Small GA aircraft outnumber airlines by at least 10 to 1 and most are hand flown. All ultralights are hand flown. Some facts are overlooked because we have tunnel vision.

Example: 90 percent of powered flight is done by flapping wings. True or false. Answer: True.

Look out the window and what do you see, a bird, a bee? Many bugs are too small to even see. Perhaps there is a fly beating his head against the window also.

PS When my drone flies into the window it crashes. The fly is like the Energizer Bunny, it keeps on going and going and going ..... The fly must have a much better control law program. Nature beats automation again. What do you want controlling your (converging) aircraft.
Don't get me started on control law architecture. What I learned during grad school and USNTPS completely turned me off to Airbus aircraft. Here is what happens when FBW AFCS software is written such that the AFCS has the final say over the pilot...and a flaw exists in the system...


At least in my Osprey (Bell-Boeing), we have the final say....to include the Max 8 (another topic for later)
 

12notes

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"And the vast majority of the flying time by the vast majority of flights are not operated by humans. "

Not sure I agree with your statement. Small GA aircraft outnumber airlines by at least 10 to 1 and most are hand flown. All ultralights are hand flown. Some facts are overlooked because we have tunnel vision.

Example: 90 percent of powered flight is done by flapping wings. True or false. Answer: True.

Look out the window and what do you see, a bird, a bee? Many bugs are too small to even see. Perhaps there is a fly beating his head against the window also.

PS When my drone flies into the window it crashes. The fly is like the Energizer Bunny, it keeps on going and going and going ..... The fly must have a much better control law program. Nature beats automation again. What do you want controlling your (converging) aircraft.
Flights by birds and insects are not operated by humans, either.

On a commercial flight, when the autopilot is engaged, a human is not operating the flight, even if they are monitoring the FD or put in the way points before takeoff.

From Air Traffic Dataset | Science On a Sphere (Bold are my comments) Original quote is from NATCA, didn't have time to track down original source.

"On any given day, more than 87,000 flights are in the skies in the United States. Only one-third are commercial carriers, like American, United or Southwest. On an average day, air traffic controllers handle 28,537 commercial flights (All of these are typically autopilot from shortly after takeoff to approach) , 27,178 general aviation flights (Some, but much less than half of these flights also use autopilot most of the flight), 24,548 air taxi flights (most use autopilot), 5,260 military flights (depends on plane and mission, don't know the breakdown) and 2,148 air cargo flights (close to all use autopilot)."

I don't think there are that many daily ultralight flights, maybe 1,000-2,000, not enough to make a significant difference. Couldn't find a definitive number, mainly because I don't think the data exists.

And, yes, I'm aware that air taxi includes Alaskan bush planes that definitely do not use autopilot, but it also includes light jets and large propeller plane charter flights that do. It's really hard to find a good breakdown, because Google searches for "air taxi" are polluted with projections of multicopter "air taxis" from Uber, Lillium, etc, and I don't want to spend any more time on it.

Perhaps I overstated by saying the "vast" majority of flights, but it definitely seems to me that it is the vast majority of flying time of at least the majority of flights. I stand by my statement, feel free to look for more definitive numbers.
 

mcrae0104

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Example: 90 percent of powered flight is done by flapping wings.
By what standard? Number of flights? Distance flown? Mass times distance flown? Let's see, ten billion gnats times 0.1 grams times X meters per flight per 24 hours per day... OK, you're right, the bugs win. :)
 

rv7charlie

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I just don't understand why you guys fear automation so much.
;-)
Seriously, the military is working on a program right now that'll put automated control literally in the pilot's seat to operate existing aircraft, using existing controls.

And I don't think the autonomous flight issue has any bearing on what most of us think of as 'general aviation' (sport flying), any more than airline travel has any significant bearing on GA ( as long as we can keep ATC from being 'privatized').
 

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