FAA: Wrestling with Appropriate Pilot Rating for EVTOLs

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Super Moderator
Staff member
Apr 3, 2007
So many failure modes that can make it fall from the sky. Except... a well designed evtol could well have equal or better reliability and safety than a conventional helicopter, which people find acceptable. It doesn't have to be perfectly safe, just safe enough... whatever that is.


Jun 30, 2019
Note how long it is taking to get 2D autonomy working fully in cars. Flight is a much more complex regime, and all the things a pilot does are difficult to replicate in computer software (and hardware).
We're only at level 3 in cars. Sadly most don't understand what that even means or even care.

I dunno, I think autonomous flight is probably easier than driving. We already have it, pretty much, with autopilots in airliners including autoland. Airplanes don't have to worry about other cars shooting out from side streets, pedestrians, etc., or other unpredictable things.

The disturbing part is wondering what part of the sky will be left for us in our unpredictable manually controlled aircraft...
From the pilots view it's easier. From the designers it's so much more complicated. It's so complicated that the FAA and other governing bodies are having to relax safety standards to even allow it. Non-determinant computing, software that's all machine coded and bloated and glitchy, not properly or even close to fully regression tested, systems that aren't remotely integrated properly, etc.

As is often overlooked with auto pilots or even computer controlled flight systems: they are ok for standard flight parameters so long as everything is working properly. Once something happens they try to fix it. Once they have gotten into an unrecoverable situation it is dumped into the PIC hands. It then gets blamed on the PIC.

It's bad.