FAA: Wrestling with Appropriate Pilot Rating for EVTOLs

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Dana

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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.
 

undean

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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.
 

Dusan

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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.
Err.. No - A multicopter does not auto-rotate, and cannot glide. It cannot "have equal or better reliability and safety than a conventional helicopter" since is lacking an inherent safety mechanism. A parachute is not an inherent safety mechanism. It needs to be deployed, it takes time and can malfunction since it's used in emergencies only. What do you do in case of a lightning strike and all the electronics gets fried? A small Cessna is not relying on electrical system to keep the engine running, it has magneto's. It happened more than once - the engine still running after a lighting strikes frying all electrical system onboard.
 

Pops

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If it will break, it will.
Went to work on a 200 ton capacity large bridge crane. ( monthly safety check list of 6 pages of items). Got up in the cab, started to move it to the end of the mile long building for the work. Contacts welded together on high speed. Got the main power off and got on the brakes and got it stopped at the end of the building right against the large stop blocks on the rails.
 

bmcj

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The problem with autonomous flight is that it will almost certainly will need some ground based Network connection to work within the system. This network connection will make it vulnerable to hacking, and you know that someone is going to try to hack them.
 

Dana

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Err.. No - A multicopter does not auto-rotate, and cannot glide. It cannot "have equal or better reliability and safety than a conventional helicopter" since is lacking an inherent safety mechanism. A parachute is not an inherent safety mechanism. It needs to be deployed, it takes time and can malfunction since it's used in emergencies only. What do you do in case of a lightning strike and all the electronics gets fried? A small Cessna is not relying on electrical system to keep the engine running, it has magneto's. It happened more than once - the engine still running after a lighting strikes frying all electrical system onboard.
Operational reliability is not the same thing as the ability to survive a failure. With fewer moving parts, a multicopter should be more reliable; whether it will be as safe overall depends on the reliability of the secondary safety mechanisms (BRS or whatever).
 

Mad MAC

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The problem with autonomous flight is that it requires a Part 25 level of certification effort because its a very complicated systems problem, but the market is part 23 sized.

Even if you can sell 30,000 units, its several billion just to certify / setup production up & aftermarket support setup*, so at least 100K cost per airframe before actual production costs. So then you need to find 30,000 people willing to throw probably a million plus at something that has a poor payload range & isn't all weather IFR (limited power margins in critical phases, no anti-ice, temp margins etc).

Flying is hard just like the ground when you get it wrong.

*Its a swag but aftermarket support is considered to be the same order of magnitude as the same as design and certification, guess new prodution facilities would be about the same costs.
 

blane.c

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Check out "B"

§ 61.31 Type rating requirements, additional training, and authorization requirements.

(l) Exceptions.


(1) This section does not require a category and class rating for aircraft not type-certificated as airplanes, rotorcraft, gliders, lighter-than-air aircraft, powered-lifts, powered parachutes, or weight-shift-control aircraft.
(2) The rating limitations of this section do not apply to -
(i) An applicant when taking a practical test given by an examiner;
(ii) The holder of a student pilot certificate;
(iii) The holder of a pilot certificate when operating an aircraft under the authority of -
(A) A provisional type certificate; or
(B) An experimental certificate, unless the operation involves carrying a passenger;
(iv) The holder of a pilot certificate with a lighter-than-air category rating when operating a balloon;
(v) The holder of a recreational pilot certificate operating under the provisions of § 61.101(h); or
(vi) The holder of a sport pilot certificate when operating a light-sport aircraft.
[Doc. No. 25910, 62 FR 40896, July 30, 1997, as amended by Amdt. 61-104, 63 FR 20286, Apr. 23, 1998; Amdt. 61-110, 69 FR 44865, July 27, 2004; Amdt. 61-124, 74 FR 42548, Aug. 21, 2009; Amdt. 61-128, 76 FR 54105, Aug. 31, 2011; Amdt. 61-142, 83 FR 30276, June 27, 2018]







61.63 type rating requirements.jpg

Look at "g" below

experimental certificates.jpg

experimental category.jpg
And a excerpt from 61.61.


FAA 61.61.jpg
 
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SpruceForest

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Seems like the conversation has reshaped to include pretty much all things Advanced Air Mobility, so some mental noodling on a quiet Sunday morning:

- In my view, three things MUST be adequately addressed before any degree of autonomy will be allowed by cert and regulatory authorities: cybersecurity (protection against attack - safe landing), APNT (alternative position, navigation, and timing) to address GPS/GNSS denial and deception, and public acceptance & assumption of risk (both by passengers and those on the ground)

- At present, the population demographics cliff we just drove over in the developed world does not enable us to generate the number of crew members needed to fill existing commercial aircraft cockpit seats; when the required crew numbers increase by an order of magnitude for our Jetsons-like future, either we accept passenger-directed/operator-monitored 'autonomy' or we develop air vehicle control tech that allows the average mildly-cognitively-impaired octogenarian to get from home to market/medical office/KENO vendor and back home with just the current degree of risk seen in similar events.

- There are already commercial systems available to disrupt/disable UAS for use around airports, and as most technology is at least somewhat scalable, this development should scare the heck out of those following this thread (I can buy a very capable SDR - Software Defined Radio - for well under $100 on Amazon... the SDR is a core HW component of a GPS/GNSS jammer or spoofer).

-Anyone emotionally invested in the notion of Green this or that should run the energy budget for zipping from tony suburban enclave into the fashionable part of mid-town, then to drinks and finally back home. Compare to the same journeys using reasonably efficient ground transport and please, please, please justify the 10x - 100x minimum energy differential using anything other than convenience as a rationale. The numbers appear to me to be wildly out-of-wack for those allowing their emotion or ideology to guide their investment strategy, so I have to question how sustainable the push in the capital markets will be towards AAM.
 
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