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Bigshu

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Lycoming built the ie2 engine. EFI and EI, the works. It's way too expensive, since certification costs are expensive. Testing takes time and costs money. And without that testing, no one can be sure that the new engine will be any more reliable than the old. Ease of starting is a minor issue compared to reliability.
Carmakers spread their R&D costs out over many millions of vehicles. Airframe and aircraft engine manufacturers spread their R&D out over a few dozen airplanes. The math is really inconvenient. When cars quit they coast to the side of the road. When an airplane quits someone gets hurt or dead. Insurance companies are nervous about new stuff, and that's not convenient either.
The solutions are not simple. Or cheap. If they were we wouldn't be having this discussion.
The solutions won't get any easier or cheaper if we kick the can down the road, either. Part of the solution to any improvement in GA aircraft is reducing the cost of production, including certification. Volume makes a huge difference, as you point out. But we're certainly not going to get more volume by saying no to emerging technologies that could have a dramatic positive impact on the cost of everything associated with flying: fuel cost, maintenance cost, training cost, acquisition cost, can conceivably all be reduced by future advances. The way to get more people looking to buy new tings isn't to keep offering things that are developmental dead ends, with a useful life measured in decades. It's the same situation in sailboats, where you can have a fully functional craft that was built decades ago, that only needs repair or replacement of components that wear out.
I wonder what the statistics are on engine out landings. Are we sure that when the airplane quits, someone always gets hurt of dead? If that's the case, instructors should ignore training for engine out scenarios, since you're just a goner if the engine quits.
 

Dan Thomas

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5,413
Interesting info, but unless the argument is that fossil fueled IC engines don't contain most of the listed items, and they are all built from recycled, existing materials (no acquisition impact from building engines), then what I'm getting from your info is that we shouldn't be making the batteries we already make, much less look to make better ones. I don't see how anyone can support the production of any extracted resource, given these facts. <Hyperbole insertion off>
Unless I totally misunderstood what you're saying. There is a much greater than zero chance that's true!
IC engines are made from iron, steel, aluminum, and small amounts of lead, copper, tin, chromium and nickel, all of which are easily recycled. It's the vast amounts of lithium and cobalt that EV batteries require that are in question here. Another factor not mentioned in that article is that much of the cobalt is being mined in African countries, with the ore being sorted by children who are paid some tiny wage. They don't live very long due to the toxicity of the ore's dust. People who buy EVs are either unaware of the human and environmental devastation caused by the production of their cars, or they conveniently ignore it. Cobalt is used in cellphone batteries and other things, but the EV battery has ramped up the production enormously, making the use of children attractive for the mining companies.
Is your phone tainted by the misery of 35,000 children in Congo's mines? | Siddharth Kara
 
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Dan Thomas

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Sep 17, 2008
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5,413
The solutions won't get any easier or cheaper if we kick the can down the road, either. Part of the solution to any improvement in GA aircraft is reducing the cost of production, including certification. Volume makes a huge difference, as you point out. But we're certainly not going to get more volume by saying no to emerging technologies that could have a dramatic positive impact on the cost of everything associated with flying: fuel cost, maintenance cost, training cost, acquisition cost, can conceivably all be reduced by future advances. The way to get more people looking to buy new tings isn't to keep offering things that are developmental dead ends, with a useful life measured in decades. It's the same situation in sailboats, where you can have a fully functional craft that was built decades ago, that only needs repair or replacement of components that wear out.
I wonder what the statistics are on engine out landings. Are we sure that when the airplane quits, someone always gets hurt of dead? If that's the case, instructors should ignore training for engine out scenarios, since you're just a goner if the engine quits.
If you want a modern aircraft engine, nobody is stopping you. They're not stopping Lycoming or Continental or Rotax, either. It's real easy to say, as you did, that "emerging technologies that could have a dramatic positive impact on the cost of everything associated with flying: fuel cost, maintenance cost, training cost, acquisition cost, can conceivably all be reduced by future advances." The barrier is up-front COST, as it usually is, not technology. I mentioned the amortization of R&D costs (including engineering, manufacturing, testing, certification, plus insurance against litigation) over millions of cars while an aircraft manufacturer does it over a few dozen airplanes. If the manufacturer thinks the new technology will sell ten thousand times as many airplanes he might risk it, but of course, he'll never sell that many. The Cessna 172, the most-produced single-engine airplane in history, only numbered 44,000 airplanes. Cessna only builds a few dozen a year now, and even less of the 182 and 206.
The work involved in getting licensed is a big limiting factor, and if that license was dumbed down any further the accident rate would be even worse, whether or not the engine was a modern failure-proof thing. Pilots are quite skilled at finding ways to crash. Similarly, dumbing-down (some call it "streamlining") the certification process has its risks, as the Boeing 737 Max 8 fiasco proves. Government inefficiency is a big part of the certification costs, but even if it was farmed out to someone efficient it would still cost a lot. There's a lot at stake.

The new technology would only increase the cost of production and today's tiny sales numbers would fall further. Look at this:

2019 Aircraft Production Highlights:
No. of Aircraft Sold - World/US: 2,658/1,771
Global Revenues: $23.15 billion
Industry Leader: Cessna - Textron (485 units)
Bestseller: Cirrus SR22T (200 delivered)

Those numbers include bizjets, which make the Cessna/Textron numbers look good, but sure don't apply to us. Cirrus sold 200 units. There were 97 million automobiles produced worldwide in 2018. 36,493 times as many as airplanes. Amorization of development costs matters.

I have had two engine failures. Survived them both, obviously, because I had decent places to land. Both were in severe clear VFR conditions, too, not in IMC over the Rockies and not in the middle of winter where a nice soft landing in snow a few miles from anybody else often means death by hypothermia. Neither failure was due to the age of the technology of the engine or its systems. It was lousy maintenance, and lousy maintenance will kill a modern engine just as quickly.
 
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Victor Bravo

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Jul 30, 2014
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Are we sure that when the airplane quits, someone always gets hurt of dead? If that's the case, instructors should ignore training for engine out scenarios, since you're just a goner if the engine quits.
NNOOooooo ! There are several of us here on this forum and many others around the world who have some amount of experience with un-intentional engine-out landings. I have two such experiences, and I'll bet several others here have lots more than that. Heck most of the ultralight pilots from the 1970's and 1980's are likely to have 10 to 100 engine-out experiences. Training for engine-out scenarios is an important part of being a safe pilot IMHO.
 

Dan Thomas

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Sep 17, 2008
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5,413
NNOOooooo ! There are several of us here on this forum and many others around the world who have some amount of experience with un-intentional engine-out landings. I have two such experiences, and I'll bet several others here have lots more than that. Heck most of the ultralight pilots from the 1970's and 1980's are likely to have 10 to 100 engine-out experiences. Training for engine-out scenarios is an important part of being a safe pilot IMHO.
Yup. Training mitigates the damage. Poor training, or, more correctly, poor learning, has always been evident in accidents where the pilot tried to do something he was taught not to try if the engine quit. Often, he's trying to save the airplane and ends up killing someone.

Engine-outs won't disappear with electric airplanes or "modern" IC engines, either. No mechanical or electrical or hydraulic device is failure-proof. They are still subject to poor maintenance due to careless mechanics or cheap owners.
 
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