Top Letters And Comments, February 26, 2021


Spaceflight In The Age Of Cute

VERY cool to find these “insider” things. I’ve been lucky enough to meet and speak with several astronauts and talk with them in enough depth to see not only how focused they are, but several “insider” personal anecdotes.

We lionize our heroes and ascribe superhuman attributes to them, but when they show their human side, they become even more believable and give us hope that we too might be capable of doing great things–but isn’t that an almost-universal attribute of all great people?

Jim H.

While “Dare Mighty Things” may be JPL’s ethos, I think it is worth reminding the more modern audience that the person who first penned those words was referring of course to life in general, and to his conception as to how it should be lived.

Considering his life as a rancher, hunter, explorer, author, soldier, and politician he certainly practiced what he preached….among other things he remains the only person to have been the recipient of the Medal of Honor [as was one of his sons] and the Nobel Peace Prize.

I strongly suspect that Mr. [Theodore] Roosevelt would have been extremely impressed, but not surprised, by this latest achievement of American technology. Bully.

Carl R.

Is A 406 ELT Worth It?

A good article and well researched. I had to replace the old Narco 121.5 ELT in my airplane a few years ago because I accidentally dropped it on the hangar floor while removing it for a “bump” test. Even though the case suffered no visible damage, the innards apparently were not as durable. At the time, you could still purchase a 121 unit, but I chose to get a 406 unit with GPS input from an external source. In retrospect, I probably should have gotten one with internal GPS capability, but the price would have almost doubled. One thing I like about the 406 units is that they have the test/activation switch mounted on the instrument panel. While that may contribute to the high false alarm rate, from busy-fingered pilots or curious passengers, it does give you a chance to activate the beacon if you know you are in trouble. Like declaring a mayday, just push the button and explain later. Better to have the beacon already on than to rely on the G-switch to work, or not.

I also purchased a PLB, based on the ratings from Aviation Consumer (thanks guys). I registered both, and provide updates whenever NOAA sends out a reminder to do so. When not flying, I have started carrying the PLB in my car on trips. Having read of several accidents where the driver ran off the road into a place not visible from the highway, and then endured a couple days of being trapped, I figured it might save me someday. One thing about the PLB that is frustrating is that, when the battery expires, the manufacturer actually recommends replacing the unit rather than just buying a new battery. According to my conversation with them, they insist that you return the unit to them for battery replacement and unit testing – a cost nearly the same as a whole new unit – which then requires another registration.

Bottom line, I only carry the ELT because the FAA says I have to. Being ADS-B compliant, I see no reason why that could not replace the unreliable ELTs and save consumers the cost of new units and their expensive batteries.

John Mc.

Poll: Is FedEx’s Single-Pilot Twin Cargo Airplane a Good Idea?

  • 20 years and 10,000+ hours of single pilot, night, IFR cargo flying personally, I don’t see the big deal.
  • As a former commercial pilot, I flew courier as a single pilot for quite some time. In this day and age with all the electronics, autopilot etc. I feel it can be done safely, especially with autoland.
  • Depends on the plane and the mission and maintenance and training.
  • Bad idea. Second opinion in cockpit is very important.
  • The trucking industry has done it for decades. Air freight can do it too.
  • Penny wise and pound foolish. Like minimum fuel loads to reduce tare weight, just one failure gives back every penny saved and then some. Teaching MBAs to consider human factors is a fool’s errand, though.
  • Next step: no pilots.
  • Install Halo emergency autoland and the ability for it to be activated from the ground.
  • Cessna has had single-pilot Citations for decades.
  • Ultimately, it’s a reflection of how much money freight carriers are willing to allow for costs of operations.
  • It depends on how good the AI support is for the human pilot.
  • No redundancy in the case of pilot incapacity.
  • The benefits will never outweigh the costs of factory clean-sheet redesigns of proven two-pilot aircraft.
  • Single pilot is no new thing. Is there a delta between SP and 2 Pilot aircraft om accidents?
  • Depends on the type of operation: night, IFR, winter operations, etc.
  • We’ve flown business jets for decades single pilot, what’s the difference? An ATR is certainly no more complicated.
  • Good idea, go for it.
  • Not really an issue with current autopilots. Maybe they should add a camera for the starboard view of the prop a copilot would provide.
  • Single Commercial pilots have been flying twins for years now.
  • Yes. Twin Otters have been flying single pilot for certain categories for years.
  • Depends on what sort of system Sikorsky is developing.
  • Of course it’s a great idea. The technology is already here. The military has been using unmanned aircraft for years. Getting rid of half of the union pilots with their salary and benefits will be huge.
  • Single pilot saves money. Not good idea. What about the if pilot has medical problems? Two pilots are better for crews and ground personnel.
  • It’s all fine until something goes wrong…
  • Maybe, depending on the backup system.
  • Too soon tell. Let’s listen the pros and cons.
  • Provided the integration for the pilot considers good human factors and Engine Out handling doesn’t require super-human pilot skills, safety should be superior to that of its SELF predecessor.
  • How they will certify pilot incapacitation?
  • It’s ok if pilots have adequate and current basic flying skills to successfully hand fly the airplane when automation fails.
  • Very expensive operational cost exceed the real value.
  • Equip the aircraft with an ejection seat.
  • Just the next step to autonomous…
  • I don’t think the workload has been reduced enough during takeoff and landing to be as safe as two in the cockpit at this time. Also limits training.
  • Somebody’s going to try it eventually. Might as well be the first to check feasibility.
  • GOOD FOR Who???? Not good for aviators, in general.
  • It doesn’t have to be flown single pilot does it?
  • Who cares, my package won’t get there overnight anyway.

Other AVwebflash Articles