Top Letters And Comments, January 17, 2020

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Airbus Autonomous Taxi, Takeoff And Landing Project Reaches Milestone

I think the nagging feeling […] is that of the standardized mediocrity that comes with any process or product that is automated (or at least rigidly controlled). One example is that fine organization, MacDonald’s. They don’t make the worst hamburger in the world, but they certainly don’t make the best. However, whether you go to one around the corner or in Timbuktu, you’re pretty sure you’ll get the same burger (regional differences aside – Rome has a pretty good pasta bar in their MacDonald’s).

Another example is the mindless rush to make cars autonomous. Those vehicles won’t be the worst drivers on the road, but they certainly won’t be the best. They will be stubbornly average, and based on the way drivers behave in the Greater Metropolitan D.C. area, it will be a frustrating experience since all drivers think they’re better than everyone else, which is why they deserve to be in front of you. Your automated Camry driver won’t be programmed to make sure you’re ahead of that snob in his automated Lexus.

Aircraft with automated piloting will only go to standardized airports, that serve standardized cities. They won’t do the slam dunk approach at St. Barts Airport or the uphill landing at Courchevel in the French Alps. That would take too much programming for too small a market.

Standardized automation also sets the present in stone and rejects the future. A system that is kept constant is by definition obsolete the minute it’s implemented. But the cost of switching becomes so high, even small innovations are rejected as not worth either the cost or the risk. And so humanity is stuck for decades flying Cessna 172s, eating terrible hamburgers, and waiting at their desks for yet another update of Windows to be installed on their computers. We accept mediocrity because the risk of change appears too great.

Societies advance by those at the edge of the bell curve, not those in the middle. Mediocrity is not only boring, it’s self-defeating.

James F.

[…] I have come to the conclusion, there’s something not right where this is all heading. One thing is for sure, it’s not flying anymore, it’s transporting. How boring.

Throw all the books out. It doesn’t matter anymore. You don’t need to know how an airplane flies or why. You don’t need to know anything about physics, weather, or even communication for that matter. You can be dumb as a rock to fly an airplane. All you need to know is how to manage. An event happens and you just watch the machine make whatever corrective action it has been programmed to make. If it doesn’t do what it’s supposed to do, you just wait for the next programmed action. So what’s the point of having cockpit managers? They’re not going to be pilots. They’re not going to be trained to be proficient in flying, they don’t have to be. They must maintain proficiency in managing something, what, I don’t know.

Tom C.

Commercial air travel has finally achieved what the pioneers of aviation always wanted. This is the crown jewel of their dream to make public flying into a non-event; like catching a bus. Mediocrity is proof of success.

Mark F.

Poll: How Has ADS-B Worked Out So Far?

  • Good, except I am looking at all the traffic around me on the display and suddenly an aircraft that was not on the display crossed close under me last week.
  • Takes a nice Sunday flight where before you thought you just might be one of a few, and in a heartbeat, you have a dozen competing targets you need to process for position, direction climb/decent and relative altitude. Makes for a very busy cockpit!!!
  • Yes and no. Great to see some other equipped airplanes. Not so great (and misleading) that my UAT unit loses all the non-UAT rebroadcast traffic when I drop below radar coverage. The dual-freq implementation was a bad decision in my opinion.
  • Could have been designed better.
  • It rarely works. ATC never complains when it is inoperative.
  • We can now question controllers while under IFR when they are going to point out potential conflicting traffic.
  • Have yet to realize any value. My Scout will pick up any aircraft with a transponder. I don’t feel any safer!
  • Deferring inop-ADS-B equipment using the FAA’s ADAPT tool has not worked well, not to mention they sprang it on us at the last-minute leaving operators confused as to how best to navigate ADS-B inop scenarios.
  • I’ve sold my airplane and quit flying.
  • Working so far, albeit at a great cost.
  • Already had a near miss from a non-equipped aircraft.
  • Really like having another way of being able to spot traffic.
  • Poorly architectured excessively costly system can’t scale to incorporate UAV traffic.
  • Works but coverage sucks. Who was the idiot that made stations ground-based?
  • Have fitted ADSB-In, very useful.
  • Little coverage in more remote areas.
  • Being installed now.
  • It’s a potentially dangerous diversion in G, and E airspace.
  • No electrical system. Sorry not sorry!
  • Waiting for price to come down or Transport Canada to regulate. It is not worth thousands of dollars to fly in to the USA once or twice a year.
  • Expensive baloney causing pilots to stare at the panel instead of looking outside.
  • Poorly. What are the costs and benefits? Mostly will further dampen GA recovery. What shoe drops next? I need a new radio frequency? Engine? License?
  • ATC here at my Class D airport has no guidance from the FAA.
  • I haven’t equipped yet and used ADAPT to get out of a Class B on Jan 2. No issues AFAIK.
  • Expensive and time consuming but we are legal.
  • Inconsistent signals.
  • Works okay. Should continue to get better as pilots use it.
  • Typical govt waste of our money.
  • Life is no different with it than it was before.
  • No benefit, waste of flying money. Forced Government boondoggle.
  • Good except for disagreement among A&Ps about whether a test flight is mandatory or not.
  • Disappointed by the problems in FAA’s design and flaws during rollout. Keeping in mind it’s unreliable, the value of information in the cockpit is great!
  • Mostly works well. An issue now and then with traffic showing up on G530 and associated iPad. Wx on G530 is intermittent also.
  • I’ll be happier when ATC actually starts using it.
  • The neighborhood crazies who hate noise now know the name and address of the pilot…
  • Have equipped, performance as expected, which is to say nice but not trouble-free.
  • Be very careful relying on ADSB-In for traffic avoidance.
  • Coverage in western KS and Nevada and Utah are poor.
  • So far so good, but how much is the FAA using it vs. radar?
  • No impact re: ATC. Still using old xponder.
  • I was ripped off by the FAA. Medoicre service at 10% the value of my airplane.
  • Equipped, EchoUAT, self-install in homebuilt. Yawn. Overpriced for little value. Glad I didn’t have to bend over like certified owners.
  • Useless thus far.
  • The FAA doesn’t have the system in most of the towers yet but aircraft owners were required to install it by 1/2… Really good FAA!
  • Getting a passing conformance test is a challenge.
  • I’m still waiting for the better routing we were promised.
  • Confused on required in airspace or not.
  • Fine, but small issues…
  • Sucks.
  • The average aircraft owner was abandoned by the alphabet groups. Never should have been a mandate.
  • I still think it’s a load of crap!
  • When asking controllers if they are getting our ADSB, they say “hold on, let me turn it on and check”???
  • More government intrusion.
  • I’ve had it report failure at times. Avionics shop can find no fault.
  • Not going to equip.
  • What’s ADS-B?

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