Top Letters And Comments, July 17, 2020

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Drone Collisions: Maybe Humans Are The Problem

I’ll posit that humans are the problem, but not in the manner stated in this blog. Rather, the problem is that small UAVs (drones) are so easy to operate by common folks, and so comparatively cheap, that anyone without any common sense (or responsibility) can have and operate one. The problem is that drones operate in a realm that has been occupied by manned aircraft for about 100 years now. A realm that has a successful (though arguably sometimes overly complex and beauracratic) framework of keeping thing everything working, provided everyone (or nearly so) follows the rules…and have consequences to pay if they don’t and are caught. But that framework sort of goes by the wayside when people violate it with impunity, as is the case with most errant UAV operations.

People build houses and developments around airports that have been operating for years, and then complain when there are airplanes around, as if it wasn’t obvious. Yet aviation capitulates to be the “nice guy”. Now small UAVs are getting into the airspace that manned aircraft use. Does aviation capitulate to that, too? Even autonomous manned aircraft won’t solve this when humans operate their small UAVs outside of the boundaries they’re provided.

Gary B.

Not so long ago we were being told the likelihood of drone collisions with piloted aircraft was very low. Now they have become so commonplace as to not cut it as news? How is the frequency of drone hits not of interest to pilots and passengers? If drones can be easily “programmed” to avoid other drone traffic, they can be programmed to avoid human-occupied aircraft. The question not addressed in this story is: Were any of the drones involved in collisions operating autonomously? If not, the human drone operators are as much a factor as the human pilots for whom a pitch is being made to conform to drone ops and not the other way around.

Chris K.

Boeing Inks Contract For F-15EX

IMHO, the F-35 is a joke. Yeah … it supposedly has stealth but if it can’t carry enough weaponry internally or in dirty configuration, what good is it unless you’re sneaking up on bad guys? Sometimes, that isn’t necessary. Having been involved with the F-15 from its very inception and having had a couple of opportunities to fly in one, I’m here to tell you that an F-15 with upgraded avionics systems will probably be a winner. Yeah it’s expensive but so is everything. At least it has a track history and can enter service with minimal upgrade training. If you read between the lines … there’s a reason the USAF is doing this beyond the obvious. If I was picking one word to describe this airplane … it’d be “Brute.” One of ’em has even taken out a satellite. This is the first smart move I’ve seen out of the USAF in a while.

Larry S.

Poll: With Boom Rolling Out Soon, Does the World Need Supersonic Travel?

  • The world certainly doesn’t NEED supersonic flight. Whether it will, nevertheless, have its place in aviation is a different matter. The virus pandemic will leave a lasting effect on the industry. People forget, of course, and over time, although that might be a few years, ordinary travel will approach a new normal that will not be too different at its core from what we were used to. In other areas it will be a different picture. Companies and institutions the world over have realised that, what seemed to be a huge mountain to climb, namely to keep intellectual supply chains open and administrative processes running, was a blessing in disguise. If expensive overheads from office space and cumbersome travel accounts can be scrapped, what’s not to like? Therefore, with continuously improving software, coverage (see Starlink), and younger generations that are used to ‘meeting’ in cyberspace anyway, the business travel side will remain reduced, probably significantly so. Interestingly, that might nurture the other extreme – top brass travel. Their use of ordinary air travel (insofar as the turning left on a plane can be called ‘ordinary’) has dropped in the last few years anyway to the benefit of executive plane hire. Some airlines were contemplating scrapping First Class, for example, long before the pandemic. That is where supersonic travel comes in. Time is money for the upper 1%, and when they can cut an hour or so, they will. Even if it is only to stay as briefly as possible in a confined environment with (rightly or wrongly) dodgy air credentials. But in my opinion, it will remain the niche product it has always been. – Peter Mueller
  • Whether there is a need or not is open to debate, but we do need companies to develop the technology and see if it will provide supersonic transportation in an environmentally acceptable design.
  • I think there is a small market with both the need and the ability to pay for it. I assume Boom has done the market research and determined that they have a viable business proposition.
  • Yes, because of the value of new research.
  • It’s a market issue. If the economics will support it, and industry can supply it, why not?
  • Gov’t officials, etc; it could be very useful to them at times. Otherwise…meh.
  • Innovative progress is always welcome.
  • Perhaps not. But that isn’t the point. The real question – do enough individuals need supersonic?
  • I wonder how many of us remember what sonic booms really are like? Cool the first time but as a regular thing, it would get old fast.
  • What the world needs more are planes which use significantly less fuel. Unfortunately, oil-based fuels still provide the best energy density per weight right now.
  • It’s a luxury but will happen.
  • The last thing the world needs is supersonic travel.
  • Gotta keep moving forward.
  • I’m not sure that we NEED supersonic travel, but I do think it’s inevitable as it’s just a natural progression of technology.
  • Probably too expensive, but it’ll be fun to watch.
  • I don’t think so. We need to slow down and “smell the roses.”
  • What does “need” have to do with it?
  • Let the market decide.
  • The rich are so wealthy they need something else to spend their money on.
  • Depends what “need” means, and it’s the wrong question anyway. Technological development will benefit if enough early adopters think they “need” SSTs.
  • Yes. It’s is way overdue.
  • What are the costs to the environment?
  • Only because they want it.
  • Good luck. They will need it.
  • Who cares? Us common folk won’t be able to afford it anyway.

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