Top Letters And Comments, March 12, 2020

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Already Had My Electric Airplane, Thank You

Eventually pilots flying piston aircraft will be like pilots flying taildraggers now. Some will respect the extra skill required, while many will be puzzled why people still bother with old technology when there is the magic of one switch, one handle, electric flight.

My goal is to be “that old guy” who insists on leaving his oil drooling radial engine antique on the ramp and covers all the shiny plastic electric airplanes with a smog of smoke on every start up!

David G.

The problem with any power system, be it electric, internal combustion, hydraulic, rubber, is that it needs backups (a plane with everything powered by electrics needs dual buses, dual generators, and so on, while one where everything is hydraulic needs dual pumps, and so on.

That’s what making hybrid-powered aircraft so interesting, and challenging. Why not have a diesel engine on one side and an electric motor on the other? Or in a push-pull arrangement, like a Cessna 337? Or have them powering the same propeller, via a differential, as many hybrid cars do?!

Thrilling times ahead!

Tord S. E.

Pilot Shortage Threatens Airline Recovery

This study assumes a ‘V’-shaped recovery and return to the original demand curve as if Covid never happened. Easily the most optimistic and high-demand assumption.

Reality is probably going to be a more gradual return to a lower demand curve – more people are working and meeting remotely for one thing. In addition, a lot of wealth has been consumed or destroyed by the Covid response, so I expect there will be lower demand from holiday makers for a long time as well.

So I’ll believe there is a pilot ‘shortage’ when I see one. It’s a much rarer thing than many groups would have us believe.

Cameron G.

Each year we have less pilots meaning less of everything aviation. We may not like sharing the skies with millions of other aircraft wondering in every direction but, no industry can survive with the prices we are paying today. The cost of operation of the simplest aircraft is just too high today and going higher rapidly. Aviation cannot rely on flight simulators for training. Only real-life experience in a real aircraft give the life and death experiences required to truly train and make a calm knowledgeable pilot.

The airlines are hiring pilots with 500 hours. To me, an airline pilot sitting in the right seat on their first flight should be able to seamlessly take over the aircraft if anything goes wrong. It’s not happening and passengers and aviation as a whole is paying the ultimate price.

Klaus M.

Will SpaceX Ever Graduate To All-Up Testing?

I am impressed with SpaceX and Elon Musk. From visionary conception to today, Musk has actually accomplished much rather than the usual computer-generated video artist/visionary renderings of things hoped for. Plus, SpaceX is not the only thing happening within Muskdom. He built electric cars among other interesting gadgets. While he has his visionary peculiarities, he is one of the few who can take things from conception to working production. SpaceX is the external force, just like JFK and George Mueller were in the 60s to accelerate the status quo. Musk wants to go to Mars. To get there, he will blow up a few more rockets, gather accurate and reliable data in the most spectacular way, while being ignored more and more by our growing cell phone toting society that will be desensitized from Paul’s current assessment of 6 seconds to less than three. In other words, he will be ON Mars while most will be oblivious he even left Earth. Manned flight will come as seamlessly as it did when he started shuttling crews to ISS. And it will be no big deal to John Q Public.

Jim H.

Poll: When Will Elon Musk’s SpaceX Get Humans to Mars?

  • Putting an exact date on their effort to reach Mars is pointless. In view of the huge number of technical hurdles SpaceX will have to overcome, and the fact that they have yet to have a totally successful flight of the Starship, a date certain is impossible to know. This isn’t the space race to the Moon. SpaceX needs to follow the science and go when it is safe, and not worry about any timeline.
  • 2030, and they will probably die there.
  • Elon Musk will lose interest first and move on to other things.
  • As soon as it shows profit.
  • Minimum 10 years probably 15.
  • The more important question is when will he get them to Mars and back to Earth alive.
  • When someone else pays for it.
  • Never.
  • Orbit or landing? It makes a difference…
  • 2036-2042
  • His empire will collapse when subsidies are removed and someone dies in one of his try-patch-crash-again experiments.
  • Will SpaceX return them too?
  • 2040 or beyond.
  • Humans as an invasive species should not be allowed off this planet.
  • Someday, perhaps, if it seems worthwhile after it is possible.
  • Not for at least 50 years or when he runs out of money, whichever comes first.
  • When they are ready to make that leap.
  • 2160
  • Don’t care!
  • He may get them there but he’ll never get them back.
  • While science indicates the human race is killing our planet, why would we want to populate a planet that’s already dead?

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