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There will be no overcoming this...

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There will be no overcoming this...

Old 02-06-2020, 09:36 AM
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juvatwad
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It's not just Amazon, FedEx, etc. This is from the WSJ a couple of weeks ago.



IT’S NOT THAT helicopters aren’t safe; it’s that they are not safe enough.

A crash like the one that killed basketball great Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gigi, and seven others last week is a mercifully rare event. The average annual fatality rate for helicopters was 0.63 per 100,000 flight hours, according to the FAA; and in 2018, 24 accidents resulted in 55 deaths, according to the U.S. Helicopter Safety Team, a volunteer industry-government panel. Those figures include fatalities in risky low-altitude operations, including firefighting and utilities work.

But rare isn’t enough for the aerospace designers, manufacturers and financiers who are surfing the first wave of urban air mobility, such as Uber Elevate—services that plan to democratize daily heli-commuting in cities like Los Angeles and Dallas, using fleets of exotic electric rotor copters to ferry thousands over densely populated areas.

“Pilots and FAA regulators have to live and breathe ‘zero mortality’,” said Dr. Martine Rothblatt who, in addition to being the founder and chair of United Therapeutics, a biotech firm pioneering organ-replacement therapies, is a crazy helicopter pilot. “I love my Bell,” she said.

‘Cheaper than helicopters, eVTOLs could soon provide a zero-emissions alternative to ground-scraping transportation.’

I happened to meet Dr. Rothblatt last November at Ross Perot Jr.’s ranch near Fort Worth. RPJr. was hosting TexasUP, an invite-only conference for players in the multivariately disruptive, going-to-be-huge field of aeromobility—delivery drones, electrically powered vertical-takeoff-and-landing (eVTOL) vehicles, air taxis, and personal air vehicles, or PAVs. I call them aeromobiles.

These are the flying cars we were promised by futurists such as the recently departed Syd Mead and Norman Bel Geddes. By design faster, quieter, and dramatically cheaper per-mile than helicopters, eVTOLs could soon provide superfun, zero-emissions alternatives to ground-scraping transportation.

This potentially trillion-dollar industry will fly or stay grounded—said practically everybody, one way or another—depending on public perceptions of safety. For air mobility to meaningfully replace automobility, Dr. Rothblatt said, the eVTOL industry has to benchmark the safety standards not of cars or helicopters or private planes, but commercial airliners. For reference, the fatality rate for commercial jet travel globally in 2018 was on the order of one death per three million flights, not flight hours. That’s rare.

Kobe’s crash reminded me of this dinner conversation, shared among a table of expert pilots steeped in the culture of risk management. I must say I didn’t appreciate how challenging flying these machines can be. I told a story about landing on the lawn of the Le Beauvallon hotel in Saint-Tropez, last year, in a narrow opening between towering trees. My 22-year-old pilot confided that the approach terrified him because he had no room to move laterally if he was caught in a downdraft. A lot of solemn nodding around the table. At one point Elan Head, a freelance author and helo pilot who was sitting next to me, mentioned that she had lost five friends in five separate accidents. That rocked me.
The UP conference ran over two days, with TED Talk-like presentations every 20 minutes or so, a dronapalooza. Some of the names were familiar. Daimler has partnered with air mobility startup Volocopter to develop a two-seat, 18-rotor air taxi. Porsche is working with Boeing to conceptualize “premium urban air mobility vehicles.” Would a flying 911 Carrera hold any interest for consumers, you think?

Other car makers jumping into the sky include Toyota, which in January announced a $394 million investment in Silicon Valley-based Joby Aviation; and Hyundai, which has partnered with Uber for the S-A1 air taxi concept seen at this year’s CES. These two, as well as the Bell Nexus air taxi have been drafted into Uber Elevate’s first air armada, with limited service beginning 2023.

That roster might lead you to think that flocks of semi-robotic eggbeaters—assuming they are approved by the FAA—will provide an alternative to cars; but they won’t, at least not at first. EVTOLs will first supplant for-hire, passenger-carrying helicopters like Kobe’s.

And that will be good news, safety-wise, this table of seasoned chopper pilots agreed. The eVTOLs being prototyped have a number of inherent advantages over helicopters. Most obviously, helicopters lack redundant backup in case of failure in the rotor or mast assembly. Most urban air mobility vehicles will rely on distributed electric propulsion, i.e., multiple rotors. Such vehicles will be able to survive failure of one or more rotors.

Several air taxis in development are designed to operate with or without a pilot on board, remotely piloted or autonomously. Having uncrewed and autonomous machines in the air will require a new kind of air traffic system to keep track of them. An Unmanned Aircraft System Traffic Management—think A.I.-enhanced ground control, all-knowing, instantly adjudicating “dynamic spatial deconfliction” without the delay of humans in the loop—would improve situational awareness for crewed operations, as well.

EVTOLs will fly by-wire and will be algorithmically constrained from exceeding the vehicles’ flight “envelope”—its dynamic capacities—and will automatically self-stabilize. They will be equipped with robust machine vision, sense-and-avoid programming and other AI avionics. Helicopters, and their pilots, are much more free to lose control.

The connection to cars comes to this: As cities, like L.A., grind to a halt in their own daily traffic, more affluent commuters, like Kobe, are resorting to helicopters. But helicopters are too big, too loud, and too expensive to serve a wider audience. And, most of all, their safety won’t scale. Fortunately, there will soon be a better way to fly.

Write to Dan Neil at [email protected]
Old 02-06-2020, 12:40 PM
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For major metropolitan areas, you're probably right. There will be no room left for recreational R/C flight except for very low altitudes and (hopefully) a network of FRIAs.

But that's no reason to shut things down for the other 95% of the country...
Old 02-06-2020, 04:39 PM
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Originally Posted by grognard View Post
For major metropolitan areas, you're probably right. There will be no room left for recreational R/C flight except for very low altitudes and (hopefully) a network of FRIAs.

But that's no reason to shut things down for the other 95% of the country...
Believe it or not I agree with you. IF ONLY PEOPLE WOULD FOLLOW THE RULES. But too many don't. And the manufacturers, distributors, and retailers (those who are making all the money) don't care one bit. So for safety reasons the rules have to be tightened for everyone because of those few who just want to "have fun" their own way and to h--l with everyone else.
Old 02-06-2020, 05:05 PM
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Hundreds of millions of dollars invested from the likes of Porsche, Boeing, and Toyota suggest to me there will eventually be no uncontrolled airspace, from 0 AGL to the stratosphere.
Old 02-06-2020, 06:42 PM
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Originally Posted by juvatwad View Post
Hundreds of millions of dollars invested from the likes of Porsche, Boeing, and Toyota suggest to me there will eventually be no uncontrolled airspace, from 0 AGL to the stratosphere.
"Uncontrolled" airspace is a funny term. It has nothing to do with the presence or absence of control towers, or whether an aircraft's flight path is being "controlled" by someone other than the pilot.

All that "uncontrolled" airspace really means is that ATC doesn't provide separation for IFR traffic. Pilots are ALWAYS responsible for "seeing and avoiding" traffic when flying VFR, but IFR separation is provided by ATC when flying in controlled airspace.

If you mean there will eventually be no UN-USED airspace -- that's a different matter!
Old 02-06-2020, 06:49 PM
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Originally Posted by rgburrill View Post
So for safety reasons the rules have to be tightened for everyone because of those few who just want to "have fun" their own way and to h--l with everyone else.
Sorry but the FAA isn't touting "safety" as the main reason for this NPRM. They view Remote ID as a necessary foundation for a new traffic management system - UTM (Unmanned Traffic Management).

Manned aircraft have always depended on "see and avoid" to prevent collisions when flying VFR. But drones can't "see", and there are too many of them, they fly too low, and are too hard for ATC to "see" to be separated by the current ATM system. The theory is that UTM will allow drones to "detect and avoid" each other because each drone will provide position and altitude information to UTM in real-time.

"Safety" in the FAA's mind is fundamentally about keeping drones below full-scale traffic. That's the reason for the 400 foot limit -- which has nothing to do with this NPRM.

Old 02-06-2020, 08:21 PM
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Correct, and since these players want to transport people ( not inanimate products) the case can be made that there will be no room for an RC airplane in any airspace.
Old 02-06-2020, 09:44 PM
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It would be nice if the FAA would be honest about what it really wants to accomplish and I agree with much of the commits on this page. The best way to keep separation between whatever it is the FAA
wants to allow is keep all commercial traffic above 2,000' except emergency aircraft. Commercial Traffic that needs to fly low such as delivery craft and taking pics stay at or below 200' and stay
away from overflying know RC activity and or stay within a certain distance of the property they have business at. Next corridors should be established for low flying commercial to get from one
job to another and also for craft that fly over 2000' to get up and down.

Rc aircraft would be required to Know where all Commercial corridors are in their area are and if not at a fixed site would have check with the FAA any and every time they operate.
I think in most cases RC hobby craft could fly up to 1500' at fixed sites and some other places if not interfering with commercial taking off or landing.

Last edited by ira d; 02-06-2020 at 09:48 PM.
Old 02-07-2020, 07:44 AM
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Originally Posted by juvatwad View Post
Correct, and since these players want to transport people ( not inanimate products) the case can be made that there will be no room for an RC airplane in any airspace.
Not really. Delivery drones and electric air taxis will be short ranged, so most operations will be in or near major metropolitan areas. Those of us who live in "fly over country" may never see one of these things.

There is also no reason why commercial traffic can't "detect and avoid" RC models equipped with Remote ID. And models flown LOS in a FRIA can be avoided simply by going around the FRIA.

Originally Posted by ira d View Post
The best way to keep separation between whatever it is the FAA wants to allow is keep all commercial traffic above 2,000' except emergency aircraft. Commercial Traffic that needs to fly low such as delivery craft and taking pics stay at or below 200' and stayaway from overflying know RC activity and or stay within a certain distance of the property they have business at.
The airspace around major airports is already severely congested with full scale traffic, especially at certain times of day when airliners are making connections, and certain times of the night when package delivery services are doing the same. Add commercial drones to that mix and the existing ATC system will be totally overwhelmed. Plus for drones there's no range or fuel economy advantage to operating at higher altitudes.

Originally Posted by ira d View Post
Next corridors should be established for low flying commercial to get from one job to another and also for craft that fly over 2000' to get up and down.
Approach and descent "corridors" already exist; that's why the floor of uncontrolled airspace is at 400' near major airports, and lower on the published approach routes.

A better idea for "commercial drone corridors" might be to route them at low altitudes over major highways. These are easy to find and follow, and tend to be obstruction free once you get above the bridges and light poles. It's also an unlikely place to encounter RC model traffic. Collision risk could be minimized by staying right of the centerline. And in the event of a failure the people below are relatively well protected, convertible drivers excepted...
Old 02-07-2020, 10:44 AM
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Originally Posted by grognard View Post
Not really. Delivery drones and electric air taxis will be short ranged, so most operations will be in or near major metropolitan areas. Those of us who live in "fly over country" may never see one of these things.

There is also no reason why commercial traffic can't "detect and avoid" RC models equipped with Remote ID. And models flown LOS in a FRIA can be avoided simply by going around the FRIA.



The airspace around major airports is already severely congested with full scale traffic, especially at certain times of day when airliners are making connections, and certain times of the night when package delivery services are doing the same. Add commercial drones to that mix and the existing ATC system will be totally overwhelmed. Plus for drones there's no range or fuel economy advantage to operating at higher altitudes.



Approach and descent "corridors" already exist; that's why the floor of uncontrolled airspace is at 400' near major airports, and lower on the published approach routes.

A better idea for "commercial drone corridors" might be to route them at low altitudes over major highways. These are easy to find and follow, and tend to be obstruction free once you get above the bridges and light poles. It's also an unlikely place to encounter RC model traffic. Collision risk could be minimized by staying right of the centerline. And in the event of a failure the people below are relatively well protected, convertible drivers excepted...
I agree with routing commercial traffic over highways and streets because there should be no RC hobby traffic there either. Bottom line is the FAA needs to find specific places for this influx of commercial
traffic they are expecting and tell hobby traffic to well clear of these places. As for corridors to ascend and descend I think a lot of this new traffic that is being proposed will be away from airports and
they need their own corridors.

I say there is no need to try and track all hobby RC but just let them have their own places to fly for one and two for some degree let them fly at places where there is no commercial corridor.
Old 02-07-2020, 03:06 PM
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I hope you will submit those ideas as a formal NPRM review comment.

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