Sunday, July 25, 2021
Tuesday, July 20, 2021
In fact Will Lighthorn (sic) who heads up the UK's space endeavour ~ a vanity project if ever there was one ~ says the billionaires are doing us a favour by dumping whatever needs to be dumped in space now that Earth is, like Will himself, full of shit.
This is madness, and something you'd hesitate to call civilisation: the remedy for shit on our door-step being to look for another planet to leave more on... or leave morons?
But the difference between the numbers interested in such ventures now, as against in 1969 when kids stayed up all night, is telling. Literally blink, and you've missed it... which is consolation if nothing else for anyone working in a warehouse instead.
(The views expressed here are not those of the author, but of the author after a glass of Pinot Grigio. He admires every billionaire's efforts to launch humanity into space, or indeed to offer the author a job in his warehouse if things get desperate.)
Monday, July 19, 2021
Sunday, July 18, 2021
Saturday, July 17, 2021
Carbon-fibre tubing has its advantages in constructing drones. It certainly goes some way to explain the price-rise once you shift from the injection-moulded plastics used in domestic quadcopters toward commercial types dedicated to surveys or to filming for the likes of the BBC.
When it comes to using it ~ as I clearly could ~ for personal air vehicles however, it is much like the choice between buying a Maclaren instead of a Mustang (or in my case a seventeen year old Suzuki Jimny).
For your benefit, here's a rough formula I use to remind myself of its properties:
3 : 7 : 21
This is because compared to (non-aviation) aluminium tubing it is three times lighter, seven times stronger, but twenty-one times more expensive... even given the recent hike in global non-ferrous metal prices.
You could argue that because of that superior strength I could reduce the dimensions of the various struts involved (and therefore the cost) but to some extent that process is self-defeating. For as Brunel discovered whilst building London railway bridges using timber, doubling the depth of material involved alone quadrupled its strength.
In fact it was while I was flying for an airline in Germany, with leisure time invariably spent designing and building, that I was first introduced to a length of carbon-fibre tubing at a light-industrial concern of the kind that the country has in abundance.
I was astonished... light as a feather and unbendable despite being only wafer-thin. It is though useless for the rapid-prototyping on which until now I have been engaged, in which I've used and re-used the same sections of sheet and tubular alloy constantly.
It will happen at some stage, however, if only because carbon-fibre and my airframes were meant for each other:
All I want is a room somewhere
Far away from the cold night air
With one enormous chair
In a carbon-fibre airframe
Oh, wouldn’t it be loverly?
Friday, July 16, 2021
Tuesday, July 13, 2021
Monday, July 12, 2021
Sunday, July 11, 2021
Saturday, July 10, 2021
Friday, July 9, 2021
Two-wheel types (Honda Super Cub) outsell four- (Corolla) by 100 million v. 37 million.
Global number of bicycles 2/3rds that of cars (1.0 to 1.5 billion).
25 years into car manufacture, horse-drawn buggies still outnumbered cars.
In the same year (1910) there was one horse for every four people in the USA.
Single occupancy of cars & vans exceeds 60%, moreso on the commute.
For an eighth year running, ATVs hit record sales of 700,000 plus in 2020.
Jet-skis form 25% of all sales of powerboats.
US aviation fleet in 2020: for-hire 6k, airliner 7.5k and GA 205k.
What most effects economies… public transport or private vehicles?
What might most effect 3-D travel… airliner, air-taxi, or personal air vehicle?
Why do institutions, governments, airlines and corporations invest in air taxis...
… that are costly to certify, and in many cases appear only on-screen?
'King’s New Clothes' effect, or the fear of getting it wrong.
(Photo from the Depression, when cars were literally reverted to horse-power).
Capital flows to capitalists like water runs to the sea, and the four latest SPACs for Joby, Lilium, Archer and Vertical are ways of making small fortunes in aviation by starting with a large. The reason few investors are drawn to personal air vehicles is historic, with the Jetsons never taking off and the fact a donkey derby is harder to rate than the Kentucky. Nobody was sacked for buying IBM, while in the UK you're least likely to lose on a venture backed by government, billionaires or Rolls Royce, regardless of credibility. But given the history, could you really bet against a market for air-vehicles with sole occupants?
Flown a variety of types during course of 15,000 hours, much of it in training roles.
Operated US, European, African and Far Eastern… from whence TELEDRONE (!)
Have seen and doubtless been near death in aircraft… (ref Airbus conference).
Airline cadet fatality rate of ‘60s revisited due expansion of aviation in China.
Number of deaths alone due to aviation since 1970 alone exceeds 84,000.
What of the ’Iceberg Effect’ or ratio of incidents to actual accidents?
Or the ratio of unreported incidents to the reported: ref Wizz, BMI, UFOs (!)
Social media is not real life, nor is what you see on YouTube real aviation, for…
“Below the sea of clouds lies eternity.” Saint Exupery.
What defined aviation in the twentieth century was operational experience, whereas what defines its migration toward electrical flight is theory, speculation and experiment. A fear of missing out means airlines and governments need to be seen engaging in technology with uncertain outcome and thus the prospect of significant losses, notwithstanding the effects of externalities like climate-change or pandemics. As Richard Branson has said, space was not something he’d have got into had he known the costs of doing so prior.
Design of helicopters, although fixed, is irreplaceable in many niches.
Helicopters have resisted the addition of wings, without which they can still GLIDE.
As can airplanes, to extent engine-failure is more survivable in singles than in twins…
… except in commercial ops, which are dominated by engine-failure training.
Substitution of multiple motors for a large single rotor is thus seductive…
… but specious, as loss of power is less the issue than controlling what remains.
Nascent eVTOL solution has therefore been to add more motors: 16, 18, 32…
… or else wings to restore gliding ability, assuming no glitches in the hover.
Yet 99% of the world’s drones are quads, yet they’re not falling from the sky.
So is it safer to feel vulnerable with fewer motors, or invulnerable with more?
Are so many PAVs vaporware because motors provide only an illusion of safety?
Will that be addressed by automation and AI?
Did PCs ever crash?
For a while it appeared the main rotor, fruit of decades of evolution and operation, could be readily displaced by a motors, batteries and circuitry as costs fell. Rotorcraft and fixed-wing types have always been able to recover from engine failures, given the capacity to glide. Absent that capacity and fail-safe redundancy becomes an issue of adding so many power-plants that the capital-cost savings are obviated, or relying on automation to replace pilots... so what looks easy at the outset turns out not to be.
The TELEDRONE team is lean and low-profile, like the machine:
Colin: is an ex-airline captain who designs and builds.
Pete: is an entrepreneur who ventures within aviation.
Alex: is a manufacturer.
Tom: is a patent attorney.
Phil: is an electrical engineer.
Mat: is an airline captain and computer-modeller.
Alan: is a video technician and licensed drone-pilot.
GoFly LLC: is a shareholder.
Only UK entrant in the Boeing-sponsored GoFly Challenge at NASA Ames.
Envisioned as a ‘teleportation’ booth inspired by Star Trek and Dr Who.
Originally framed as a flight compartment fixed between drones above and below.
Since developed as an entry-level surface-skimming type for general use.
Flat-pack methodology, fabrication, distribution and assembly.
Lowest feasible part-count, COTS and DIY build philosophy.
IKEA-style assembly for home-storage and recreation.
Combines conventional open propellers with proximity-shutdown safety system.
“A design achieves perfection… when there’s nothing left to take away.” Saint Exupery.
The first mass-produced motor-car in the United States was Olds’ Mobile, lightest and smallest of the eleven prototypes he had developed. Will eVTOL remain the preserve of the well-off, as were motor-cars and airplanes in their infancy, or can we do what Olds did and develop a car that flies, and which can be developed to fly higher and further? Will post-pandemic mobility be dominated ~ in unit sales at least ~ by electrical airliners, air taxis, airborne elevators or personal air vehicles? As the helicopter was a machine in search of an application, is it reasonable to assume that the ‘flying automobile’ is too?