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  #11  
Old September 27th, 2018, 09:52 PM
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Most likely use for cheap rugged air transports.

Within urban areas they might establish landing areas on top of buildings with an elevator to the garage, since trying to land on a crowded street sounds super unsafe.

Likely anything that's mobile and motorized will get a transponder in the future, with a remote override, and will have an autopilot, optimized to find the fastest and safest route to your destination, and the possibility of taking your electronic environment with you, tends to remove the motivation to just step on the accelerator.

In the context of Traveller, I doubt most families can afford an air/raft, at best a beloved legacy that gets inherited and passed from generation to generation, so cheaper alternatives will be utilized.
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Old September 27th, 2018, 10:13 PM
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I have major problems seeing them in downtown Chicago And that does not even count the Elevated train, or the wind tunnel effect of the buildings. Have they been tested in extremely tight quarters with 50 mile an hour wind gusts?
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Old September 27th, 2018, 11:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by timerover51 View Post
I have major problems seeing them in downtown Chicago And that does not even count the Elevated train, or the wind tunnel effect of the buildings. Have they been tested in extremely tight quarters with 50 mile an hour wind gusts?
The article hints at the air-taxis probably being a part of a larger ecosystem. So air-taxi to Navy Pier/Lakefront Airport/Greektown/River North (Uber’s helipads) then a traditional ground car into the Loop proper. Probably there are several buildings in the Loop that can and do host a helipad but your point is pertinent as the wind gusts are definitely non-trivial.

Even though that may sound somewhat tedious I can imagine international execs taking an air-taxi from O’Hare to Lakefront Airport then a car to the Board of Trade, turning a 90 minute trip into a 20 minute one.
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Old September 27th, 2018, 11:57 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fovean View Post
The article hints at the air-taxis probably being a part of a larger ecosystem. So air-taxi to Navy Pier/Lakefront Airport/Greektown/River North (Uber’s helipads) then a traditional ground car into the Loop proper. Probably there are several buildings in the Loop that can and do host a helipad but your point is pertinent as the wind gusts are definitely non-trivial.

Even though that may sound somewhat tedious I can imagine international execs taking an air-taxi from O’Hare to Lakefront Airport then a car to the Board of Trade, turning a 90 minute trip into a 20 minute one.
What Lake Front Airport? Meigs Field was plowed up by Richey Daley quite a few years ago. I would not hold my breath on trying to get another one in place.

Then there are things like sleet storms, blizzards with zero visibility, and fogs with ditto coming in off of the Lake with essentially no warning. Landing even an air duct vehicle on the Lakefront in the middle of a blizzard, with the duct blast sending large quantities of snow into the air is not something to be considered casually. As for the tilt-rotor job, land one of those in the middle of an intersection in downtown Chicago, and you will be decapitating quite a few pedestrians, who give right-of-way to nothing.

Finally, how does operating an electric flying vehicle in the middle of a fast-moving thunderstorm line work?
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Old September 28th, 2018, 12:40 AM
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In the 80s I saw a medical chopper drop down right outside our ER. This was in-between 3 10-story buildings and was obviously hot enough to require that instead of the landing pad a few hundred yards away (or maybe the pad was out of service).



What could be a hotshot life or death situation could become routine for an autopilot.


A few blocks from there a hotel had it's own pad and stationed chopper for several years. I could see hotels and office complexes vying for pad space offerings, free facilities or even incentives to have the most convenience while it was a hot new and limited service. Then it would transition to 'expected' and any facility that didn't have one is on it's way to second class status.
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Old September 28th, 2018, 01:38 AM
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Originally Posted by Whipsnade View Post
I never should have used that term because you can't look past it.

No heliports. Designated landing/takeoff areas like the taxicab stands of old.

And Detroit? There will be people in Detroit using the service? I don't think a flying car service is going to take EBT...
Given the aircraft Uber is proposing, it's going to need 10m squares or more.

Given the 4x5m open rotor the Chinese are already putting into trials, that's going to need dedicated landing spaces with several m clearance beyond due to the open rotors.

Its not that it's your term; it's the appropriate term for the needed safety space for any/every open-rotor design.

An open rotor necessitates a relatively secure access for safety reasons, as the rotors are a lethal risk to careless bystanders. That means marked off, and enforced vacancy of, landing areas. That means dedicated landing zones - helipads/heliports.

The ducted fan designs, at least the few I've seen on various documentaries, being more car sized and shaped, and presenting a much lower threat risk, won't need the dedicated stand; they're not the same level of risk, nor the same level of needed infrastructure to mitigate that risk.

Uber's shown design is comparable to a double-wide or triple-wide load - not going to be safe downtown, even if the landing stand is present. It's not a V-22, but it's still more than 8m wide - and that's assuming a 1.5m cockpit width - plus the rotor extension.

Ehang's is about 1.2 lanes wide - looks like about 4 x 5m (roughly 13' x 16') - still oversized - but reasonable for being able to land pretty much anywhere that traffic will yield, including most private driveways and many downtown plazas and parking lots - but the open rotor design is a safety hazard.

Take Ehang's, bring the rotors closer abeam, and put them in nacelles. Then you have a device which, while generating a good blast of wind, is reasonably safe to have in traffic for short periods.

Or, with a bit more of a mass-hit, have them swing-out for flight mode, in for landing amidst traffic in a parking spot.

Putting Uber's, even with the rotors ducted or in a nacelle, downtown is just going to be tight. It's going to need a dedicated pad, due to blocking 3-4 lanes worth. You're right to a point - in that the Uber design will require a pad, even with safety-increases from enclosing the props - simply because the form-factor is wrong for the environment and the task. It won't be "Air travel at push button" - it will be "Make appointment for departure in an hour from pad X, and schedule me a driver to get to the pad."

Meanwhile, beasts more like the Ehang can, and will, be able to negotiate the downtown districts, and, once the rotors aren't exposed, can be reasonably allowed to land in extant parking places. In areas with major plant overhang, you'll need a little infrastructure to make use of the intersection to get under the trees... but you won't need the dedicated landing space.

Once you have the downtown connection to the wealthy burbs, you're in like Flynn. In Anchorage, that's 5-20 km. Geneva Woods and Roger's Park are about 5 km from downtown. Sand Lake and Jewel Lake both have some wealthy neighborhoods, and are 10-15km out from downtown. Bayshore (stupidly expensive) and the Hillside (insanely expensive - almost LA levels) are about 20 km out.
Corvallis lacks any visible "wealthy burbs" - but has some surprisingly well-heeled college students (thanks, OSU; can we get the *'s off the *ing roads?), and being able to hop around the Corvallis area is going to be a status symbol for the wealthier students.

Uber's design won't work well in either the Corvallis/Albany area nor in Anchorage. Nor in Portland - Portlanders love their tree shaded neighborhoods. Seattle/Tacoma also has many tree-lined neighborhoods - the wealthier, the more likely...

As for Detroit... note I said detroit-metro. dozens of cities across a six-county area in search of a common identity. Still a huge conurbation, even if City-of-Detroit (0.6 M people) is the land of urban homesteading. Still, the overall area is "thriving"... and 4.3 million people. And much of the metro area is rolling waves of suburb.
https://patch.com/michigan/rochester...a-still-strong (webpage article)
For fairness, I have kinfolk and friends in the Detroit Metro area. And that's not counting Windsor, Ontario, south across the water.

I've seen LA, San Francisco, and San Diego - and yeah, lots of wires in some neighborhoods - but the wealthy ones don't tend to have a lot on street. Flying over LA rather than driving through it has been a stated dream of several wealthy (including some notably eccentric) celebrities. Not all of hollywood has a love affair with cars like Mr. Leno does.

Now, some urbanizations of low density will be perfect for the smaller "hail a drone" - teens in the outlying areas of, oh, say, Wasilla, Kenai/Soldotna (Alaska), Alsea, Adair, and Lebanon (Oregon), many places on the Hawaiian Islands (except Oahu... NAS/NSY Pearl Harbor and MCAS Kaneohe will create blockout zones for national security... but drone tours of Oahu are likely going to be all the rage - Helo-tours already are a common touristy thing.)
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  #17  
Old September 28th, 2018, 02:22 AM
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If Uber thinks that they are going to be calling operators of air taxis independent contractors, they need to quit dreaming and encounter the Real World.

Air Taxis are not going to be cheap. You are going to be looking at the cost of a light plane as a minimum, or more. That means that Uber is going to find itself in the air service business, with all that entails, including liability for its product. Then there is the ability to pump a massive charge of electricity in a very short time into those batteries. That is going to mean dedicated charging areas, which can handle massive changes of power draw. What happens when your aerial Uber is running into a 30 mile an hour head wind, and finds itself running short of juice well short of its destination, and has to land while it still can? Is Uber going to run a mobile charging service, with some pretty big generators on trucks? What happens the first time some Uber air taxi operator decides to push his or her luck, and looses, leaving some dead passengers and/or dead on the ground? Does anyone want to guess what the insurance costs are going to be?

How is say, Chicago, going to react the first time one of the air taxis brushes a downtown office building and sends a few dozen plate glass windows screaming earthward until the unsuspecting pedestrians, killing one or two or more? The answer to that should be easy. No more air taxies allowed in Chicago air space, with the air taxi driver indicted for vehicular homicide, and the lawsuits against Uber for wrongful death flying out of the courthouse windows.

I will not even get into the issue of air space sharing with O'Hare and Midway.
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Old September 28th, 2018, 03:33 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by timerover51 View Post
If Uber thinks that they are going to be calling operators of air taxis independent contractors, they need to quit dreaming and encounter the Real World.

Air Taxis are not going to be cheap.
The smaller drone based ones are in the same range as luxury automobiles, currently. It's well within the realm of doable. (mind you, general aviation planes, like the Cessna 172, are about $190,000. But that's got 5 hours endurance or more, and 600 miles range, burns 80/88 or better avgas)

Note that Uber (and Ehang, and all the other serious folk working on it) are NOT saying they're going to be hiring owner-pilots - they're going to be remote programmed autopilot, with some limited interface aboard, and most likely an anticollision system built in.

Plus, the FAR's limit civil recoverability for anything other than malicious intent or pilot negligence.

The city might try to ban air-taxis, but the FAA controls all air-flight authorization from ground up... if the FAA approves it, the city has to suck it up.

The FAA is, within the US, the hardest hurdle.

https://www.faa.gov/news/updates/?newsId=76240 (2014 FAQ.)
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Old September 28th, 2018, 05:11 AM
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I suspect that the FAA is simply going to consider anything that the various companies come up with in the same category as helicopters, which basically they will be, as they will be vertical take-off and landing aircraft carrying passengers. That will mean a pilot with a commercial helicopter license, transponder for Air Traffic Control and subject to full Air Traffic Control rules, and all required safety features.

They will come under the following FAA Directorate. Emphasis added. They will come under the "powered-lift aircraft" category.

Quote:
FAA regulations and policy related to engineering certification of rotorcraft and powered-lift aircraft
https://www.faa.gov/aircraft/air_cer...ls/rotorcraft/

When you add what it is going to cost to get the FAA to certify any of these ideas, you are no longer in the luxury car class. You are looking at a minimum of $200,000 a copy and probably a lot more, which means that you are not going to be using these aircraft, and they are aircraft, as casual taxis. Is Uber will to cough up the cash that it will take to get FAA certification? We are talking multi-millions of dollars here.
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Old September 29th, 2018, 12:06 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by timerover51 View Post
I suspect that the FAA is simply going to consider anything that the various companies come up with in the same category as helicopters, which basically they will be, as they will be vertical take-off and landing aircraft carrying passengers. That will mean a pilot with a commercial helicopter license, transponder for Air Traffic Control and subject to full Air Traffic Control rules, and all required safety features.

They will come under the following FAA Directorate. Emphasis added. They will come under the "powered-lift aircraft" category.



https://www.faa.gov/aircraft/air_cer...ls/rotorcraft/

When you add what it is going to cost to get the FAA to certify any of these ideas, you are no longer in the luxury car class. You are looking at a minimum of $200,000 a copy and probably a lot more, which means that you are not going to be using these aircraft, and they are aircraft, as casual taxis. Is Uber will to cough up the cash that it will take to get FAA certification? We are talking multi-millions of dollars here.
They already have a separate category for drones. Have had since 2014.
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