Private aviation for the masses? January 18, 2009Posted by federalist in Transportation.
I am not uninitiated in the science and practice of aviation, but I am continually bewildered by the lack of technological and commercial development in bringing private aircraft to the masses.
- Why are rotary-wing aircraft still so outrageously expensive to operate?
- Why isn’t fly-by-wire technology penetrating general aviation? Private cars are now universally equipped not only with electronic engine control but also with multiple vehicle stability control systems that prevent drivers from exceeding safe operating envelopes. Analogous systems on aircraft would bring safer vehicles within reach of people with less time and money for training than the hobbiests who presently dominate general aviation.
- Why is decentralized air traffic control still not the norm?
At least Kirk Hawkins offers a step in the right direction: He aims to fill the relatively new “light sport” niche carved out by the FAA with an seaplane whose wings easily fold for towing and whose controls are designed only for VFR (daylight, fair-weather) flight. Essentially, it’s the aircraft equivalent of a sports car or personal watercraft. A former F-16 pilot, Hawkins notes:
Flying had this complex, regulated-transportation mentality, but the best flying I’ve ever done was always at low altitudes with the window open.