Trusting the nonhuman factor

Air taxis seem to be the fad of the moment, as the article “All aboard” implies in May’s edition of Aerospace America. With modern technology, I feel sure that these kinds of vehicles could be developed. But how about operating them, especially when Murphy’s law is considered?

Each of these uncrewed aircraft is going to have to have a “keep out” volume of air around it while flying plus an emergency volume below it when (not “if”) Murphy’s Law rears its ugly head. Has anybody looked into the amount of available air volume over the metropolitan areas where these are proposed to operate? This probably becomes even more significant if the taxis fly randomly, as the article notes.

Speaking of uncrewed vehicles, I recall an old story that went something like this:

Preflight announcement: “Welcome to Spacey Airlines and our all-new aircraft. This is the first commercial flight of this highly advanced aircraft which has been under testing for years. You will note that there is no flight crew on board as we have totally automated all of our flight operations. The flight control system has been fully and exhaustively perfected so be assured that nothing can go wrong … can go wrong … can go wrong…” Mr. Murphy had something to say about that!

Carl Ehrlich
AIAA associate fellow emeritus
Calabasas, California

Related Topics

Aircraft Safety

Trusting the nonhuman factor