TED Conversations

raffaele grieco

This conversation is closed.

Ultralight planes: a possible future for medium to long distance mass trasportation?

Cheap, easy to pilot, easier to mantain.

ULM aircrafts are modern, two seated, car gas propelled planes, usually flown for leisure and turism. An entry level two seated plane can cost as much as a good scooter, costs a fraction of a general aviation plane to buy and mantain, can fly @200kmh at cruise speed, have an average of 500km range and can take off land anywhere from 500 mt grass strips (some can land on river shores and open sea, too). In Italy there are almost 150 privately held airstrips are available mostly free for landing fees, together with all the minor and medium airports open for general aviation planes.

So, why dont think of it as a means of personal and family transportation for medium to long distances? If we consider an average 4 hr car trip, depending of how far your nearest airstrip could be, and another one at your destination point, and commuting from these two places, it could be faster and cheaper to get there by your own plane.

What are the main problems against this idea, today? Weather, because they need good weather to fly; State endorsement: because, as it is, air transport belongs solely to air companies and thus airports and other facilities, even if airspace within a national domain are State properties properties, and also because car industry lead many countries economies like US, Germany, France, Japan and Italy. Security: in aviation, security is a scarecrow that keeps people away, make them spend much more, makes a tragedy of each and every event. The impossible of making a human activity riskless is killing personal aviation, leaving only the big players. If aviation security were applied to cars, they would cost tenfold and a fraction would ever hit the roads.

If proper investment were available, i think a cheap 4-seated all-weather ultralight plane, with a S-trasponder, and enough technology onboard to dumb piloting processes down to those required to drive a car could be within reach in a very short time

Share:

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • thumb
    Aug 4 2013: And why not liberalize (even more) the commercial use of balloons? Recently a balloon with tourists fell down and crashed. Yesterday, here in Spainan ULM also crashed, with victims. Ed, I totally agree. If ULM were for general use, even observing severe laws and instructions, most of us could not feel safe anyway. Your arguments are well balanced and full of good sense.
    Rafaelle, your question is very interesant and offers nice outlooks, but in my opinion, if you'll ask to the people about it, 8 of 10 people would't support the idea, I'm afraid.
    • Aug 4 2013: you are blinded by the news. the news, the news. Do every car accident make it to the news anymore? Who cares about the x-th car accident? People are afraid to fly. This is true. So every paper plane falling is big news. Every non event happened in an airport is worth mentioning "a tragedy was about to happen", while you need at least 5 people dead and at least a child to mention a car incident.

      Look at statistics. Confront this idea with hard fact. Leave the news to those that make a living out of building hype.

      Think about this situation 200 years ago. Think about horses and the first cars. Think about infrastructure dedicated to horse riding and horse propelled carriages. Think about the first cars. arent your concerns exactly the same of those horse riding? Who would youagree with? Who would you side with?
      • thumb
        Aug 5 2013: Dear Raffaele:
        Not at all. I do also worry about car accidents. Very much. By the way, .. speaking about car accidents, I'd not like to see some of the ones I see driving a car in a certain condiction, at the controls of an airplane. . . flying over our heads. And you?
        Please, don't think news are so important. I worked some years as a sort of traffic security surveyor.
        Sincerely,
        Sean.

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.