Airbus: Future Flights to be Piloted by Computers Allowing them to Fly in Formation Like Flocks of Geese

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    Sep 13, 2012 11:03 AM GMT
    http://www.newscientist.com/blogs/onepercent/2012/09/will-computers-or-humans-fly-a.html

    One day "intelligent" passenger aircraft will cruise across oceans in low-drag, energy-saving formations, like flocks of geese. So said European plane-maker Airbus at its annual technology look-ahead conference last night. It's a striking idea that media outlets lapped up.

    Warming to its theme, Airbus added that emissions could be cut by using a superfast ground vehicle to catapult future aircraft into the air, so that it reaches cruising speed and altitude faster. And it could land with the engines switched off, in a long, controlled "free glide" to the runway.

    But how will this stuff actually work? With computers, of course. "Highly intelligent aircraft would be able to self organise and select the most efficient and environmentally friendly routes," says Airbus.
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    Sep 13, 2012 2:02 PM GMT
    That's a bad-ass looking concept.

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  • FitGwynedd

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    Sep 13, 2012 2:29 PM GMT
    I imagine it woud make a very turbulent ride because of the way aircraft disrupt the air. Also I can't really see any fuel savings to this, as aircraft would have to travel hundreds or thousands of miles of their routes just to fly in formation with each other, as it is unlikely that from a supply and demand point of view that it would be economically smart to have seven transatlantic flights all going to the same destination take off and land at once. Makes a good convo topic however.
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    Sep 13, 2012 2:45 PM GMT
    FitGwynedd saidI imagine it woud make a very turbulent ride because of the way aircraft disrupt the air. Also I can't really see any fuel savings to this, as aircraft would have to travel hundreds or thousands of miles of their routes just to fly in formation with each other, as it is unlikely that from a supply and demand point of view that it would be economically smart to have seven transatlantic flights all going to the same destination take off and land at once. Makes a good convo topic however.


    There are however some fairly established flight paths so that you don't have to go to the same destination but can travel together for say several hundred miles or even a few thousand - between east coast, to west coast, or between continents. The way geese fly, they fly a lot more efficiently and further distances... it's similar to say following at the right distance (fairly close) to a tractor trailer when you drive.

    If you doubt that there is enough demand, have a look at this (realtime tracking for all public transponders in the air):
    http://www.flightradar24.com/
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    Sep 13, 2012 2:47 PM GMT
    yeah- we can't even get a supersonic much less hypersonic transport and they have time to come up with this crap. icon_rolleyes.gif
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    Sep 13, 2012 3:01 PM GMT
    icon_biggrin.gif now the handsome pilots can come and sandwich me back here.
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    Sep 13, 2012 3:56 PM GMT
    Piloted by a computer? We are getting there! icon_wink.gif

    "Ensign, set a course to the nearest star system!"

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    Sep 13, 2012 4:02 PM GMT
    riddler78 saidhttp://www.newscientist.com/blogs/onepercent/2012/09/will-computers-or-humans-fly-a.html



    Nah, I don't think so. There's not enough traffic to justify it.

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    Sep 13, 2012 6:19 PM GMT
    desertmuscl said
    riddler78 saidhttp://www.newscientist.com/blogs/onepercent/2012/09/will-computers-or-humans-fly-a.html



    Nah, I don't think so. There's not enough traffic to justify it.

    If you doubt that there is enough demand, have a look at this (realtime tracking for all public transponders in the air):
    http://www.flightradar24.com/
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    Sep 13, 2012 6:28 PM GMT
    if it's not boeing, i'm not going
  • groundcombat

    Posts: 945

    Sep 13, 2012 8:15 PM GMT
    riddler78 said
    desertmuscl said
    riddler78 saidhttp://www.newscientist.com/blogs/onepercent/2012/09/will-computers-or-humans-fly-a.html



    Nah, I don't think so. There's not enough traffic to justify it.

    If you doubt that there is enough demand, have a look at this (realtime tracking for all public transponders in the air):
    http://www.flightradar24.com/


    Cool site but considering that the plane figures are not to scale (zoom in to get a more realistic picture) and they could further be separated by flying at different altitudes, I'd say we're still not even close to there yet.
  • FitGwynedd

    Posts: 1468

    Sep 13, 2012 9:34 PM GMT
    desertmuscl said
    riddler78 saidhttp://www.newscientist.com/blogs/onepercent/2012/09/will-computers-or-humans-fly-a.html



    Nah, I don't think so. There's not enough traffic to justify it.



    Not enough traffic BY A LONG SHOT. Especially considering that long term projections show the decline in overland air travel with the continued advancements in railway technology.
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    Sep 13, 2012 9:53 PM GMT
    And should the computer crash mid flight....
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    Sep 13, 2012 10:30 PM GMT
    NotThatOld saidAnd should the computer crash mid flight....


    technology already exists to avert that possibility (as much as possible anyway) NASA's shuttles had multiple computers onboard to ensure a computer crash wouldn't disastrously affect flight. Yes there were shuttle tragedies but those were human error not computer
  • Sayrnas

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    Sep 13, 2012 10:45 PM GMT
    Skynet.
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    Sep 13, 2012 11:44 PM GMT
    riddler78 saidNah, I don't think so. There's not enough traffic to justify it.
    Consider that from 4pm to 10pm the path between the east coast and Europe can resemble a freeway. Delta loads the sky daily with planes from Atlanta & New York to more than 20 destinations. Count the number of foreign airlines; United; American & US Air; traveling between Europe and the east coast. A US airline and its code share partners will typically run at least two daily flights each between their major hubs. Also consider the flights to non-hub destinations. Most of the planes are two engine craft that skirt the east coast of North America and the southern tip of Greenland in the event that an emergency landing is necessary.

    West coast flight paths to Asia from LAX, SFO, PDX and SEA follow a similar regimen along the west coast of North America and the Aleutian Islands off Alaska before diverging to their destinations.

    There are at least 15 daily flights between Australian & New Zealand cities to the west coast of the US. While not connecting the dots between South Pacific islands, the common flight path is close enough between that an emergency landing could be made on one of these islands.
  • groundcombat

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    Sep 14, 2012 4:18 AM GMT
    nabob7729 said
    riddler78 saidNah, I don't think so. There's not enough traffic to justify it.
    Consider that from 4pm to 10pm the path between the east coast and Europe can resemble a freeway. Delta loads the sky daily with planes from Atlanta & New York to more than 20 destinations. Count the number of foreign airlines; United; American & US Air; traveling between Europe and the east coast. A US airline and its code share partners will typically run at least two daily flights each between their major hubs. Also consider the flights to non-hub destinations. Most of the planes are two engine craft that skirt the east coast of North America and the southern tip of Greenland in the event that an emergency landing is necessary.

    West coast flight paths to Asia from LAX, SFO, PDX and SEA follow a similar regimen along the west coast of North America and the Aleutian Islands off Alaska before diverging to their destinations.

    There are at least 15 daily flights between Australian & New Zealand cities to the west coast of the US. While not connecting the dots between South Pacific islands, the common flight path is close enough between that an emergency landing could be made on one of these islands.


    Again, this still neglects altitude separation which the US recently went to 1,000 ft separation. So theoretically along any given corridor at any interval, at any time, there could be about 14 aircraft (between 18000 and 32000 ft) and still be okay.
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    Sep 14, 2012 4:20 AM GMT
    AirBus... isn't that like the GreyHound of airlines... no thank you. icon_confused.gif