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New Service Lets You Hitch a Ride With Private Planes For Cost of Tank of Gas

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  • Re:um... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Obfuscant (592200) on Monday April 07, 2014 @02:33PM (#46686303)

    And you personally know all of the pilots before you board any plane?

    On a commercial air carrier flight, I know that the pilot has been to recurrent training within the last six months (I think it is, maybe 12), has had a check pilot evaluate his performance within the same time frame, and has a second fully qualified pilot sitting in the other seat. He's had intensive simulator training to deal with a vast number of potential in-flight emergencies. I know both of them are fully IFR qualified in a fully IFR capable aircraft in case the weather deteriorates enroute. Both have 1st Class medical certificates which involve a lot more than "kicking the tires and peeing in a cup".

    On a private flight, I'm pretty sure the pilot has had an hour of flight sometime in the last two years (a biennial flight review) and has made three landings that he could walk away from in the last 90 days (or heals really quickly). The airplane has probably been inspected sometime within the last year for airworthiness. But there is little overview by the FAA for those requirements. If he owns his own plane nobody really checks until the NTSB does the investigation after the crash. If he's renting then the FBO will probably make sure he's met the legal minimums. There's no easy way to tell rental vs. owner. And the medical? The last time the pilot may have seen any doctor was a decade or more ago*.

    I fear this kind of ride-share is going to make the FAA look closer at the requirements for private pilots, not simplify them.

    * sport pilot rules. All a pilot needs for a "medical" is a driver's license as long as he's not had an application for a medical certificate denied, revoked, suspended or withdrawn.

  • by Immerman (2627577) on Monday April 07, 2014 @02:36PM (#46686357)

    I don't know, aside from a few mountains that mostly stay put there's nothing to hit in the air except other planes, and there's a LOT more room to maneuver than on the street. The riskiest part of a flight is typically the take-off and landing, other than that the only real risk is equipment (or pilot) failure, which shouldn't be dramatically affected by the number of other planes in the sky. Obviously if you had 1000x as many planes in the air you'd need to get a little more aggressive about adhering to flight lanes, but adding additional lanes is almost free. The only thing you'd really need to change is increasing the number of airports to avoid creating dangerously dense spots of air (and runway) traffic.

    It'd probably also help if we updated the antiquated and error-prone air-traffic control systems. I know there's several far more intuitive systems that have been designed, but I think they mostly haven't seen widespread deployment yet.

  • by Subgenius (95662) on Monday April 07, 2014 @02:41PM (#46686405) Homepage

    ROUGH numbers (and yes, I know GPH not MPG).

    Typical Cessna 172 flown by a decent pilot, not a speed-demon, will see a burn of about 10-12 gallons per hour in calm skies. 100LL (avgas) is running here at Montgomery Field in San Diego (Gibbs FBO) $6.19/gallon. Assume a full 56-gallon fill ($346), you are are looking at 5-hours runtime @ 105kts, or about 500 miles before refueling.

    Not the cheapest way to get there, your plane/burnrate/mileage WILL vary.

  • Re:um... (Score:4, Informative)

    by Entropius (188861) on Monday April 07, 2014 @02:54PM (#46686525)

    They probably let Dick Cheney drive, so you don't even need a heartbeat. (He's also prone to shoot people in the face, too.)

  • by mopower70 (250015) on Monday April 07, 2014 @03:08PM (#46686629) Homepage

    I don't know, aside from a few mountains that mostly stay put there's nothing to hit in the air except other planes, and there's a LOT more room to maneuver than on the street.

    You'd think that... but I imagine it's a lot like sailing. I sail on the ocean and even if there's only a handful of boats out there, there's a good chance you're going to come near one of them. Every airplane is dealing with the same flying conditions and a fairly limited number of destinations. You're generally going to want to take the shortest, most fuel-efficient path - along with every other craft up there. In theory there's lots of room to maneuver, but the odds of you occupying the same space as another craft going or coming the same direction are actually pretty good.

  • Re:um... (Score:4, Informative)

    by Valdrax (32670) on Monday April 07, 2014 @03:09PM (#46686649)

    What are the requirements for driving a 3 ton vehicle these days, heartbeat and visit to the local DL office?

    You forgot massive and unnecessarily burdensome documentation of your identity to help make sure college students, the elderly, and the working poor don't vote.

  • by RockyMountain (12635) on Monday April 07, 2014 @03:15PM (#46686723) Homepage

    I have lost four of my friends to airplane accidents. Two were pilots -- in one case the it clearly his own fault, and in the other it was extremely bad piece of luck. The other two deaths were the direct result of naively trusting the wrong pilot.

    I see two flavors of comment so far. Non-pilots saying they think the idea is scary, and pilots saying "aw, pshaw, I am well trained, what is the problem?". Well, I am a pilot myself (commercial pilot and certified flight instructor), yet I strongly agree with the "that's scary" crowd. I've flown many thousands of hours in all sorts of locales, weather, and equipment. I've handled numerous emergencies, with never a scratch. I've taught hundreds of other pilots to fly. But, in all that time, by far the scariest moments I have ever had in the air were occasions where I made the mistake of riding as a passenger with the wrong choice of pilot!

    Those who place their faith in the FAA's training standards, simply fail to understand that the ratings indicate compliance with the bare legal minima -- essentially they mean nearly nothing.

    Nor does safety correlate with pilot rating. I've met some mere student pilots that I'd sooner trust with my life than many commercial pilots. The variation from one individual pilot to the next, regardless of qualifications, by far exceeds the variations from one rating to another. That variation comes from preparedness, attitude experience and common sense. Bottom line, with the exception of airlines (where I have no choice!) I will NEVER ride with a pilot whose experience, skills, and attitude I do not personally know first hand. And, I'd never advise friends or loved ones to ride with "just any old pilot".

  • by EmagGeek (574360) <gterich@@@aol...com> on Monday April 07, 2014 @03:18PM (#46686745) Journal

    Found this online:

    http://www.faa.gov/about/offic... [faa.gov]

  • by Aeonym (1115135) on Monday April 07, 2014 @04:09PM (#46687227)

    Aircraft injuries/fatalities are only better than cars because the vast majority of traffic is on commercial airlines that are rigorously maintained, with pilots who must pass (relatively) stringent qualifications.

    Little private planes are much more dangerous, mile for mile, than cars [meretrix.com]

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