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Transportation The Almighty Buck

New Service Lets You Hitch a Ride With Private Planes For Cost of Tank of Gas 269

v3rgEz (125380) writes "A new service, Airpooler, matches pilots with passengers looking to head the same way. Since it's not an officially licensed charter service, prices are limited to roughly the passengers' share of the gas, giving pilots a way to share the expense of enjoying the open blue and flyers a taste of their personal pilot."
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New Service Lets You Hitch a Ride With Private Planes For Cost of Tank of Gas

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  • Sounds scary (Score:5, Insightful)

    by JoeyRox ( 2711699 ) on Monday April 07, 2014 @01:55PM (#46685881)
    I live near a municipal airport and based on the landings I've seen I'm not sure I would entrust my life to a private pilot certified on only a puddle jumper.
  • Re:Sounds scary (Score:5, Insightful)

    by QuasiSteve ( 2042606 ) on Monday April 07, 2014 @02:00PM (#46685943)

    Out of curiosity... do you feel differently about cars? (e.g. through services such as Uber and Lyft)

  • Re:um... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Bobberly ( 1677220 ) on Monday April 07, 2014 @02:06PM (#46686017)
    As a pilot, I'm not sure how to take your remark. I'm pretty sure the rigorous training and medical certifications I've completed will have you in much safer hands than the trip you take to the grocery store from your house. What are the requirements for driving a 3 ton vehicle these days, heartbeat and visit to the local DL office?
  • by bussdriver ( 620565 ) on Monday April 07, 2014 @02:19PM (#46686129)

    Cars are forgiving, the sky is NOT. If as many people flew small planes as people drive it would not be as safe in terms of fatalities. It is true when you compare apples to oranges driving is more dangerous; but if you want to even get close to a fair comparison you would compare jets to buses and you'd compare fatalities and injuries separately... since car accidents are far less likely to result in fatalities.

    The FAA has strong rules about flying others around and the FAA never changes the regulations, they only add, never remove. The exchange of money at all for any connected reason is going to cause trouble.

    Besides, if you thought the taxi lobby was a problem for ride sharing; you'd never even dare to mess with the airline industrial complex (which is so heavily subsidized, it is more of a scam than a market.)

  • by joe_frisch ( 1366229 ) on Monday April 07, 2014 @02:34PM (#46686315)

    As a private pilot the legal issues worry me. The pilot training, aircraft maintenance, and operating requirements are very different for different types operations. The "sharing costs" is based on the concept that you can fly your friends to Las Vegas and split the costs. It is assumed that you have reasonable informed your friends of the risks. If you are taking other "passengers" for some form of compensation, have they *really* been informed of the risks - which are dramatically higher for private flights than for air carriers.

    If there is an aircraft malfunction and someone is injured, what are the insurance / lawsuit issues? what happens if a passenger damages your airplane - stepping in the wrong place, can do thousands of dollars of damage to some planes. What if you can't reach the intended destination due to weather - does the passenger get a refund? What if you are delayed? It is legal for private flights to operate under weather conditions that are not legal for commercial flights -what happens here? Fuel is less than 1/2 the total operating costs for my plane - do I get to split all costs, or just fuel?

    We are also talking a lot of money here. A Bonanza or Cirrus total operating cost is probably ~$200/hour, so a "quick flight" from San Francisco to Las Vegas is $1000 round trip, close to 2X that in my Baron. Non-pilot passengers may expect a level of service and performance that just isn't reasonable for small planes.

    Its a nice idea, and I'd love to participate, but there are too many possible problems.

  • by Overzeetop ( 214511 ) on Monday April 07, 2014 @02:57PM (#46686559) Journal

    TSA doesn't give a shit. Go charter a private jet and you can skip all that silliness and they won't care. They want us to feel safe, not be safe.

    FAA on the other hand will not be amused.

  • Re:um... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Hobadee ( 787558 ) on Monday April 07, 2014 @03:20PM (#46686765) Homepage Journal

    Mod parent up!

    As an armchair pilot, and aviation enthusiast, I've seen some "pilots" do some stupid stuff! Listening to ATC and hearing private pilots who barely know how to tune their radio is a little scary. While I'm sure GP is a great pilot, and lots of pilots are great pilots, the entry level for a private pilots license is fairly low. (If it weren't so expensive, I would have my license already - that's a *really* scary thought that someone would trust me with an airplane!)

  • by jeffmeden ( 135043 ) on Monday April 07, 2014 @03:23PM (#46686797) Homepage Journal

    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.

    Run out of gas in a car? Put put put putttt.... walk. Run out of gas in a plane? AerrrrrrrrrrrRRRRRRRRRR... CRASH! And that's the consequence of a benign failure mode. Imagine the swift and merciless outcome of a more dramatic failure like a spun bearing or broken crankshaft. Powered planes and gliders have basically nothing in common, even though the public likes to imagine that running out of gas in a plane means soaring gently until you land on a convenient 4-lane road or meticulously preened grass field.

  • by RavenLrD20k ( 311488 ) on Monday April 07, 2014 @03:46PM (#46687021) Journal

    even though the public likes to imagine that running out of gas in a plane means soaring gently until you land on a convenient 4-lane road or meticulously preened grass field

    Ok, I get that a plane isn't going to glide as well as a glider that's designed for, well, gliding; but it's not going to drop like a stone either, unless you suck at buying planes and vetting designs. You control your airspeed with your pitch, and so long as you don't let it drop below the minimum airspeed to generate lift, you can keep a dead plane in the air for a while. Long enough that you can find someplace to put down where you'll get minimal damage for the area. Keep your head about you and keep from stalling the lift, always have an emergency landing target in mind, and so long as you haven't been hit by a missile you should be ok. Granted, it's probably not going to be the most gentile landing, and the likelihood that the plane will be able to fly again isn't too good unless you really get lucky on finding the perfect field/road/clearing to put down on, but that's why you keep emergency supplies on board for first aid, flares and rations... right?

  • Re:Sounds scary (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Bill, Shooter of Bul ( 629286 ) on Monday April 07, 2014 @03:53PM (#46687087) Journal

    I'm not sure I would trust the opinion of someone that thinks the TSA is the main regulatory body of civilian aviation.

Never buy what you do not want because it is cheap; it will be dear to you. -- Thomas Jefferson