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(The Verge)   Very soon airline pilots will be able to back that big ass thing up   (theverge.com) divider line 49
    More: Cool, electric aircraft, original, Paris Air Show, landing gear, Airbus A320, Honeywell, electric motors  
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4664 clicks; posted to Geek » on 23 Jun 2013 at 11:15 AM (1 year ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2013-06-23 10:21:58 AM  
I find it somewhat mind-boggling that we have planes that can literally take off, navigate, and land by themselves, but they still need tugs on the ground to help them back up and clear terminals.

How did we not have something like this in place 40 years ago?
 
2013-06-23 10:47:00 AM  
Don't you still need a crew of spotters on the ground?
 
2013-06-23 11:18:51 AM  

whistleridge: I find it somewhat mind-boggling that we have planes that can literally take off, navigate, and land by themselves, but they still need tugs on the ground to help them back up and clear terminals.

How did we not have something like this in place 40 years ago?


Because the technology for small lightweight wheel driving devices didn't exist 40 years ago.
 
2013-06-23 11:34:24 AM  

whistleridge: I find it somewhat mind-boggling that we have planes that can literally take off, navigate, and land by themselves, but they still need tugs on the ground to help them back up and clear terminals.

How did we not have something like this in place 40 years ago?


Its kind of hard to turn the power down on an engine that can propel a plane through the air to the point where it is useful on the ground. Plus jet engines only provide thrust to the rear of the airplane. Makes it hard to back up.
 
2013-06-23 11:35:27 AM  

Tom_Slick: whistleridge: I find it somewhat mind-boggling that we have planes that can literally take off, navigate, and land by themselves, but they still need tugs on the ground to help them back up and clear terminals.

How did we not have something like this in place 40 years ago?

Because the technology for small lightweight wheel driving devices didn't exist 40 years ago.


They claim it will save 150 gallons of fuel per day.  How much extra will they burn each day carting around this set of heavy axle-mounted motors?
 
2013-06-23 11:46:52 AM  

whistleridge: I find it somewhat mind-boggling that we have planes that can literally take off, navigate, and land by themselves, but they still need tugs on the ground to help them back up and clear terminals.

How did we not have something like this in place 40 years ago?


We did, it was called a powerback...start the engines, open the thrust reverser and back up. Not advisable with wing mounted engines though, you still needed those guys on the ground to spot and it wastes gas. As cool as the electric motors sound, you'll still need spotters, and the extra weight of the motors will probably negate any fuel savings.
 
2013-06-23 11:56:11 AM  
Some planes  are capable of powerback, as seen with this MD 80. You can see the same number of marshallers is still required. Thrust reversers can do the job, but this is horribly dangerous because of the potential for throwing debris at the terminal, ground crewman, and into the engines themselves.
 
2013-06-23 11:56:35 AM  

buzzcut73: whistleridge: I find it somewhat mind-boggling that we have planes that can literally take off, navigate, and land by themselves, but they still need tugs on the ground to help them back up and clear terminals.

How did we not have something like this in place 40 years ago?

We did, it was called a powerback...start the engines, open the thrust reverser and back up. Not advisable with wing mounted engines though, you still needed those guys on the ground to spot and it wastes gas. As cool as the electric motors sound, you'll still need spotters, and the extra weight of the motors will probably negate any fuel savings.


I should rephrase: I know WHY we didn't and don't have it. But considering all the larger and seemingly more complex problems that we have found solutions to, it just seems counterintuitive that we've not yet found a better way of doing something as simple as rolling backwards on the ground. Life is funny that way, sometimes.
 
2013-06-23 12:01:18 PM  

whistleridge: buzzcut73: whistleridge: I find it somewhat mind-boggling that we have planes that can literally take off, navigate, and land by themselves, but they still need tugs on the ground to help them back up and clear terminals.

How did we not have something like this in place 40 years ago?

We did, it was called a powerback...start the engines, open the thrust reverser and back up. Not advisable with wing mounted engines though, you still needed those guys on the ground to spot and it wastes gas. As cool as the electric motors sound, you'll still need spotters, and the extra weight of the motors will probably negate any fuel savings.

I should rephrase: I know WHY we didn't and don't have it. But considering all the larger and seemingly more complex problems that we have found solutions to, it just seems counterintuitive that we've not yet found a better way of doing something as simple as rolling backwards on the ground. Life is funny that way, sometimes.


It does seem like a simple solution but my guess is that power consumption/weight were the biggest issue before now. IE: It just wasn't feasible before now.
 
2013-06-23 12:01:23 PM  

Kyosuke: Don't you still need a crew of spotters on the ground?


Probably for right now, but it's not hard to imagine a system of cameras and proximity detectors that could be used to make it possible for a pilot to park a plane on his or her own.  Think of the little backup cameras and blind-spot-warning radars that a lot of cars have nowadays.  Doing the same thing for aircraft would really only be a matter of increasing the scale.
 
2013-06-23 12:04:47 PM  
FTFA:
"Honeywell and Safran believe this could amount to a four-percent fuel saving over the course of a year, also factoring in the effect the additional weight of the system has on planes' efficiency. "

Also, you'll always have ground spotters, there's just too much stuff moving around on an airport Tarmac to trust it to only the guys in the cockpit.
 
2013-06-23 12:07:32 PM  

HMS_Blinkin: Kyosuke: Don't you still need a crew of spotters on the ground?

Probably for right now, but it's not hard to imagine a system of cameras and proximity detectors that could be used to make it possible for a pilot to park a plane on his or her own.  Think of the little backup cameras and blind-spot-warning radars that a lot of cars have nowadays.  Doing the same thing for aircraft would really only be a matter of increasing the scale.


...and the number of cameras.

I can imagine something the size of a 787 needing dozens of cameras to check for obstacles at both ground level and at wing level all around the plane with a cockpit display that would look like a TV show's directors station.
Yeah, it could be done, but I'd rather rely on the small army of people doing the looking.
 
2013-06-23 12:08:13 PM  

whistleridge: I should rephrase: I know WHY we didn't and don't have it. But considering all the larger and seemingly more complex problems that we have found solutions to, it just seems counterintuitive that we've not yet found a better way of doing something as simple as rolling backwards on the ground. Life is funny that way, sometimes.


I think it's somewhat a part of human nature to try to solve the big complex problems rather than the little easy ones.  Sure, fitting electric motors in airplane wheels seems really obvious and easy to do.  And maybe there were some technical considerations that had to be overcome, but I would guess that this mostly hasn't come about because there were bigger problems to solve.  The cost and complexity of continuing to use tractors and jet thrust to move planes around wasn't seen as being worse than the cost and complexity of developing this new technology.
 
2013-06-23 12:09:23 PM  

whistleridge: buzzcut73: whistleridge: I find it somewhat mind-boggling that we have planes that can literally take off, navigate, and land by themselves, but they still need tugs on the ground to help them back up and clear terminals.

How did we not have something like this in place 40 years ago?

We did, it was called a powerback...start the engines, open the thrust reverser and back up. Not advisable with wing mounted engines though, you still needed those guys on the ground to spot and it wastes gas. As cool as the electric motors sound, you'll still need spotters, and the extra weight of the motors will probably negate any fuel savings.

I should rephrase: I know WHY we didn't and don't have it. But considering all the larger and seemingly more complex problems that we have found solutions to, it just seems counterintuitive that we've not yet found a better way of doing something as simple as rolling backwards on the ground. Life is funny that way, sometimes.


Another limiting factor is visibility, paint over all the windows of your car except the windshield, and a 6 inch vertical strip of the drivers window, takeoff all the mirrors, then bolt a 2X12 to each door. Now back out of your driveway without hitting something.
 
2013-06-23 12:09:33 PM  

whistleridge: I find it somewhat mind-boggling that we have planes that can literally take off, navigate, and land by themselves, but they still need tugs on the ground to help them back up and clear terminals.

How did we not have something like this in place 40 years ago?


Large boats tend to also have smaller boats the pull them into dock. Its simply not efficient for large craft to have extra sets of motors just for occasional tight docking maneuvers. These do make sense on smaller craft though, especially something like a 10 seater, wasting the time of the ground crew to pull a small plane into dock doesn't make sense.
 
2013-06-23 12:10:27 PM  
img.fark.net
 
2013-06-23 12:13:20 PM  

SomeoneDumb: ...and the number of cameras.

I can imagine something the size of a 787 needing dozens of cameras to check for obstacles at both ground level and at wing level all around the plane with a cockpit display that would look like a TV show's directors station.
Yeah, it could be done, but I'd rather rely on the small army of people doing the looking.


That's kind of what I meant by scale.  Yeah, I'd imagine it would take a minimum of probably 12-ish cameras (this is mostly an rectally-extracted number) for a larger passenger jet to cover all the blind spots.  And yeah, that's a lot of information overload for a pilot.  But, remember that there are multiple crew members on board.  You could even assign a couple of flight attendants the role of watching a couple screens apiece, while the pilot and co-pilot monitored whichever screens were most "relevant" for their situation (i.e. the rear cameras if the plane is backing up).

I agree it's still probably better and safer to have a lot of external eyes.  But, it's an interesting possibility to consider.
 
2013-06-23 12:20:21 PM  
Err, how about no. We used to have these debates early on in the design studies for the Stealth Destroyer (now DDG-1000) , as in, don't take to sea stuff that you only use in port. Same applies here. Don't take into the air stuff you only use at the airport. You want savings? Build remote controlled unmanned tractors the pilots can control from the cockpits, put as many cameras as you want on it, drive them out to the runway and then leave them behind. You can then have it all. Pilots driving their planes around on the ground, without the weight penalty of carrying drive motors on the plane.
 
2013-06-23 12:23:46 PM  

Tom_Slick: Because the technology for small lightweight wheel driving devices didn't exist 40 years ago.


img.fark.net

The real answer is: kerosene was so damn cheap no one cared.
 
2013-06-23 12:23:49 PM  
Huzzah! Something else on a plane that can break.
 
2013-06-23 12:25:17 PM  

mark12A: Err, how about no. We used to have these debates early on in the design studies for the Stealth Destroyer (now DDG-1000) , as in, don't take to sea stuff that you only use in port. Same applies here. Don't take into the air stuff you only use at the airport. You want savings? Build remote controlled unmanned tractors the pilots can control from the cockpits, put as many cameras as you want on it, drive them out to the runway and then leave them behind. You can then have it all. Pilots driving their planes around on the ground, without the weight penalty of carrying drive motors on the plane.


Now THAT is a sensible response to my original question. Not that it wasn't possible, but that it was the result of a conscious decision, for rational reasons. Thank you.
 
2013-06-23 12:26:15 PM  

Quantum Apostrophe: Tom_Slick: Because the technology for small lightweight wheel driving devices didn't exist 40 years ago.

[img.fark.net image 250x169]

The real answer is: kerosene was so damn cheap no one cared.


As cool as the lunar rovers are, those motors aren't powerful enough to move a damn plane.
 
2013-06-23 12:37:41 PM  

FrancoFile: Tom_Slick: whistleridge: I find it somewhat mind-boggling that we have planes that can literally take off, navigate, and land by themselves, but they still need tugs on the ground to help them back up and clear terminals.

How did we not have something like this in place 40 years ago?

Because the technology for small lightweight wheel driving devices didn't exist 40 years ago.

They claim it will save 150 gallons of fuel per day.  How much extra will they burn each day carting around this set of heavy axle-mounted motors?


That's why it's for short hoppers. Hub motors have gotten much better over the years, but it's still a niche application. There's a break even point for airplanes that taxi more than a few miles a day, and a sort of max airplane weight for the motor. This might also be popular with private jets since it's a point of independence.
 
2013-06-23 12:39:50 PM  
Still not exactly a bag of peanuts.
 
2013-06-23 12:39:52 PM  

whistleridge: How did we not have something like this in place 40 years ago?


In the days before the advent of Americanus Hippoglottamus, jets pulled up parallel to terminals and passengers walked *gasp* across the pavement and boarded the aircraft via stairs *double gasp*
 
2013-06-23 12:46:38 PM  

HMS_Blinkin: SomeoneDumb: ...and the number of cameras.

That's kind of what I meant by scale.  Yeah, I'd imagine it would take a minimum of probably 12-ish cameras (this is mostly an rectally-extracted number) for a larger passenger jet to cover all the blind spots.  And yeah, that's a lot of information overload for a pilot.  But, remember that there are multiple crew members on board.  You could even assign a couple of flight attendants the role of watching a couple screens apiece, while the pilot and co-pilot monitored whichever screens were most "relevant" for their situation (i.e. the rear cameras if the plane is backing up).

I agree it's still probably better and safer to have a lot of external eyes.  But, it's an interesting possibility to consider.


And all those people in the cockpit could lead to some wild parties! Unless, of course, the displays were all over the plane in which case you might need internal cameras to make sure all the crew members are at their stations and monitoring their assigned display.

It is an interesting idea, but at least in a car you can turn around and sorta see. Pilots have no such luck.
 
2013-06-23 12:49:22 PM  

HMS_Blinkin: Kyosuke: Don't you still need a crew of spotters on the ground?

Probably for right now, but it's not hard to imagine a system of cameras and proximity detectors that could be used to make it possible for a pilot to park a plane on his or her own.  Think of the little backup cameras and blind-spot-warning radars that a lot of cars have nowadays.  Doing the same thing for aircraft would really only be a matter of increasing the scale.


Given the cost of a plane, the close proximity of objects and the cost of any contact it's not cost effective. Also in many cases the spotters also do other tasks on the plane once it's parked so they are already in place, if the weren't spotting they'd still be standing around.

FrancoFile: They claim it will save 150 gallons of fuel per day.  How much extra will they burn each day carting around this set of heavy axle-mounted motors?


More than likely the 150 is a net savings, for example it may save 300 on the ground but burn another 150 in the air.  Companies would go through an extensive cost analysis and have multiple people spend months going through the various cost impacts including extra weight, maintenance costs, training, ect. The technology has probably progressed to the point that the motor is small enough to fit within the landing gear mechanism, efficient enough to have a low power need (smaller and lighter wiring to the electrical system), and light enough.
 
2013-06-23 01:11:05 PM  

whistleridge: I find it somewhat mind-boggling that we have planes that can literally take off, navigate, and land by themselves, but they still need tugs on the ground to help them back up and clear terminals.

How did we not have something like this in place 40 years ago?


Its not so much a limit on technology as it is on procedure. Engine start-up cant happen at most gates, because the jet-blast would be dangerous to other apron equipment and other aircraft at the other gates. The tug takes them to a pre determined location on the alley that has enough clear space behind to run the engines
 
2013-06-23 01:13:29 PM  
Most larger airports won't allow for self propelled backing from the terminal anyway. Too much going on, too little visibility. Good idea in theory, but the potential application is limited.
 
2013-06-23 01:29:04 PM  
I was reading about the requirements of landing gear, specifically the problem of the wheels going from 0-full speed of a plane on approach instantly.  Anyone here have information on how much stress that actually adds to the system, and if something like this could be used to get the gear in motion before the aircraft were to actually touch down?  Would that reduce the stress on the system or provide for a smother transition?
 
2013-06-23 01:52:16 PM  

Name_Omitted: I was reading about the requirements of landing gear, specifically the problem of the wheels going from 0-full speed of a plane on approach instantly.  Anyone here have information on how much stress that actually adds to the system, and if something like this could be used to get the gear in motion before the aircraft were to actually touch down?  Would that reduce the stress on the system or provide for a smother transition?


If there is a motor in there, you could spin up the wheels before they hit the runway. Might save wear and tear on the wheels.
 
2013-06-23 01:59:14 PM  

whistleridge: I find it somewhat mind-boggling that we have planes that can literally take off, navigate, and land by themselves, but they still need tugs on the ground to help them back up and clear terminals.

How did we not have something like this in place 40 years ago?


DC motors have made massive improvements recently we the advent of newer, lighter and less expensive magnets.
Efficiency - unless it saves you fuel and money, there is no point. Worse, if it reduces range, it is terrible idea for long haul routes.

plus, jet fuel has only become expensive "recently"

my guess is that that 4% savings per year on short routes, probably translates into the system paying for itself in 1-3 years.
 
2013-06-23 02:06:22 PM  
Wake me up when the engine mounts can rotate for vertical liftoff.

/no, I am not serious in the least
//they would need to develop some sort of magnetic anti-gravity drive first
 
2013-06-23 04:09:55 PM  
Even if they do work out how to do this, it's not as if big airlines like United (average fleet age of 13.6) are just going to swap out their fleets. And even if they did, just imagine a bunch of pilots backing up their freakin' jets on a busy ramp. How is that going to save time?

/better to leave it to the tugs
 
2013-06-23 04:18:09 PM  
Considering the 45 minute wait I had in Denver one fine winter day, because they had snapped three towbars that morning, I would applaud this.

/yes, I know it would be unlikely on the RJ I was on
//It's a matter of weight ratios
///Grip it by the husk
 
2013-06-23 04:21:07 PM  

mehtoole: Even if they do work out how to do this, it's not as if big airlines like United (average fleet age of 13.6) are just going to swap out their fleets. And even if they did, just imagine a bunch of pilots backing up their freakin' jets on a busy ramp. How is that going to save time?

/better to leave it to the tugs


With modern fuel costs, there is a massive effort to get new planes to take advantage of fuel efficiency. Delta has 100 Boeing 737-900s on order and taking over Airtran's 88 Boeing 717's to ditch old aircraft.  United Airlines has 35 Airbus A350s ordered with 40 options 100 Boeing 737 MAX 9's on order.  American has over 400 (yes that's FOUR HUNDRED) various Boeing 737s and Airbus 319-321s on order.  All three have several Dreamliners on order. Southwest has over 300 orders with 200 options on various 737s including the new MAX varieties.  Frontier has 80 A319&20 neos on order.  I'll stop there.  I think that's enough to get the point across.  New planes are worth it for the fuel efficiency, especially considering some of the dinosarus that are out there.  Delta still has a few DC-9's operating that are supposed to be ditched this year.
 
2013-06-23 05:16:53 PM  

whistleridge: I find it somewhat mind-boggling that we have planes that can literally take off, navigate, and land by themselves, but they still need tugs on the ground to help them back up and clear terminals.

How did we not have something like this in place 40 years ago?


Not all planes do:
img.fark.net

img.fark.net
 
2013-06-23 05:31:06 PM  

Kyosuke: spotters


Nah. Those little backup cameras will be mandatory by 2015.
 
2013-06-23 06:06:46 PM  
So these little electric jobbies, presumably powered by relatively heavy batteries, have to be lugged about during normal flight.
Well, it might make sense, if they provide adequate performance on the ground. Let's see how they work.
Ah. This film was produced by one of the 'arbitrary bursts of speed' directors. Thanks a farking bunch, cretin!.
 
2013-06-23 07:21:09 PM  
I'd worry a little more about the 50,000 volts the motors run on. A little problem could turn deadly very quickly. I'd imagine the passengers are separated enough they aren't really at risk, but the ground crew might be in trouble. The mechanics would really be in the danger zone. Better how they've been trained and have the proper equipment.
 
2013-06-23 08:34:41 PM  

NBSV: I'd worry a little more about the 50,000 volts the motors run on. A little problem could turn deadly very quickly. I'd imagine the passengers are separated enough they aren't really at risk, but the ground crew might be in trouble. The mechanics would really be in the danger zone. Better how they've been trained and have the proper equipment.


Huh?
 
2013-06-23 08:56:34 PM  
They still have to run the APU to provide power to the aircraft.  That burns jet fuel.  They still have to run the engines up to operating temperature before takeoff.  Since they aren't coming up to temp on the taxi out, that just means more planes sitting at the hammerhead waiting.  Same fuel getting burned.  Jet engines really do not like going to takeoff power with low oil temperatures.
 
2013-06-23 09:24:48 PM  

Quantum Apostrophe: NBSV: I'd worry a little more about the 50,000 volts the motors run on. A little problem could turn deadly very quickly. I'd imagine the passengers are separated enough they aren't really at risk, but the ground crew might be in trouble. The mechanics would really be in the danger zone. Better how they've been trained and have the proper equipment.

Huh?


Unless its a typo or I misread the article said they're using a pair of 50 kv motors. As in 50,000 volt motors. There's two ways to get more electrical power. Increase amperage or increase voltage. High amperage requires larger wires, larger controlling gear, and tends to generate a lot of heat. Raising the voltage allows you to get the same power with less amperage.

Almost all hybrid cars run the electric motors off more than 300 volts. I think F1 was running over 1 kv for their electric assist systems. At least one car burned to the ground and a crew member was stunned when he touched the car. Carbon fiber is a good electrical conductor. So is all the aluminum in the plane.
 
2013-06-23 09:37:48 PM  

NBSV: Unless its a typo or I misread the article said they're using a pair of 50 kv motors


You misread, They're 50 kVA motors.
 
2013-06-23 10:31:34 PM  

Quantum Apostrophe: Name_Omitted: I was reading about the requirements of landing gear, specifically the problem of the wheels going from 0-full speed of a plane on approach instantly.  Anyone here have information on how much stress that actually adds to the system, and if something like this could be used to get the gear in motion before the aircraft were to actually touch down?  Would that reduce the stress on the system or provide for a smother transition?

If there is a motor in there, you could spin up the wheels before they hit the runway. Might save wear and tear on the wheels.


Assuming these things are geared in some way, that would be a HUGE no-no. Ever thrown your car into first on accident? Imaging if that wheel isn't running at the same ground speed the plane is at when it touches cement.

//The whiplash, i has it.
 
2013-06-24 12:23:02 AM  

italie: Quantum Apostrophe: Name_Omitted: I was reading about the requirements of landing gear, specifically the problem of the wheels going from 0-full speed of a plane on approach instantly.  Anyone here have information on how much stress that actually adds to the system, and if something like this could be used to get the gear in motion before the aircraft were to actually touch down?  Would that reduce the stress on the system or provide for a smother transition?

If there is a motor in there, you could spin up the wheels before they hit the runway. Might save wear and tear on the wheels.

Assuming these things are geared in some way, that would be a HUGE no-no. Ever thrown your car into first on accident? Imaging if that wheel isn't running at the same ground speed the plane is at when it touches cement.

//The whiplash, i has it.


Aside from this very valid point, the extra wear on the tires going from 0-140 on landing is nowhere near the energy, weight and maintenance cost of a system that would spin a tire up from 0-140 before the plane touched down. Bearings and rubber are relatively cheap, electric motors and people to maintain them...not so much.
 
2013-06-24 08:52:28 AM  
3 greens in a row. I'm on fire biatches.
 
2013-06-24 02:37:52 PM  

drjekel_mrhyde: 3 greens in a row. I'm on fire biatches.


Congrats
 
2013-06-24 07:19:18 PM  
How has this NOT turned into a big, thick, curvy ass thread? Won't someone do the work I'm far too lazy to do?
 
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