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Old 30th Dec 2018, 21:15
  #27 (permalink)  
27/09
 
Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: Enzed
Posts: 2,208
Originally Posted by Andy_RR View Post
I think it's instructional to compare the popularity of conventional model helicopters - available but experience to operate, difficult to maintain and requiring lots of skill and practice to pilot - with the current quadcopter craze to illustrate why conventional helicopters as air taxis are not a great business analog. That is leaving aside the required 100kg meat-based flight controller that diminishes payload capacity.
How will these fancy new quadcopters that will be capable of lifting human beings plus their luggage and meet the relevant design rules and still be any cheaper than a helicopter? Radio control helicopters are pretty cheap too, comparable to the current crop of quadcopter drones.

Yep, they will do away with the on board pilot which will help with payload. There still needs to be some control system which in the short to medium term will be more expensive than an on board pilot.

No doubt someone will stump up the tremendous amounts of moolah to design and build such a system. For it to be successful it needs to be able to attract enough custom at a price that pays back the costs of development and operation. Let's assume someone does develop a usable system, it's my guess they will lose their shirts on it. Someone will pick up the left overs at a bargain basement price and not be saddled with recovering the development costs. They will still need to make enough money to pay the ongoing costs.

The disrupter models like Uber have been aimed at the masses and have challenged current pricing models, i.e. under cut the incumbents. How much do they need to undercut the incumbents in point to point air travel to make their offering affordable to the masses? In other words how much would you be prepared or be able to afford to pay for point to point air travel to get to work etc?

The other issue I see is this type of service is seen as a way to bypass gridlock on the ground. If such a service attracted enough custom to make it pay I think we would see the gridlock on the ground replaced by gridlock in the air.

I don't see the general operating noise and the downwash from the take off and landing being acceptable to allow real point to point travel for the masses. They will still need to operate from designated take off and landing areas which will cause aerial congestion at these points and the need to use these designated areas will significantly reduce the benefits of such a system. Imagine the rigmarole in getting consents for these landing/take off areas

Such a service is technologically possible but it my contention is it is logistically impractical and therefore unlikely to succeed no matter how user friendly the local aviation authorities are.
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