Over the last few years the aim for aviation has been larger and farther. With the release of larger wide body aircraft and stronger engines commercial airlines have been able to create routes that were once never possible.
The development of our new technology and hardware have allowed us to push the limits of what is possible. Aircraft such as the Boeing 777 have the capability of flying over 9000 miles without the need to stop and refuel.
Never before have we been able to travel halfway across the globe on a single trip. The goal for maximizing the capabilities of these aircraft were done in the perspective of reducing stops between major cities to allow for a smooth travelling experience for the passengers.
Qatar Airways Flight QR920 currently holds the record for the furthest distance between any two cities in a single direct flight. The route from Doha, Qatar to Auckland, New Zealand is a total of 9,032 miles (14,535 kilometers) and can take a total of 16 hours and 23 minutes to arrive. As the aircraft travelled over 10 times zones, four pilots took turns as the 15 crew members served over 1000 meals to the passengers over the total flight time.
Keep in mind that on the inbound flight into Auckland the winds were in the pilots favor cutting down some flight time. On the return flight with the current weather conditions at the time the return flight can be expected to be even longer with a total of 17 hours and 30 minutes in the sky. I couldn’t image going on a trip that long without the right headphones that for sure. Click Apple AirPods with Charging Case (Latest Model) for the best deal!
Now aside from those who are aviation enthusiast and purchased the flight ticket just to say they were on the longest flight in history how often does this route fly and what is the demand for this route. How often would one need to commute back and forth between the two locations? Who really would enjoy sitting in a plane for 16 hours or more?
Although the direct flight with Qatar is double the price of the connecting flight you are saving a total of 24 hours by choosing the direct over the connecting flight which can take a total of 38 hours with ground time. So it all comes down to what you are willing to pay and the time you are willing to spend.
What about everyone else in the world?
Although I am not denying the possibility that this flight may be incredible beneficial to some who make this commute, between you and I, this is not a route I would be personally making on a daily basis. In addition I can make the conclusion based on my own knowledge and experience that although this flight might appeal to a select few, the grand majority of individuals in the world do not care about this service being that they have no current business in either Doha or Auckland which would required them to use the services of Qatar Airways for the convenience which they offer.
I feel as if there is a transition undergoing in the aviation industry towards where the demand for longer flights is not growing as much as the demand for shorter distance travel. With the highways between cities and suburbs getting more crowded over the last decade many are being inconvenienced with spending more and more time sitting in traffic than they ever imagined.
America’s drivers wasted 6.9 billion hours stuck in traffic in 2014, according to a study released today by the Texas A&M Transportation Institute(TTI) and INRIX. That’s 42 hours a year per rush-hour commuter on average. Essentially an entire work week is wasted simply sitting in your car waiting to get from one location to the next.
The goal towards solving this issue is the next objective of the aviation industry and the development of Vertical Take off and Landing ( VTOL) aircraft which is aimed to resolve this global issue.
Imagine you are on the north side of Manhattan and need to make it all the way to the south side of the city during the peak rush hour traffic to make it for an important meeting. Most individuals in this situation would go ahead and cancel or reschedule the appointment knowing that they will never make it in time with the current conditions present. VTOL’s have the potential of solving this problem by creating the ability to travel via air over short distances at a manageable cost.
In a different scenario, lets take the example of a medical emergency requiring urgent attention. Ambulance vehicles need to assert their dominance on the road and be relentless when working through heavily dense areas to be able to transport those who require medical attention to the appropriate facilities. How do we create a system where one could bypass the congestion on the ground and arrive to their destination in a time efficient and safe manner.
The Lilium Jet is iconic and Modern
Lilium a company based out of Munich, Germany has launched their first fully functional prototype VTOL air taxi. With a range of 300km and a zero emission all-electric engine system the future of making these short hops across cities is projected to become reality by as soon as 2025.
The ability for vertical take-off and landing allows for minimal infrastructure to be created to be able to handle the aircraft as you no longer need long runways and bulky gate areas. One could land and take off using a small plot of land in a currently densely populated area without the need for a large piece of land. The possibilities can range from that of near a beach or a popular destination to even potentially on the roof of skyscrapers, or hospitals.
In terms of safety these aircraft will be piloted unlike many other concepts being designed by other companies which promote the use of VTOLs without pilots. Having an experienced professional in the cockpit provides for added safety and security preventing misuse of the aircraft.
Just how one would request a ride using various ride sharing platforms a similar app will be accessible to request flights from one part of town to the next. In rush hour traffic it may take for example someone to get from Downtown Miami to Ft Lauderdale anywhere between 1-2 hours depending on the situation one could be able to hop on a an aircraft specifically designed for these short distances and arrive in less than 20 min.
The image above from the lilium website shows the range and capabilities of the aircraft.
How VTOL Vehicles can be Environmentally Friendly
By having a completely electric engine system this helps bring down the cost of the flight as currently in aviation the largest expense is fuel. In addition one could argue that the development of electric VTOL aircraft can help reduce green house gas emissions by reducing the total amount of gas guzzling vehicles on the road. This means not only is this going to attract consumers to save money and time but they will also be happy to know that they are making the more environmentally wise choice in their choice of transportation.
Over the next decade as we see more companies design aircraft similar to how Lilium is revolutionizing the way we travel. With the modernized air taxi concepts we can also expect to see a growth In service companies rise and the demand for newly designed airports. You can expect to see a VTOL air service station near your own town or home in the next 10 years as the network of these aircraft grows.
Stations can be created all over town which allow for passengers to request a flight using an app. These stations can be built in various locations such as the concept we see below for New York.
We can see how the technology being implemented in these vehicles will be state of the art allowing for efficiency in noise pollution. The greatest concern individuals have with lower flying vehicles is the concern with the noise of the engines over their homes disturbing their peace of mind.
The solution to this problem lies in dispersing the thrust between a network of engines instead of having one incredibly strong engine producing all the lift. the Lilium uses a total of 36 engines arranged through out the wings which not only help keep noise pollution to a minimum but also work as a safety feature. In the event that one of the engines experience a failure there are still 35 other engines all independently working.
Adapting to the Future of Aviation
The best way to adapt to the market which the aviation industry is now entering is to think more on a daily basis instead of that once a year vacation. The demand for more affordable short distance travel is growing incredibly compared to the demand for long haul 16 hour flights. Stay on the look out as many companies are testing various ideas and concepts regarding shorter distance air travel.
Companies such as Emirates airlines, Airbus, Boeing, and even Uber are experimenting with various concepts and ideas. Uber just recently launched their IPO on the New York Stock Exchange and although they have had a rough start keep in mind that they are heavily investing in this technology which could dramatically alter the course of the company and the value of the stock. Although many investors are looking at Uber with a negative perspective in terms of fundamentals its important to understand where the possibility of the company lies.
Staying open to understanding that the world of aviation is going to dramatically change over the years to come will allow you to stay flexible in going where the market is heading. I personally am looking into seeing which companies provide the greatest safety standards and cost effectiveness when it comes to their aircraft.
What are you thoughts on short distance vertical take-off and landing vehicles?
How will organizations and manufactures meet the growing demand of the population as they demand for more reliable and efficient modes of transportation?
Is this just a new trend that will die off in a few years or can we continue to see more companies lean towards more short distance VTOLs?
Leave your comments and thoughts below!
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