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Comment Re:Only viable if all planes land themselves (Score 1) 340

...and add in a stiff wind, that's constantly shifting from headwind, to crosswind, to tailwind.

  Then lets add in an engine failure on takeoff.

You go from (in my airplane) 2 engines producing 20,000lbs of thrust split evenly, to 14,000lbs thrust on the uphill side. It's going to make it nearly impossible to maintain control of the plane and safely get it off the ground.

Comment Re:Simulator...interface is garbage (Score 5, Informative) 340

I have a feeling you aren't either...

While sims are mostly faithful to their airplane type in the air, on the ground and landing, it isn't the same. That is the one thing I tell my trainees: "I don't care about the landings in the sim beyond you not crashing." There are small differences between the sim and the real thing that throw off landings. Coupled with the lack of visual cues and environmental (seat of the pants) cues, it makes sim flying not quite the same.

All of us airline pilots have our normal landing technique in the plane, and our "sim landing" technique. At least, that's my experience among three types of airliners, 7000+ hours logged, and another 400 hours just in simulators.

Comment Re:Last time I looked (Score 1) 103

as Nidi says, it can get really hot on the ramp. i know when its hot out and we've shut down the APU, the empty airplane goes from a comfortable 75 to almost 90 in about 15 minutes. that's with the doors open. if they load the cargo early & close the door, there is no airflow whatsoever in there until we turn on the packs.

here's what i fly: http://www.airliners.net/photo/Delta-Connection-(Shuttle/Embraer-ERJ-170-200LR-175LR/1783452/M/

i would guess that its possible to get a thermal runaway in a defective battery started when its hot on the ground and buried in the middle of the pile of luggage, then have it continue after takeoff once the plane has cooled down.

Comment Re:Last time I looked (Score 4, Informative) 103

it depends on which cargo hold your stuff is put in on an airplane. On my aircraft, the forward hold is heated & pressurized, and the aft hold is not.

here's how the bins (as we call them) are pressurized/heated. the air that comes out of the packs is routed through the cabin, then flows through the cargo bin before being dumped overboard through the pressurization valve. so while the bin is heated, there is no direct control of the heat like the cabin. we have charts in our manuals that will tell us the temp of the bins based on the outside air temp, so we can tell whether or not its safe to put Fido in the cargo, but otherwise we have no direct way of monitoring the cargo compartment temp.


Zombie Pigs First, Hibernating Soldiers Next 193

ColdWetDog writes "Wired is running a story on DARPA's effort to stave off battlefield casualties by turning injured soldiers into zombies by injecting them with a cocktail of one chemical or another (details to be announced). From the article, 'Dr. Fossum predicts that each soldier will carry a syringe into combat zones or remote areas, and medic teams will be equipped with several. A single injection will minimize metabolic needs, de-animating injured troops by shutting down brain and heart function. Once treatment can be carried out, they'll be "re-animated" and — hopefully — as good as new.' If it doesn't pan out we can at least get zombie bacon and spam."

Comment Re:Radio Reception? (Score 4, Informative) 518

on most airliners, there is no beeping when you cross a waypoint in the FMS. that would get real annoying when the waypoints are under a minute apart (departures and approaches) and i'm trying to concentrate on hand-flying the plane.

almost all airliners designed in the last 30 years are centered on the "Dark & Quiet" flight deck concept. if everything is normal, and all systems are as they should be, then there will be no lights on over/inside switches & buttons, and there will be no noises. this way, when something does go wrong, we know about it immediately. if we get a caution message, there's a "ding" and the master caution light that's right in front of my face blinks amber at me till i cancel it. then i look to see what the message was, and run the appropriate checklist.

in my airplane, if we pass the last waypoint in the FMS, we will get the "ding" and caution light, as the computer has no where else to go, so drops out of LNAV mode into ROLL mode. all roll mode does is, ironically, keep the wings level and on the selected altitude.

its really easy to see why they went 100 miles past the airport, as they were made away about 5 minutes before passing the field. it'll take about 15 minutes to figure out what the proper frequency is for the altitude and location you're at, then establish communications with the controller, and get re-sequenced back into the arrival streams. and at the standard cruise speed of ~500kts, you cover a mile every 8 seconds or so.

Comment Re:Do airlines really need pilots? (Score 1) 518

until something goes wrong, like an engine failure, swallowing a flock of geese, or the one in a billion chance of an engine failure taking out all flight controls, etc. then you're paying for those "lazy bastards that just push buttons" to get your screaming butt on the ground in one piece. computers do not now, and i doubt in the next decade or more, have the decision making ability and adaptability to handle most emergency situations.

and do you really want someone on the ground to be able to control the airplane. 9/11 would have been much worse had the hijackers only needed to hack the system to fly you into a building instead of actually expend their own lives. lot more guys willing to kill others if they don't get into harms way as opposed to those willing to kill themselves in the process

Comment Re:This is a non-event. (Score 1) 518

pilots ignoring the TCAS commands over what ATC tells them goes against all our training and knowledge.

TCAS works by communicating between the two planes. they decide that one should go up, the other down. the results are then displayed on my PFD (primary flight display, the one with the attitude indicator, airspeed, etc.) i just put the plane's flight path indicator inside the green box (and away from the red boxes) and all i end up with is a story for happy hour.

i ignore the TCAS and go with what some guy sitting safely in a dark room tells me, i die.

Comment Re:It's a tough job (Score 1) 518

yes, but while your work day might be tiring after being there 10 or 14hrs, your office isn't being bounced up and down, you aren't literally strapped to your desk, and it doesn't take the coordination of your entire team for you to get up to pee. oh, lets not forget that if you screw up and your code is wrong, you get an error message and try again. i screw up, 80 people die and i turn a $40 million airliner into a smoking hole in the ground.

and think about the last time you traveled all day to get somewhere. remember how tired you were? that's every day for me.

Comment Re:It's a tough job (Score 2, Informative) 518

man, it'd be nice if i ever saw that as my job as an airline pilot. i have been with my airline for 3 years now, and i'll be lucky to clear $40k gross. that includes all my per diem, reimbursements for uniform, medical certificate, and other job-related expenses. in my first year, my gross income was almost exactly $20,000.

the senior captains everyone mentions that makes $250k a year are the guys that have been there since their early 20s and are in the top 1% of the seniority list. they will make that pay for a few years, then they retire. the vast majority of us are lucky to get close to $100k

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