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Engineers Design Tornado Proof Home 189

Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Emily Badger writes at the Atlantic that it's not too hard to build a tornado proof home but it's pretty difficult to design one that's liveable. "If you made a perfect earthquake structure, it would be a bunker with 24-inch walls and one small steel door for you to get in," says architect Michael Willis. That structure would be based on the empirical measurements of structural engineers. "You could design it to be perfectly resistant. But it would not be a place you'd want to live." The task behind the "Designing Recovery" competition (PDF): was to design a liveable tornado proof home in a part of the country where the geology makes it impossible to build tornado cellars or basements. Q4 Architects designed a safe space within a home instead of a shelter underneath it, a kind of house inside of a house. The result is an idea that could be replicated anywhere in tornado alley: a highly indestructible 600 square-foot core of concrete masonry, hurricane shutters and tornado doors where a family could survive a tornado and live beyond it, with several more flexible (and affordable) rooms wrapped around it. "It's going to do it's best to fight the tornado," says Elizabeth George." "Part of your house might get torn away, but the most important parts of the house are safe. After the disaster, everything is not lost. You're able to keep the most valuable things, which are the people, the functions of the house, and maybe your valuables." The genius of this idea is that while it would be significantly more expensive to build out the same tornado precautions for the entire home, the CORE house is meant to be constructed for under $50,000."

Airlines Face Acute Pilot Shortage 421

Hugh Pickens writes "The WSJ reports that U.S. airlines are facing their most serious pilot shortage since the 1960s. Federal mandates are taking effect that will require all newly hired pilots to have at least 1,500 hours of prior flight experience — six times the current minimum. This raises the cost and time to train new fliers in an era when pay cuts and more-demanding schedules already have made the profession less attractive. Meanwhile, thousands of senior pilots at major airlines soon will start hitting the mandatory retirement age of 65. 'We are about four years from a solution, but we are only about six months away from a problem,' says Bob Reding, recently retired executive vice president of operations at AMR Corp. A study by the University of North Dakota's aviation department indicates major airlines will need to hire 60,000 pilots by 2025 to replace departures and cover expansion over the next eight years. Meanwhile, only 36,000 pilots have passed the Air Transport Pilot exam in the past eight years, which all pilots would have to pass under the Congressionally imposed rules, and there are limits to the ability of airlines, especially the regional carriers, to attract more pilots by raising wages. While the industry's health has improved in recent years, many carriers still operate on thin profit margins, with the airlines sandwiched between rising costs for fuel and unsteady demand from price-sensitive consumers. 'It certainly will result in challenges to maintain quality,' says John Marshall, an independent aviation-safety consultant who spent 26 years in the Air Force before overseeing Delta's safety. 'Regional carriers will be creative and have to take shortcuts' to fill their cockpits."

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