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point-to-point passenger flight

Posted by: Ekkehard Augustin - Thu Dec 30, 2004 2:36 pm
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point-to-point passenger flight 
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Post    Posted on: Wed Feb 09, 2005 1:24 pm
The two hours before flight time are required because of organizational and coordinational reasons.

In Germany it is required too to be at the airport two hours before the flight but by my own experiences I can say that the boarding process of thirty passengers is shorter than half the time required to board sixty passengers.

The observation you are mentioning simply menas that the airlines and airports don't transfer the advantage to their customers.

The process of fuelling a suborbital vehicle will be undergoing improvements and be made faster - experiences will be got, Virgin Galactics staff will be trained more and more by the number of launches for example and much more. All that will reduce the time required for such processes - there will be a learning-curve be observed. What has to be compared are situations at the same point of such a curve. But normal airplane flights and suborbital flights are at quite different points of such a curve. Normal airplane flights already are at the end of learning while suborbital flights are at the beginning of learning. I implicitly have been speaking about a situation when aubornital flight has achieved the end of learning too.

But this has to do not with pubkic perception but with Economics.



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Post    Posted on: Wed Feb 09, 2005 2:53 pm
I'm still not convinced that you can make any real time savings on boarding but cant be bothered to argue this anymore.

OK, if you talk about a sub-orbital craft at some future point in time it will have to deal with the same amount of or more regulations that apply to commercial planes now, something that is not required at the moment so that the technology will have a chance to develop before it is crushed by legislation (this is why the sub-orbital passenger is required to fly at their own risk). A future sub-orbital commercial flight passenger will not put up with that requirement, sufficient numbers will not see the necessity to accept a higher risk to save a few hours travelling time to create the economies of scale you talk about.

The real problem will be cost, most people were not willing to spend the extra money for the shorter journey time on Concorde. I cant see them spending 10x the fare of a plane to save a few hours. Dont say it wont be that much because you or I dont know how much it will be but one thing is certain the price will not come down to the same as a plane for a very long time (perhaps never).

For a sub-orbital craft to work for passengers wanting to go long distances it will need to:

1. Be large enough to carry a lot of passengers, probably more than 50
2. Be totally reusable, cant have 100s of flights all dumping parts everywhere.
3. As safe as a commercial plane.
4. Probably no more than double the cost of a business class ticket, giving a large section of the public who would use it.
5. Have a fast turn around time, no slower than a plane.
6. Have sufficent long distance destinations, not everyone will want to fly to the same place.

All of the above are doable in the long term but by the time it happens planes may have evolved into hypersonic aircraft so the time saving would probably not be sufficient to make them viable.

Short term there may be a market for thrill seekers wishing to round of a sub-orbital flight with a stay in New York or somewhere but I suspect this is not a big enough market to keep a sustained industry going. Sub-orbital flights will help develop orbital stays on space stations or trips to the moon but are not likely to produce a domestic point to point transport system.

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Post    Posted on: Wed Feb 09, 2005 2:55 pm
Ekkehard Augustin wrote:
So costs, prices and capacities shouldn't be dicussed here - these are topics for the Financial Barriers section.

I agree.

More on topic, how well do you think the general public will accept the high gee and weightless portions of a point to point suborbital flight? Could this ever be considered as a routine method of travel for "normal" purposes?


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Post    Posted on: Wed Feb 09, 2005 3:30 pm
Rutan and Branson already are working on the topics high gee and weightlessness regarding the five vehicles for Virgin Galactic.

Branson has set the constraints and Rutan is developing vehicles fitting in that constraints. One result is that the "seats" are mere "beds".

This is one step further to future ideas to handle high gee and weightlessness by ways that help to get the general public's acceptance.

When there have been several flights of these improved vehicles there will be experiences to find further improvements. Each step will result in a new generation of suborbital vehicles - SSO is the first generation, Virgin Galactic's vehicles are the second generation and so on.

There are different generations of passengers too - Mike Melville and Brian Beeney are the first generation and Virgin Galactic's customers are the second generation. If the second generation of customers - 13,500 people up to now - feel the flight a positive experience then this will increase the acceptance of the general public regarding high gee and weightlessness.

The suborbital vehicles all are in their infancy and they are growing up fast like a child less than one year old. The second generation of vehicles of Scaled/Mojave are scheduled to be ready at the end of 2007 - and Rutan said that he is six months ahead of the schedule while being three months in the schedule.

There will be a pause between the second generation of Scaled/Mojave's vehicles and their third generation - but in between other companies will develop their own generations making use of experiences made by Scaled/Mojave's second generation.

Also Virgin Galactic's vehicles themselves will be improved regarding "seats" and other interieur.

Rutan and Branson will do what ever they can to get the acceptance of the general public. They must for getting profits.



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Post    Posted on: Wed Feb 09, 2005 3:38 pm
Well, you have not really addressed the issue. A large number of people who fly now only do so reluctantly. They are afraid of flying but have to do it anyway. Any suborbital flight will be a “wild ride” compared to a normal airline flight. Will people who are not seeking the thrill of suborbital flight ever use such a service just to get where they want to go? Maybe half the current airline customer base? And high cost will reduce the number by some larger percentage, but that is another topic.


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Post    Posted on: Wed Feb 09, 2005 3:55 pm
Yes they will.

You and me have a difference in the basics - you are arguing that any suborbital flight will be a wild ride whereas I see the chance that for the passengers this not necessaryly will be so.

To go by car for example is a wild ride too but you don't feel that. The road is causing dashes to the car from below but you don't feel them really because there is something called in German "Stoßdämpfer" - sorry but I cannot find the correct english translation right now. For the car the trip is a wild car but for you and your passengers it is not.

Regarding suborbital flights there is no road causing dashes from below but there will be techniques etc. be searched for - and found - that prevent the passengers from feeling the wild ride the suborbital flight is for the vehicle.

And really that is what Rutan and Branson are currently working on - in principle at least.

The question isn't the acceptance or perception of the wild ride but the acceptance or perception of the flight or/and the vehicle. If you can prevent the vehicle from letting feel the passengers the wild ride then much more people will accept it.



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Post    Posted on: Wed Feb 09, 2005 4:08 pm
As you point out, it is perception more than reality. Air travel, at least by scheduled airline, is safer than travel by car, but a lot of people don’t accept this on an emotional level.
Vehicle design can reduce the high gee problem but will do nothing about the weightlessness. The falling feeling you get during weightlessness will scare a lot of people off.


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Post    Posted on: Wed Feb 09, 2005 10:37 pm
Ekkehard- I think the word you might be looking for is either Shocks or Suspension... That's what keeps passengers from being bounced around too much everytime the car goes over a bump or hole in the road.

I think the perception of air travel to some is just an inane fear of heights, my sister cannot sit near a window seat, if she sees out of the plane to the ground below, she'll have an anxiety attack.

On the subject of weightlessness, it's true that the feeling of free fall will scare a lot of people off, but I think it will attract even more people, thrill seekers and adrenaline junkies like myself, or just people who want to undergo something completely new... Without the weightlessness, I think many people would be disappointed and let down with the overall experience of their trip into space.

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Post    Posted on: Thu Feb 10, 2005 8:21 am
Hello, Cathleen,

Thank you very much for helping me in finding the correct translations.

It's right what you are saying. I know all these general perception problems from the people around me - I am a rower and there are many people around me the fear the water and the rivers. My mother has been anxious of going by plane a very long time.

Perception seldom is there at the first moment of a new thing, technology and so on - it's evolving on middle and long runs and it is being assisted by adjustments of the new thing, technology etc.

Peter,

that's the reason why I said that Rutan and Branson are setting or laying the "Keim" of Poin-to-Point passenger flights. They offer it for fun - but out of this it could grow to serious business travels. People may become used to weightlessness at flights - it would be simple psychology and a change in the people's psychology. During the three flights of SSO last year there was weightlessness for a few minutes only and outside the atmosphere only - perhaps it will be easy to avoid weightlessness during point-to-point flights.

To explain my view again:Virgin Galactic's vehicles will be able to do point-to-point flights - without that no perception were possible, no experience etc. But the have that ability and the customers can order point-to-point-flights at Virgin Galactic - that's the "Keim".



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Post    Posted on: Thu Feb 10, 2005 2:40 pm
http://www.freetranslation.com says "keim" means "germ". The 4th definition of “germ” in www.dictionary.com is, “Something that may serve as the basis of further growth or development: the germ of a project”. So when Burt Rutan says, "The ship could launch not far from Las Vegas and land in Mojave, or, we could launch offshore, start out over the ocean and then... fly over the mountains and land in the desert. I think that will add something to the experience", you are taking this as the germ of a point to point suborbital travel industry.

I am thinking of what the fully mature industry would be like. Will there be hundreds of vehicles carrying passengers on scheduled flights from normal airports? Will businessmen take the suborbital shuttle from New York to London for a meeting? Will families with children fly suborbital to Hawaii for a vacation and not for the thrill of suborbital flight? Only this level of maturity will drive costs down to very low levels. If suborbital flights are limited to thrill seekers, then they will always be similar to the current trips to the pole, expensive thrill rides for a few rich people.


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Post    Posted on: Thu Feb 10, 2005 3:01 pm
You are thinking about how the future wil look like as it sounds. An interesting and important question... - but not the point I have in mind here.

The public perception is one of the major factors that determines that future by now PARTIALLY. The result of developments, modifications and improvements of numerous components of the vehicles are impacting the perception - the questions you are listing are hard to be answered here: Too detailed and a little bit off-topic I suppose.



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Post    Posted on: Thu Feb 10, 2005 3:03 pm
campbelp2002 wrote:
Will businessmen take the suborbital shuttle from New York to London for a meeting? Will families with children fly suborbital to Hawaii for a vacation and not for the thrill of suborbital flight? Only this level of maturity will drive costs down to very low levels. If suborbital flights are limited to thrill seekers, then they will always be similar to the current trips to the pole, expensive thrill rides for a few rich people.


I dont think that there will be a mass market for sub-orbital travel. Business men want to arrive at a meeting rested and well prepared, being subjected to a couple of Gs and floating around a cabin would not create the right mindset also a lot use the time on a plane to prepare. The type of meeting that requires a fast method of transport over long distances for a face-to-face talk is likely to reduce, most instances will be done using video conferencing or video phones which is an awful lot cheaper.

A lot of parents would think twice about subjecting their kids to this, we come back to the perception of danger that if the industry originally starts out with thrill seekers as passengers it will have the reputation of being risky. Families going on holiday would not choose a risky means of transport when there is a safer cheaper alternative. While people might be prepared to risk their own neck I cant see them doing the same for their kids. This will apply irrespective of how safe a flight becomes because once labelled as a thrill it will take some persuading that it is as safe as an aircraft.

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Post    Posted on: Thu Feb 10, 2005 3:13 pm
Ekkehard Augustin wrote:
the questions you are listing are hard to be answered here: Too detailed and a little bit off-topic I suppose.
They are totally on topic. Will the public ever perceive suborbital travel like they perceive supersonic travel?

Andy Hill wrote:
I dont think that there will be a mass market for sub-orbital travel.
This is the answer to my question. Andy’s answer is, no, the public will never perceive suborbital travel like they do supersonic travel. Does everyone agree?


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Post    Posted on: Thu Feb 10, 2005 8:48 pm
If a small amount of contiuous thrust was applied the effect would be like that of a highspeed elevator. There again there are people who will climb ten flights of stairs to avoid elevators, so what can you do?

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Post    Posted on: Thu Feb 10, 2005 10:12 pm
If thrust could be gradually reduced to zero over a period of 20 or 30 seconds, it might allow the passengers time to acclimate to zero G without the nervous ones panicking. Maybe someone could persuade (or even pay for) http://www.nogravity.com to do experiments to see how slowly gravity would have to be reduced to make the average person comfortable. Then all you need is enough volunteers who have never experienced zero G to see if it really works. Any of you interested?


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