tockeyhockey
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The Future Of Air Travel

Fri Mar 23, 2007 11:07 am

I was hoping to start a thread in which people would share views on what they see in the long term future for air travel.

I see three major obstacles in the way of continued airline growth in the coming years. I hope we can discuss them all:

1. Airspace. The airspace in the NE of the USA is already limiting efficiency. What will happen to it as more and more jets take to the skies in the coming years? Will the future hold smaller separation limits? What can be done to create more airspace?

2. Airport size and runways. As cities and suburbs grow, airports are becoming squeezed. Many major hub airports such as ORD and LHR are completely landlocked. What can be done in the next 10 to 20 years to fix this problem?

3. Traffic to and from airports. It has gotten to the point in many major US metro areas that travel time to the airport and security waits are longer than the average flight. Who is working on a system to move passengers more efficiently into and through airports?

Other topics that warrant discussion:

What will replace kerosene as the fuel for airliners?

Will airliners ever go supersonic again?

And will airlines ever be allowed to compete on a truly level playing field in terms of international routes?
 
PlymSpotter
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RE: The Future Of Air Travel

Fri Mar 23, 2007 11:14 am

Quoting Tockeyhockey (Thread starter):
What will replace kerosene as the fuel for airliners?

Synthetic Kerosene, produced from natural gas, pretty much as Qatar Airways are already planning to start using in a few years time. In theory, this makes oil derivatives a renewable form of energy, but despite this I think cleaner fuels will be developed, it would be good to see a resurgence in HYTOL technology, but I'm not sure if that could be made practical for a long time to come.


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Stealthz
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RE: The Future Of Air Travel

Fri Mar 23, 2007 11:25 am

Quoting PlymSpotter (Reply 1):
this makes oil derivatives a renewable form of energy

How does making anything from natural hydrocarbon deposits make it a renewable source?
Larger reserves perhaps than previously thought but still finite.

[Edited 2007-03-23 04:26:38]
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SkyexRamper
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RE: The Future Of Air Travel

Fri Mar 23, 2007 10:57 pm

The future of air travel = longer slower lines with more and more rules to impede the process of smooth operations.

Quoting Tockeyhockey (Thread starter):
Will airliners ever go supersonic again?



Quoting Tockeyhockey (Thread starter):
And will airlines ever be allowed to compete on a truly level playing field in terms of international routes?

Probably never in our life times. Supersonic flight would have to be made super efficient and have long legs to make it worth while and how a lot of passengers. International flying are the money makers so where ever an airline can have minimal competition it'll fight to keep it that way.
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Jammin
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RE: The Future Of Air Travel

Fri Mar 23, 2007 11:59 pm

Quoting Tockeyhockey (Thread starter):
2. Airport size and runways. As cities and suburbs grow, airports are becoming squeezed. Many major hub airports such as ORD and LHR are completely landlocked. What can be done in the next 10 to 20 years to fix this problem?

One way to improve the airport experience is what is being done in HKG, where you can check-in for your flight and I believe drop off checked baggage (not sure on that one) at the airport train terminal in the city. This alleviates long check-in lines at the airport itself.

Now, if we could only clear security at a city terminal, take a train (behind security) and disembark at the airport terminal behind security. That would be awesome! And I don't think it's too hard to implement.
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planemaker
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RE: The Future Of Air Travel

Sat Mar 24, 2007 1:33 am

Quoting Tockeyhockey (Thread starter):
1. Airspace.

On the one hand, technology, and on the other, industry consolidation.

Quoting Tockeyhockey (Thread starter):
2. Airport size and runways.

See above.

Quoting Tockeyhockey (Thread starter):
3. Traffic to and from airports.

See above.

Quoting Tockeyhockey (Thread starter):
What will replace kerosene as the fuel for airliners?

Syn fuel.

Quoting Tockeyhockey (Thread starter):
Will airliners ever go supersonic again?

Biz jets, yes in our lifetime... airliners, probably not.

Quoting Tockeyhockey (Thread starter):
And will airlines ever be allowed to compete on a truly level playing field in terms of international routes?

Absolutely.
Nationalism is an infantile disease. It is the measles of mankind. - A. Einstein
 
PlymSpotter
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RE: The Future Of Air Travel

Sat Mar 24, 2007 2:01 am

Quoting StealthZ (Reply 2):
How does making anything from natural hydrocarbon deposits make it a renewable source?
Larger reserves perhaps than previously thought but still finite.

There are processes which can transform Methane into Natural Gas, currently a proportion of Natural gas still has to be added to make up the balance, but this amount is decreasing as the technology advances further. Methane is produced naturally from many situations involving decomposition, currently we let most of it infiltrate the atmosphere, but if we harnessed it, then it could be used for such applications, whilst also reducing greenhouse gas emissions.


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USADreamliner
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RE: The Future Of Air Travel

Mon Mar 26, 2007 1:04 am

The 797 is awesome !!! Too bad all major american carriers dissapeared long time ago, only Southwest survived. So, hurry up and use your miles !
 
rdwelch
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RE: The Future Of Air Travel

Mon Mar 26, 2007 1:18 am

I believe that more legacy/major airlines will start to buy or develop their own refineries. For those smaller airlines they will develop almost a co-op that will share refineries or their costs. With these refineries you'll start seeing more R & D towards alternative fuels and a spike in the number of patents in these fuels.

Now I realize that the energy companies, oil and gas in particular, aren't going to give up this part of their income without a fight. However there might be a point when either through legislation or outright political pressure the airlines will be able to take control their own fuel sources.

Just a thought.

Gus.
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tockeyhockey
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RE: The Future Of Air Travel

Fri Mar 30, 2007 1:29 am

my biggest concern is on airplane spacing during low visibility days. it seems crazy to me that low clouds can cause hours of circling at the major east coast airports.

will we ever see a day when jets land with separations of a quarter or a half mile? what can be done to fix the airspace crunch?
 
DL4EVR
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RE: The Future Of Air Travel

Fri Mar 30, 2007 2:00 am

Quoting SkyexRamper (Reply 3):
The future of air travel = longer slower lines with more and more rules to impede the process of smooth operations.

Totally what I'm thinking. Just as things start to improve, I'm sure the Terrorism Support Agency will find a way to screw the airlines and pax over again.
We Love To Fly And It Shows.
 
jetdeltamsy
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RE: The Future Of Air Travel

Fri Mar 30, 2007 12:33 pm

Quoting Tockeyhockey (Thread starter):
What will replace kerosene as the fuel for airliners?

Fuel supplies and price are the biggest threat to the future of aviation as we know it.

Unless alternatives forms of fuel or propulsion are developed, airlines and air travel as we know it will probably not last another 20 years.
Tired of airline bankruptcies....EA/PA/TW and finally DL.
 
cloudboy
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RE: The Future Of Air Travel

Fri Mar 30, 2007 1:58 pm

I don't think there is a dang logical thing about the aviation industry. But there are a few trends that I see some potential in happening.

One, I expect much smaller planes will dominate the high-end market - business and first class passengers will be more likely to take semi-chartered flights than major airline flights. Being more point to point, I expect to see a fuel savings here. It will, however, require more air traffic control. Advanced computer control and free-flight will probably become routine and may help alleviate this.

On the more common passenger level, I expect at some point to see a reversal of the smaller aircraft, switching to larger aircraft with less frequent schedules. Particularly as the business traveler switches to smaller semi-chartered flights (which very well may be run by the airlines), to save money larger aircraft with cater to the tourist class. This will also save fuel, which I don't see being replaced anytime soon. Eventually we might find an outsourcing model - only one or two airlines actually operate planes - the rest simply sell seats and outsource the flying. Things such as logo jets and total in flight advertising become routine.

I see little change in the check-in process. Eventually airports will be able to invest in infrastructure to clear larger numbers of people through security, but this will only realistically be done by increasing the amount of people and space dedicated to this function. Perhaps we will find less centralized cases of this, and a bigger dispersal of security checkpoints.

I would love to see rail become more dominant in the US between cities. Especially as aircraft get larger, rail connections between airports and smaller cities would become more viable. The typical trip would likely involve picking up a train from one city to a central large airport, flying between two large airports, and a final rail journey to your final city. A train can connect one airport and several small cities in one trip fairly efficiently, cutting down on the number of airports than an airline needs to serve by plane.

Of course, very few changes happen for a logical, planned reason. Most are immediate responses to immediate crisis with little thought to the long term. So who really knows what will happen?
"Six becoming three doesn't create more Americans that want to fly." -Adam Pilarski
 
rwessel
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RE: The Future Of Air Travel

Fri Mar 30, 2007 4:50 pm

Quoting PlymSpotter (Reply 6):
There are processes which can transform Methane into Natural Gas, currently a proportion of Natural gas still has to be added to make up the balance

Natural gas as delivered to end users is almost pure methane. Raw natural gas (usually about 75-90% methane) contains a significant amount of ethane and propane, some heavier hydrocarbons, and a bunch of other junk that has to be cooked out.

You may be confusing this with the processing that many other methane sources require - for example, many biological sources generate a gas that's about half methane and half carbon dioxide, that has to be processed (again into mostly pure methane) before delivery to end users.
 
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SEPilot
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RE: The Future Of Air Travel

Fri Mar 30, 2007 8:53 pm

I think we will either develop oil shale (by far the most abundant petroleum source on the planet, and the vast majority of it in the US) and/or synthetic petroleum from organic waste. I do not forsee a departure from a kerosene-type fuel; it will be far cheaper to develop a new fuel compatible with existing engines than to replace them all, which would also mean that during the transition a dual fuel supply would have to be maintained. The same goes for road travel; whatever new fuel is developed will need to be compatible (perhaps with some modifications) with existing engines; there are just too many of them out there that require gasoline or diesel.
The problem with making things foolproof is that fools are so doggone ingenious...Dan Keebler