Family Booted From Delta Flight and Threatened With Jail

Lindsey Beaver – The Washington Post:

A Southern California father said he and his family were booted from a Delta flight after they declined to give up a seat they had bought for their teenage son and were attempting to use for his 2-year-old sibling.

This time the airline has it right: passengers cannot transfer a ticket from the original ticket holder to someone else.

This ticket was purchased in the name of the family’s teenaged child; it cannot be used for the 2-year-old.

Ya gots ta follow the rules. Or take a bus.

#airlines #delta #passenger #family #ticket #transfer

A Look Inside Airbus’s Epic Assembly Line

A wealth of gorgeous photography following an Airbus 321 through assembly in Mobile, AL, and this very telling paragraph about how American manufacturing jobs have changed over the years (The New York Times):

Almost a third of American factory workers now hold four-year college degrees, a trend that reflects the increasingly cerebral nature of the work. At the Airbus factory, few end the day with dirty hands or tired muscles. Even the physical work requires care more than force; it’s in the fingers, not the shoulders. The final assembly-line hangar at the heart of the Airbus campus in Mobile is flooded with light and eerily quiet. When I visited in March, I could hear a worker whistling all the way from the other side of the vast hall.

#US #manufacturing #jobs #skilled #labor #college #degree

SpaceX, preparing for Falcon Heavy, asks for more landing pads

Ars Technica:

With a number of successful Falcon booster landings behind it, SpaceX is getting ready to try something likely to be a bit more challenging: three nearly simultaneous landings. This doesn’t mean SpaceX is upping its launch schedule; instead, the three boosters will all be part of the planned Falcon Heavy vehicle.

Essentially three standard Falcons strapped together, the big rocket will be capable of lifting 54 metric tons into orbit.

54 metric tons. Think of what a half-dozen launches per year atop these re-usable Falcon boosters could put into orbit. A shipyard for building and re-plenishing a Mars transfer vehicle, perhaps?

Consider that the simplest and most crew-friendly way to get to and from Mars is a large, well-provisioned craft that never need enter or leave an atmosphere or gravity well. Without the need of an aerodynamic shape or structural strength beyond what can hold together in a low-Earth and low-Mars orbit (think International Space Station), a craft could be arbitrarily large and capable of attaching multiple cargo and fuel modules. The only limiting factor is the point of diminishing returns, where you’re just hauling more fuel to transport the mass of more fuel.

Said vehicle would orbit Earth as it’s built, outfitted, tested and, eventually, fueled. A de-orbit burn puts into elliptical orbit from which it slingshots out to Mars, where an equivalent burn tucks it into orbit there. Cargo modules may be de-orbited to future human landing sites. Human-capable modules may be de-orbited to bring us to the surface for habitat construction and ascent back to the transfer vehicle. The transfer vehicle itself is never more than a large, modular and comfortable bus for the commute back and forth between planets.

Just spitballing here. An idea like this no doubt exists somewhere. Execution begins with heavy-lift rocketry, and that becomes affordable with re-usable launchers. We already have those.

Navy’s Historic Drone Launch: More Autonomous Than You Might Think

Spencer Ackerman, writing about today’s X-47B aircraft carrier drone launch for Wired:

“‘The Navy’s model is different from the Air Force’s,’ said Rear Adm. Ted Branch, the commander of Naval Air Forces Atlantic. ‘We don’t have someone actively flying this machine with a stick and a throttle. We fly it with a mouse and a keyboard.’ In military nomenclature, the Air Force has drone pilots; the Navy has drone operators.”

I didn’t know that. There’s no remote pilot controlling the Navy’s UCAV, only a flight plan and a computer algorithm executing that plan, and a fail-safe human watching over it. Let’s hope the human stays in the loop for the kill decision (great book, BTW).

McDonnell: We Should not be Afraid of Drones

Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell (R-surprise, surprise):

“‘We should not be afraid of any new technologies consistent with our civil liberty,’ says Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell.

Virginia isn’t using any drone technology right now, but McDonnell says they could use it in the future.”

… because law enforcement has never misused technology to violate citizen’s civil liberties. Ever.

A clue, Bob. It’s not the drones we’re concerned with so much as the government agency personnel using them.

‘Jonathan Livingston Seagull’ Author Crashes Plane

“Richard Bach, the author of the 1970s best-selling novella ‘Jonathan Livingston Seagull’ among other spiritually oriented books rooted in themes of flight and self-discovery, was in serious condition Saturday after his small plane crashed in Washington state.”

I liked his work quite a bit, especially ‘Jonathan.’ It had a decidedly seventies feel and appealed to the heartbroken, yet hopeful. I hadn’t thought about it much in the two decades since, until I came across this news item. Be well, Richard.

Final Air France Crash Report Says Pilots Failed To React Swiftly

“A series of errors by pilots and a failure to react effectively to technical problems led to the crash of Air France Flight 447, France’s Bureau of Investigation and Analysis said Thursday in its final report on the disaster.”

The final word on the crash of AFR447 puts the blame squarely on the pilots, who flew a perfectly good airplane into the ocean. Given the darkness of night and buffeting from surrounding storms the passengers likely didn’t know what was coming.

There’s been speculation that Boeing jets, which have direct feedback from one pilot’s control yolk on the other’s, would have allowed the non-flying pilot to become aware that the aircraft wing was stalled by the flying pilot’s control inputs.