Cora: is it time to shut down the flight schools?

“Cora is an electric ‘sky Uber drone’ from Google’s Larry Page and Sebastian Thrun, 2021 New Zealand launch plan” (electrek) shows a machine that can handle the roles of airplane or helicopter without depending on a human pilot or gasoline. Though it is still in development, I wonder if this means we should be thinking about shutting down flight schools. Despite the roughly $1 trillion spent by NASA plus a lot of R&D dollars spent by traditional certified aircraft manufacturers worldwide, we’re not that far from the 1930s when it comes to passenger-carrying airplanes and helicopters.

What do readers think? Will this kill interest in the Cessna 172, Robinson R44, and similar hands-directly-connected-to-flight-controls machines? Personally I would consider it a huge advance if the electric motors and relatively modest cruise speed means that Cora lacks the deafening interior noise and bone-shaking vibration of a piston-powered light aircraft.

5 Comments

  1. toucan sam

    March 13, 2018 @ 11:45 pm

    1

    i think flying will become a past time like sailing is now.

  2. J. Peterson

    March 14, 2018 @ 4:23 am

    2

    I’m surprised the vertical lift motors don’t tilt and become the forward propulsion. Seems like a waste to have all that hardware as drag and dead-weight during regular flight.

  3. George A.

    March 14, 2018 @ 9:24 am

    3

    @Peterson: Transitioning the vertical lift motors from lift to forward propulsion is very difficult to achieve without putting the aircraft in danger. The design they used of lift and forward propulsion is simple and elegant. As for the drag, it can be addressed by folding-in the lift rotters, but you are right about the extra weight.

    @Philg: The only place I can see where this can be used is in the suburbs where homes will need to have at least 1 acre of land around them (wires and tree density will make this useless in many areas). Also, the destination must meet the same criteria. The alternative is to create mini-airports to which people would drive to and then take one of those aircraft to their final destination (but then they will need yet another ride. The mini-airports can be achieved on small land because you do not need a runway or gates. This is why it is probably being currently tested in New Zealand — they have more open land.

  4. Colin

    March 14, 2018 @ 10:29 am

    4

    I think it’s more likely we’ll see these permitted with a less-complex license to start. The aircraft can tell the operator where it thinks it can go, the operator will choose the final course, and the aircraft will actuate the controls. Not to mention that Uber still can’t get my home address right even though I designate it on the map every time. I can believe they can make flying much easier quickly but full autonomy feels like a much larger leap outside of narrow test cases.

    Also, I think this is a great opportunity for the AOPA/EAA to rally broader support for smaller airports and access to the NAS. Most towns inside 128 would not want these coming in and out of peoples’ backyards so nearby small airports have real value. #MGAGA

  5. superMike

    March 14, 2018 @ 12:26 pm

    5

    ‘”We have been in contact with the F.A.A. and we see the regulators as friends,” Mr. Thrun said in an interview.’
    This should be interesting

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