Category Archives: Transportation

NZ air carrier sees electric aircraft for regional, smaller aircraft flights

Sounds Air is looking replace small aircraft, on shorter regional routes, with electric powered aircraft. Notes that maintenance costs will be far less than conventional gas and jet powered aircraft.

The Climate Change Commission wants electric planes on regional routes by 2030. It may happen much sooner.

Source: Electric passenger aircraft on the horizon for regional routes, aviation industry says | Stuff.co.nz

Ravn Alaska to use electric aircraft perhaps by 2025

For short flights of 100 to 500 miles with 9 passengers.

Ravn Alaska said it will buy 50 electric planes from the California-based company Airflow when they come onto the market. Airflow’s planes will use batteries instead of gas to power their engines.But first, the company has to finalize its aircraft design. Airflow CEO Marc Ausman said he hopes to have Airflow’s planes ready for service by 2025.

Source: Ravn Alaska to purchase fleet of electric aircrafts – Alaska Public Media

United and Mesa Airlines to use electric aircraft as soon as 2026

“United Airlines Ventures (UAV) announced today it, along with Breakthrough Energy Ventures (BEV) and Mesa Airlines, has invested in electric aircraft startup Heart Aerospace. Heart Aerospace is developing the ES-19, a 19-seat electric aircraft that has the potential to fly customers up to 250 miles before the end of this decade. In addition to UAV’s investment, United Airlines has conditionally agreed to purchase 100 ES-19 aircraft, once the aircraft meet United’s safety, business and operating requirements. Mesa Airlines, United’s key strategic partner in bringing electric aircraft into commercial service, has also agreed to add 100 ES-19 aircraft to its fleet, subject to similar requirements.”

Press release

At the present time, this technology is for relatively short haul, small regional flights. Am not yet seeing a path forward for continental spanning or international flights in large, electrically powered aircraft. Some think this may be solved with hydrogen-fueled aircraft (but hydrogen has a low energy density).

What is the point of border travel restrictions?

The World Health Organization has said that travel restrictions are not effective saying they may work, briefly, to slow the spread within the first few weeks, but otherwise do not work.

So of course, nations put up often porous travel restrictions.

I watched a Youtube video where a couple wanted to drive their RV to Alaska, via Canada. Per the US State Department, Americans are prohibited from entering Canada – except for a class of “essential” persons.

So one of the two took a short summer job in Alaska. Then, they could cross the border into Canada, and drive to Alaska, work for a bit, and then spend the summer touring Alaska in their RV.

Face plant.

Canadians can fly to and from US destinations but Americans who are non-essential and worthless are not permitted to enter Canada.

In the case of Mexico, land border crossings are closed to most – but Americans may fly to and from Mexico destinations. This makes sense, how?

Last updated: June 21, 2021

COVID-19 Related Travel Restrictions across the U.S. Borders with Canada and Mexico

  • The United States will temporarily limit inbound land border crossings from Canada and Mexico to “essential travel”.
  • This action does not prevent U.S. citizens from returning home.
  • These restrictions are temporary and went into effect on March 21, 2020. They will remain in effect through 11:59 pm on  July 21, 2021.  This decision has been coordinated with the Governments of Mexico and Canada.
  • The following categories do not fall within the definition of “essential travel:” 
    • Individuals traveling for tourism purposes, such as sightseeing, recreation, gambling, or attending cultural events in the United States.
  • Who is considered an “essential” traveler? 
    • Citizens and lawful permanent residents returning to the United States.
    • Individuals traveling for medical purposes (e.g., to receive medical treatment in the United States).
    • Individuals traveling to attend educational institutions.
    • Individuals traveling to work in the United States (e.g., individuals working in the agriculture industry who must travel between the United States and Canada or Mexico in furtherance of such work).
    • Individuals traveling for emergency response and public health purposes (e.g., government officials or emergency responders entering the United States to support federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial government efforts to respond to COVID-19 or other emergencies).
    • Individuals engaged in lawful cross-border trade (e.g., truck drivers supporting the movement of cargo between the United States and Canada and Mexico).
    • Individuals engaged in official government travel or diplomatic travel.
    • Individuals engaged in military-related travel or operations.
  • The United States is coordinating closely with Canada and Mexico to protect our citizens while minimizing adverse economic impacts. 

Q&A 

Q:  What will this mean for airline travel and other travel across the border?
A:  This action does not apply to air, rail, or sea travel at this time, but does apply to commuter rail and ferry travel.

Source: Travel Restrictions – Fact Sheet – U.S. Embassy & Consulates in Mexico

Note the last point – you can’t drive to/from Mexico, but you can fly to/from Mexico. And Canadians can do the same to/from the U.S. (but Americans cannot due to restrictions imposed by Canada).

Numerous countries blocked travel to and from India months ago, due to the “Delta” variant. As of last week, the Delta variant was documented in over 90 countries – including in Australia, and presently on board a fishing vessel docked in New Zealand.

The travel restrictions did not stop the Delta variant from spreading. It is possible the Delta mutation developed in multiple places, too.

Related: See how Dr. Eric Feigl-Ding lobbied vociferously to keep U.S. schools closed, while he and his family secretly moved to Austria so their son could attend an open, in-person school there.  And did this while the border is closed to most Americans (his wife is Austrian so they could cross the border). Border restrictions are for unimportant, non-essential, worthless peons, which is most of us.

Tesla upgrading Supercharger network to 300 kW

This work with Tesla vehicles designed to charge at the 300 KWH rate. Regardless, the Tesla charging network is a major competitive advantage for Tesla (certainly true when I look within 150 miles of where I live).

Elon Musk confirmed that Tesla is upgrading the Supercharger network from 250 kW to 300 kW max capacity in order to enable faster charging.

Source: Elon Musk: Tesla is upgrading Supercharger network to 300 kW faster charging – Electrek

Chevy Bolt EV with “fix” to prevent battery fires, catches fire

There are now two of the “fixed” (post recall) Chevy Bolt TVs that have caught fire.

Previously GM said there is a defect in the batteries but said a software update would detect failures before they became a problem, and enable batteries to be repaired early on.

Sort of looks like the fix is not working.

A Chevrolet electric vehicle owned by Vermont state Rep. Timothy Briglin, who has backed the industry, caught fire while charging in his driveway, police said.

Source: Chevy Bolt EV belonging to Vermont lawmaker who has backed industry catches fire

Awesome and innovative light aircraft design

Go down through the whole thread to see photos (mostly captures from Microsoft Flight Simulator). Very clever design here from the 1970s. Some investors are trying to bring it back to life today.

When will air travel – including international – come back?

United Airlines CEO:

Kirby stated that personal travel has rebounded and leisure travel has “more than 100 percent recovered.”

The airline CEO also said he expects European travel to “come back largely in full” the moment that borders are fully reopened, while travel in Asia will likely take “18 to 24” months to fully recover.

Source: United CEO: My guess is airline mask mandate will expire in September | TheHill

Summary of the following

  • Airlines that are mostly domestic have begun recalling and hiring new pilots. They will enter a training and certification pipeline that gets them on revenue flights 5-9 months later. This process will be ongoing with new cohorts brought in from now through mid-2022.
  • Airlines that have many international routes may be re-staffing at slower rates. Their plans suggest they don’t see global international traffic resuming until mid-2022 to late 2023.

Pilot Hiring at US and EU Airlines

Most airlines have begun re-calling furloughed staff – some began those recalls early in 2021, some in the spring and some say their recalls will be ongoing out to the end of 2021.

Once recalled, pilots are scheduled into training cohorts – it is then 5 to 9 more months before they are flying revenue flights. (More on this here but some of their info is presented in a confusing way.)

Some airlines have begun hiring to replace pilots who chose early retirement and some that left the field during last year’s pandemic.

Full staffing for domestic flights will be coming back through early to mid-2022.

  • Airlines that are primarily “domestic” carriers in the U.S. and the EU (e.g. Ryanair) have plans to hire more pilots from now through 2023.
  • Carriers that do a lot of international routes – like Air France-KLM and Lufthansa, have announced that they are still laying off workers in 2021. Qantas, which flies international routes, has begun hiring a small number of pilot trainees for domestic fight positions.

My interpretation of this is airlines are prep’ing for resumption of robust domestic air travel well into 2022, but see international travel resuming over a longer period, out into 2023. Until international travel restrictions let up, global travel will remain subdued.

Delta Airlines previously said they did not expect to recover to 2019 levels until sometime in 2023. And some think it will be 2024 to 2025 before global air traffic is back to 2019 levels.

Business travel may be reduced for years to come as many companies may turn to video conferencing. Business travelers often paid premium ticket prices – and without their subsidy to leisure travelers, leisure travel may be priced higher too. Or, more airlines may adopt the “discount” model like RyanAir or Frontier, Spirit and Allegiant – where seats are cheap but using the bathroom may cost extra.