Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Hello World!

Welcome to the new home of a new kind of project, a global
mass-collaboration to design a new aircraft. Think of it as
a sort of Linux with wings. This is the original email I
sent out to as many people as I could think of to begin the
creative process.

If you got one of these, either directly from me, or
forwarded from someone else, consider yourself present at the
creation, hence the name of this blog. You are in really
excellent company.

Call for Comments

I've been reading Tapscott's and William's new book,
"Wikinomics." I recommend it.

I'm inspired by it to try a new mass-collaboration event.
I intend to start a project like Linux, but to design
(and eventually offer for manufacture) a twenty-seat
commercial aircraft to provide air-taxi service in rural
regions that can't support scheduled commercial operations.
The current configuration is a high-wing, tricycle gear,
three-surface, twin-engined turbo-prop with the engines
situated above the wing a la QSRA. The design intent is
safe, reliable operation out of soft, unimproved fields
and a high cruise speed for good economic productivity.

There are a LOT of things that will have to be resolved
before we can declare victory, but those things will be
very helpful to everyone, I think. We may need open source
versions of finite element analysis programs, vibration
analysis programs, CAD programs, aero-analysis programs,
and no doubt a bunch of other software that I'm not even
aware of at this point. Moreover, we will have to break
trail on new processes for aircraft certification. Make
no mistake, this is fraught with difficulties.

The cool part is that at completion, we will have a fully
designed and certified aircraft with no IP (intellectual
property) costs. The whole thing will be done under a
general public license. This can be a big help to drive
down the costs of this aircraft. With the cost of acquisition
lowered to something that one or two people could conceivably
get a loan to buy, we put the pilot community in the same
place truck drivers have been for decades: they can own the
means of production and become owner-operators. Moreover,
this can open up vastly improved air communications to people
who live in sparsely settled areas around the world.

With a general public license, the airplane can be
manufactured just about anywhere: China, India, the US, Europe.
Anywhere where a firm can be found or established to obtain a
production certificate.

One minor variation is the seaplane. For those who remember
the Grumman Widgeon that snap-rolled into the surf in Florida,
this is an opportunity to replace that generation of seaplanes
that should have been replaced decades ago with a new model
that will be much safer and more reliable, if one with
somewhat less cachet.

One further cool thing: I intend for it to be as
environmentally benign as possible through selection of
materials and design for sustainable bio-fuels (pretty
trivial technically, but important) like bio-diesel and

I think we can get people to work on this in their spare time,
especially college students. This is a great resume item,
rather like participating in a Linux development team. There
are also a lot of airplane professionals who aren't doing the
sort of work they'd like, or perhaps aren't doing any work at
all, and would like to indulge themselves by working on a
design team. It's cool.

To really put the cat amongst the pigeons, I’m thinking that
we may want to design and build an open-source FMC and
possibly even an open-source auto-pilot. Frankly, my
understanding of avionics is slightly more sophisticated
than rubbing sticks together, but even I am aware (through
the generous offices of the people on this list) that they
are mostly computers. With this in mind, would someone please
cross-post this to the Bluecoat (Bluejacket?) mailing list?
I used to be a member some years ago, but now I can’t even
remember who to email to be added again. My thanks in

My next steps are to find the right software to run this
kind of effort and to find someone who is willing to host
it. I have a few ideas, and I'm wondering if you folks
have any.

Best regards,

Terry Drinkard

1 comment:

Terry said...

Hello all. My intention is to use the posts as a starting point for a conversation in the comments section attached to each post. Feel free to invite others to comment.