Reader comment on: Winglets
Submitted by Kurt Richard Todoroff (United States), Oct 24, 2013 13:57
Nice piece that champions the superiority of free market motivations.
Unfortunately, Mister Mouawad's assertion
"Ever since the Boeing 707 kicked off the jet age more than 60 years ago, the basic design of an airplane has changed little."
is grossly inaccurate. His own rejoinder
"But new materials, better computing power and more refined mathematical models have allowed aerospace engineers to improve the basic features of large passenger jets, including the performance of their wings."
and his subsequent assertion
"The search for improvement in a plane's efficiency, no matter how small, comes after a surge in the price of fuel, which now accounts for roughly a third of an airline's costs."
compound his problem insofar as they imply that the pursuit of greater airliner fuel efficiency is both only a recent phenomenon, and is motivated by recently growing fuel prices. He is wrong on both counts.
The airline manufacturers, and their engine contractors, have made both small and large improvements to the aerodynamic qualities of the aircraft, and to the design and thermodynamic efficiencies of the engines, during the past sixty years that he cites. They did this to reduce airline operating expenses before the price of oil skyrocketed in late 1973. Technological improvements and breakthroughs do not occur according to pre-ordained timetables decreed by some centralized authority. They are evolutionary and unpredictable. Sometimes, the improvements and breakthroughs are small. Sometimes, they are huge. To cite but a few examples:
- The transition from the turbojet to the low bypass turbofan jet engine.
- The transition from the low bypass to to the high bypass turbofan jet engine.
- The use of composite materials.
- The use of use of laminar flow.
- The use of the supercritical wing.
- The use of fly-by-wire flight controls.
All of these technological developments, except for fly-by-wire flight controls, preceeded the rapidly increasing price of oil that he cites.
I applaud Mister Mouawad's admiration for free markets, and the seeming miracles that they produce. He is correct. However, the quest for greater efficiency in anything, not just planes and cars, is part of the glory of the human spirit. "Hmmm. How can I make that better? Or, faster? Or, lighter? Or, hotter? Or, cooler? Or, safer. Or, more attractive. Or, …." This is the essence of a free person, a free mind, and a free spirit.
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Other reader comments on this item
|Nothing new here [228 words]||Lyle||Oct 24, 2013 19:14|
|⇒ Winglets Article: [394 words]||Kurt Richard Todoroff||Oct 24, 2013 13:57|
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