Lately, I’ve had two images stuck in my head. The first is an Interstate highway overwhelmed by gridlock. The second is a graph of the population of the United States.
As the population continues to climb, real estate continues to increase in value. Along with population increases come surface transportation challenges.
Unless we annex Canada and move millions of people north of the 49th parallel, ground transportation woes — especially in major cities — will continue to be our future.
For that reason, the airspace above us all has never been more valuable and at the same time will never again be this cheap.
That plays a huge factor — I believe — in why Amazon seeks to develop a fleet of delivery drones. The company’s business model crumbles if it can’t deliver your order.
And it is just one of thousands of businesses that see the need — not just a desire — to maximize the use of airspace for business.
Sure, it is hard to see Uber Elevate‘s vision come to reality. But I suppose many naysayers didn’t believe doctors could transplant a human heart until it happened.
There have to be millions of examples of things that were “impossible” until the moment they weren’t.
While the hype that often surrounds a “groundbreaking new technology” that will “re-write the rules” often succumbs to hyperbole, it is shortsighted to dismiss the thinking — and technology — behind the flashy public relations campaigns.
Electric engines will become reality. Battery capacity will improve to the point of being practical.
To prove the point, think back 15 years to the 100th anniversary of powered flight. The year was 2003. If I had told you cockpit navigation — at the time, powered by the lowly paper chart — would be completely replaced, for many pilots, by a handheld electronic device you’d have laughed in my face. And yet an iPad with ForeFlight is all many pilots carry today.
Milestones in aerospace in the near future — and beyond — will not be driven by “can we?” but by “we must!”
The wide open space above us is simply too attractive for business to be ignored. And once those flood gates open, I hope we can all swim.