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Plane Simple Truth 460

Posted by samzenpus
from the read-all-about-it dept.
brothke writes "In the TV show House, M.D., a premise that protagonist Dr. Greg House holds dear is that people are liars and stupid. Real life is often not far from House's observation. At the general public level, people are often misled by their lack of common sense, their deficiency in understanding statistics and basic science, and therefore fall victim to the lies of the myriad charlatans that claim to have something that fixes everything. A piece I wrote on that issue, New York News Radio — The voice of bad science, details that. While it is too broad to call the authors of Fuel efficiency of commercial aircraft: An overview of historical and future trends liars; their mediocre research created the scenario that far too many took their research as reality. Known as the Peeters report, after lead author P.M. Peeters, the authors of Plane Simple Truth refute the wide-spread belief that the fuel efficiency gains in the commercial aviation sector are erroneous, which is the principle theme of the Peeters report." Keep reading for the rest of Ben's review.
Plane Simple Truth
author Geoffrey Thomas
pages 208
publisher Aerospace Technical Publications
rating 9
reviewer Ben Rothke
ISBN 978-0975234167
summary Valuable book in the important debate over greenhouse gases and aviations contribution to it
The aviation industry is often an environmental pariah, with environmentalists crying foul at the industry. But it is only a pariah due to flawed data that negatively influences the public debate, and this book attempts to set the record straight. Plane Simple Truth is an articulate and extremely well-written and researched rebuttal to the Peeters report, and other flawed studies.

The Peeters report flies in the face of reality, in which gains in jet engine efficiency over the last 40 years have been astounding. Contrast those gains with the popular Cadillac Escalade and similar SUV's whose mileage per gallon is often measured in single digits, and whose efficiencies have gone in the opposite direction.

The authors wrote Plane Simple Truth as they felt that never in recent history has an industry been so maligned and the public so misled by so much falsehood and distortion. With the Peeters report and climate activists pointing the accusing finger at the aviation industry, Plane Simple Truth is their defense.

The reality is that while the Detroit automakers were making huge gas guzzling SUV's well into 2008, companies such as Lockheed had fuel efficiency on their mind back to the 1970's. In fact, fuel efficiency has been a key factor in the aviation industry since the early days. This is based on simple economics and physics in that every pound of fuel, is a pound of payload that the airline cannot carry, which costs the airline money as fuel economy is a major driver in the industry. The bottom line is that fuel economy is absolutely critical in commercial aviation. Witness the number of aviation bankruptcies in 2008 when fuel prices soured.

Like a first-rate defense attorney, the book defends the industry against its charges. In every chapter, the authors show the errors, both intentional and those errors of omission, where incorrect reporting and research have negatively affected public opinion.

While not a book about the history of jet engines; the book details the fascinating and phenomenal improvement into the efficiency of the technology. But the underlying theme of the book is that of the environmental issues.

The book details the fundamental errors in the Peters and other environmental reports that have been often taken as the unquestionable truth. Rather than analyzing the facts like the book authors have done, the media often creates sensationalist headlines with an emphasis on short sound bites, often at the cost of scientific fact. Not only do the authors refute the Peeters report, they show in detail how important aviation is to the global economy. In fact, the aviation industry is critical to every growing economy.

The books 18 chapters cover the entire spectrum of jet emissions and their incredible development in detail. Current topics such as bio fuels and their promise, new engine technology, aerodynamic gains, green airlines and more are discussed. The book makes ample use of charts and photographs to illustrate its points.

Plane Simple Truth is a fascinating book that exposes the myriad errors of the flawed environmental studies. It is also a fascinating look at the development and history of jet engines, and the amazing progress that has come about in the last few decades. Huge strides have been made that increase power by significant amounts, while simultaneously cutting emissions. In fact, there are less environmental issues to worry about in the future due to aviation, given the significant strides that are being made.

The book makes many of its valuable points via the approach of letting charts and diagrams do the talking of often dry statistical facts. Be it fuel efficiency, less emissions, or toxic gases, the book shows that misplaced myths and the smoke and mirror games that are often used by those with an agenda, have negatively affected the public's view of aviation.

We have seen that a single bad piece of research is enough to derail an entire industry and mislead the press and politicians. Plane Simple Truthis an important book that has relevance to everyone, as there is no one that is not positively affected by the aviation industry.

While the industry still has a long way to go in other areas such as passenger satisfactions, lost luggage, air traffic control delays and much more, the engine makers have continually pushed the envelope in terms of fuel efficiency and environmental concerns, and they have done this for well over half a century. This was long before the environment was a cool topic. It was also done when jet fuel was still quite cheap.

While the book's authors are intimately involved in the airline industry and clearly pro-airline, and the book's publisher is Aerospace Technical Publications; the authors let the facts speak for themselves. While greenhouse gases and their potential negative effects are part of the public and scientific debate, the ability of modern jet-engines to minimize those effects is clear. Plane Simple Truth is a valuable book in the important debate over greenhouse gases and aviation's contribution to it.

Ben Rothke is the author of Computer Security: 20 Things Every Employee Should Know.

You can purchase Plane Simple Truth from amazon.com. Slashdot welcomes readers' book reviews -- to see your own review here, read the book review guidelines, then visit the submission page.
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Plane Simple Truth

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  • charlatans (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mcgrew (92797) * on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @02:40PM (#25042883) Homepage Journal

    At the general public level, people are often misled by their lack of common sense, their deficiency in understanding statistics and basic science, and therefore fall victim to the lies of the myriad charlatans that claim to have something that fixes everything

    Are you calling yourself a charlatan? You keep talking about SUVs when they have nothing whatever to do with engine efficiency.

    In 1976 I bought a brand new four cylinder Chevy Vega. It was a power-poor dog with a small one barrel carburator. It was small and uncomfortable. The best mileage I measured with that car was 19 mpg.

    When its fuel pump went out two years later, I bought a used 1974 Pontiac Le Mans; a big, roomy, comfortable car with a 350 cubic inch V-8 engine. Someone had milled the heads, put a four barrel carburator and a dual exhaust on it. It hauled ass when I stomped the accellerator, and as long as I kept the big back two barrells from opening I could get 19 mpg on the highway with its mandatory 55 MPH speed limit.

    My current car is a Crysler Concorde with a fuel injected 28 valve V-6 engine. It's roomier and more comfortable than the Pontiac was, its braking and handling are better than any car I've owned, it's almost as fast as the Le Mans, but with its cruise control set at 55 MPH its fuel computer measures up to a 36 mpg average on a 100 mile trip. It uses little more than half the fuel of either the LeMans or the Vega. It has even better mileage than the tiny 1984 fuel injected four cylinder VW Rabbit I bought when Reagan was President.

    I don't know how much more efficient plane engines are today, but automobiles are twice as efficient as they were in the '70s.

    I daresay a new full sized Ford pickup truck gets better mileage than a 1975 full sized Ford of the same model.

    Comparing apples to oranges is what you're doing, and it's disinginuous.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I don't know how much more efficient plane engines are today, but automobiles are twice as efficient as they were in the '70s.

      And you're basing that on your own personal experience of three whole cars? I'm sold.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by mcgrew (92797) *

        And you're basing that on your own personal experience of three whole cars? I'm sold.

        You think I've only owned three cars in the last forty years, let alone only driven three cars in the last forty years? And I haven't even driven one of the new hybrids!

        Do you have any idea how bad the gas mileage was on my friend's 1968 GTO? Or my 1968 Mustang?

    • Re:charlatans (Score:5, Insightful)

      by hedwards (940851) on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @02:53PM (#25043043)

      Are you calling yourself a charlatan? You keep talking about SUVs when they have nothing whatever to do with engine efficiency.

      You do of course realize that SUVs are regulated as light trucks rather than cars and that small trucks are regulated under the same type of philosophy as commercial vehicles. Meaning that they might conform to higher standards, but they're only required to meet a much lower standard than typical cars. And furthermore that the standard was based upon assumptions which have long since been demonstrated to be false. Had light trucks continued to be pretty much just commercial, the lower standard would have had minimal negative impact. As opposed to now when many people drive a light truck as their main conveyance.

      So yes, it was a fair statement to suggest that an industry that's been fighting mandatory increases in engine efficiency for decades is different than one that has been trying to increase it over that period.

      American's don't want gas guzzlers but we also don't generally want to give up power or the other things which come from a larger engine. Reductions to weight in areas that don't affect safety are far more likely to go over well than things which make a vehicle actually smaller or appear girly.

      Of course as gas prices go up fuel efficiency will be more of an issue, but that doesn't let auto manufacturers off the hook for the fact that they haven't really been trying the way that they could have been during the interim.

      • by vijayiyer (728590)

        Regulations don't trump physics. Auto manufacturers all want fuel efficiency - if you come out with an SUV that gets 5mpg better than the competition, not only do you get more sales, but it helps you with CAFE.
        Unfortunately, it's not easy, even though you seem to think so.
        What vehicle components do you suggest be made lighter, and how? Can you tell me how to get a huge cube through the air at 80mph and not use a lot of power to do so?
        The bottom line is that the consumers have to make behavioural changes. It

        • Re:charlatans (Score:4, Insightful)

          by jedidiah (1196) on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @03:22PM (#25043459) Homepage

          Oh, it's easy. Just build better engines.

          The problem is that Detroit would rather invest in salesmen and
          advertising and figure out ways to sell more high margin doo-dads
          to the driving public.

          Ironically, one of the few automakers to apply this
          idea to "fuel economy" also makes airplane engines.

          Detroit always take the cheap and easy road and tends to
          focus on the next quarter's earnings reports. They can't
          even percieve their own self-interest past that point.

          That's why any time the market changes you need to put
          Detroit on deathwatch and then bail them out.

          Consumers just don't quite have the same motivation to be efficient that any large transport company does.

          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by cbreaker (561297)

            Are you kidding?

            Don't you realize that the engines we use in cars today are *FAR* superior to the engines of 20 years ago?

            Engineers have made huge progress on the internal combustion engine. They are so much more efficient now than ever imagined.

            Fuel economy is up, and environmental impact is down.

            One of the problems with the advances over the last two decades, though - is that instead of having these great designs in smaller cars, they put them in big trucks and SUVs. So, in effect: making engines mor

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by hardburn (141468)

            Oh, it's easy. Just build better engines.

            Do you have specific knowledge, or is this just deamonizing the people who actually are fixing the problem? (see also: hybrid Escalade, Chevy Volt, Ford Fiesta, etc.)

            4-stroke recipricating gas engines are a very mature technology. There are still a few things we might be able to get out of them (high compression combined with direct injection, direct computer-controled valve timing, and hydrogen injection come to mind), but for the most part we've already taken the

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by profplump (309017)

            Great. I'll just flip the "better engines" toggle on my car designing software and we'll be all set.

            Seriously, you totally missed the point of the parent post. You might argue that vehicle manufactures should spend more money researching engine design improvements, but it's absurd to suggest that they aren't already putting in the most efficient engine available to them at salable prices.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Rei (128717)

          It's not always as hard as you make it out to be, either. Small changes in shape that don't really even impact style or cost can make a huge difference. For example, SUVs are made with body-on-frame construction, not unibody. This makes it easier to churn out a couple new models every year, but makes them heavier and less safe. For another example, the Hummer H2 and Scion xB are both boxy vehicles, but the Hummer has a drag coefficient of 0.57 while the Scion has a drag coefficient of 0.35 (and I'm tal

      • Re:charlatans (Score:4, Insightful)

        by mcgrew (92797) * on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @03:54PM (#25044025) Homepage Journal

        All true, but completely beside the point. Auto engine efficiency has still doubled. An SUV is basically a big car body bolted to a truck frame. Take a truck chassis and power plant form 1970 and bolt an Escalade body on it and it will get roughly half the mileage as a new Escalade.

        The fact is they didn't make SUVs back then.

    • Re:charlatans (Score:5, Insightful)

      by pz (113803) on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @03:00PM (#25043157) Journal

      Are you calling yourself a charlatan? You keep talking about SUVs when they have nothing whatever to do with engine efficiency.
       
      ... and, oddly, neither does your post. You complain that the OP should be talking about engine efficiency, rather than vehicle efficiency, and the proceed to make an argument based on vehicle efficiency. Not only that, but your argument is severely flawed: you start with a purely anecdotal chain of three vehicles and use it to draw conclusions about the entire industry, neatly ignoring the fourth vehicle you mention at the end of your argument that doesn't fit into the chain. That's not sound, defensible logic, and were you to attempt to publish it as science, you'd be laughed out of the room.

      You, sir, are doing exactly what you are accusing the OP of doing, and doing more of it.

      • Re:charlatans (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Ungrounded Lightning (62228) on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @03:57PM (#25044067) Journal

        While his examples may have been anecdotal, they do correspond to what has been happening in the auto industry.

        Fuel economy - at least on the emissions-test operating cycle (which produces the mileage displayed on the stickers as a side-effect) has been a design consideration ever since its display for comparison was mandated. Part of that was the CAFE (corporate average fuel economy) requirements, but more of it was comparison shopping by buyers.

        The replacement of mechanical/pneumatic computation with digital engine control computers, along with improvements in materials, research into combustion, modeling of airflow and mechanical design, and decades of engineering work, have enabled major improvements in engine, powertrain, suspension, body shape, and other factors affecting fuel economy - with a cumulative effect that is drastic.

        The appearance of corporate hostility to fuel economy is largely an illusion. The companies are indifferent to anything but their bottom line - but they do try to improve fuel economy in cases where it sells cars.

        The issue with SUVs is an unintended consequence of regulations intended to improve fuel economy. SUVs are regulated as "trucks" and outside the CAFE computation. (Their original {and still necessary} primary use is as a utility vehicle for remote locations - such a ranches in rugged terrain. They're "SPORTS-utility" because some people used them for recreation in similar driving situations.) Tightening CAFE standards killed the station wagon. So families which needed room for kids and hauling stuff home bought them as the next least expensive alternitive. Then they got used as a commuter vehicle in lieu of buying an additional car. Once that became popular (and most SUVs weren't going off-road) the car companies advertised them to that market and retweaked the vehicle characteristics to attract a bigger share of the "mall-terrain vehicle" crowd - to the point that some models were ruined for off-road function and lost their original market.

        Of course this means that the eco-wackos are pushing to apply CAFE to SUVs. Which would just push the city customers up to the NEXT bigger gas hogs - vans and urban light trucks - while wrecking things for people in rural areas who really need an SUV for its original purpose. The car companies would be happy to sell station wagons again (or some other multi-passenger, high cargo capacity vehicle) - with better fuel economy, comfier ride, better safety on freeways, and a bigger market. But the regulations would have to change the other way for that to be practical.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by DaveV1.0 (203135)

      I daresay a new full sized Ford pickup truck gets better mileage than a 1975 full sized Ford of the same model.

      I wouldn't be so sure about that:

      2008: Ford F150 Pickup 2WD 6 cyl, 4.2 L, Manual 5-spd, Regular
      14 city
      20 hwy

      1985: Ford F150 Pickup 2WD 6 cyl, 4.9 L, Manual 4-spd, (FFS), Regular
      15 - 17 city
      20 - 22 hwy

      Source: User reports at fuelecomony.gov

      Smaller engine, more gears, worse economy.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Look up the differences in how they came up with the ratings between 1985 and 2008.

        You can't just look at the specific numbers and ignore the specs of the tests that brought about those numbers.

      • by jedidiah (1196)

        Detroit doesn't learn from it's mistakes. Just go to
        the Detroit show with a bunch of greasemonkeys and they
        will show you in gory detail how Detroit's competitors
        improve over time and pre-emptively solve (potential)
        problems in their own designs.

        It really doesn't surprise me that a 1975 Ford truck
        engine isn't any less efficient than the 2008 model.

    • by Spoke (6112)

      Exactly.

      Let me compare some of the various cars I've owned:

      Car #1: 1981 Toyota Celica - A 2+2 hatchback, 2.4l I4 engine and about 100hp. Curb weight around 2500lbs. Fuel economy in the 22-25mpg range.
      Car #2: 1996 Toyota Camry - 4 door sedan, 2.2l I4 engine and about 130hp. Curb weight around 3000lbs. Fuel economy in the 25-27mpg range.
      Car #3: 2003 Subaru Impreza WRX - 4 door wagon, 2.0l I4 turbo charged engine and about 230hp. Curb weight around 3000lbs. Fuel economy in the 25mpg range.
      Car #4: 2008 Toyota P

    • by Biff Stu (654099) on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @03:06PM (#25043239)

      What I want to know is how much fuel does it take to travel from San Francisco to New York City by the following methods:
      A modern plane
      A Prius
      A generic 6 cylinder sedan
      An Escalade
      Amtrak

      Of course, the extra 4 days on the road really make me favor the plane, but I want to know how guilty I should feel.

    • by Just Some Guy (3352) <kirk+slashdot@strauser.com> on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @03:14PM (#25043355) Homepage Journal

      My current car is a Crysler Concorde with a fuel injected 28 valve V-6 engine.

      Which four cylinders get an extra valve?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by vastabo (530415)

      Can you really have a 28 valve engine? Wouldn't it be 6 cylinders * (2 intake valves + 2 exhaust valves) = 24 valves.

      Just askin'...

    • I daresay a new full sized Ford pickup truck gets better mileage than a 1975 full sized Ford of the same model.
      You'd be wrong. And not because of your transparent defence of SUVs but because the gains they have made are in single digits, if they have made any at all. SUVs are the worst thing to ever hit the roadways, environmentally and politically.
    • Re:charlatans (Score:5, Insightful)

      by BitZtream (692029) on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @03:40PM (#25043771)

      You're pretty lucky, according to Chrylers page, the 2009 Seabring gets 30mpg highway, the Crossfire gets 25mpg highway, the 300 gets 26mpg highway, and that assumes it switchs from running on 8 cylinders down to 4 for efficiecy. There doesn't appear to be a Concorde this model year so I couldn't get a number for it from the Chrysler directly, but if you go look at some other site such as Motortrend or the like, I think its highly likely that your numbers will be shown to be absolute bullshit. According to Chrysler, thier most efficient vehical, the Seabring Sedan, with the smallest engine available (173hp) gets 30, the rest are worse, some into the teens.

      According to a review http://www.motortrend.com/roadtests/112_9803_chrysler_concorde_lxi_vs_pontiac_bonneville_se/data_cont.html [motortrend.com] the 2003 low end model gets 19 in the city, 28 on the highway ...

      Its pretty cool that your car gets better milage than any of their current production models get.

      Next time I suggest not using an inaccurate method of measurement (the cars computer) and base your information on what you actually used between fill ups and the milage you've driven. I'd also recommend not using the 100 miles you drove down out of the Rocky Mountains as your example.

      Even more humorous considering that most cars don't ever actually achieve the sticker value for MPG under normal driving conditions, and rarely do so with the added consistency of cruise control.

      While House is right, and most people are stupid, most Slashdotters are not that stupid.

      Btw, your a horrible puppet for Chrysler, if your going to bullshit, at least get the numbers close enough they are believable.

      For reference, my 2008 solstice told me it was averaging over a 100mpg for a 25 mile trip, with the airconditioner running ... I was driving down out of the mountains of North Carolina and never had my foot on the gas, great milage! My bullshit beats your bullshit.

      kthnx

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by whoever57 (658626)
      So, you are comparing your experience with overall running MPG (I assume tank-full to tank-full) against running 100 miles along a freeway at 55mph? Yeah, let's compare apples to oranges -- that will give useful figures.

      Instead, why not look at the CAFE requirements, which have shown rather more modest improvements?

      Car engines have made huge improvements in efficiency, but much of those gains have been lost by increasing the overall weight of cars. Compare a modern Mini to the weight of the original --
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by LurkerXXX (667952)

      Sorry, but I had a 76 chevy Vega. They were crap. I loved it, but it was a piece of crap.

      If you want to look at gas mileage over time, I suggest looking at the Honda Accord, which by happenstance came out in 76 in the U.S., although I could only quickly google up the '78 stats.

      http://www.mpgomatic.com/2007/10/16/honda-accord-gas-mileage-1978-2007/ [mpgomatic.com]

      For those not wanting to follow the link:

      Gas mileage in 1976: 24 City, 30 Highway
      Gas mileage in 2008: 21 City, 30 Highway

  • by aoteoroa (596031) on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @02:42PM (#25042899)

    2 out of 4 people you meet on the street are likely to have below average intelligence.

    • Re:the truth is (Score:5, Insightful)

      by gnick (1211984) on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @02:49PM (#25042993) Homepage

      I've found that statement to be strongly dependent on the streets you frequent.

    • by fifirebel (137361)

      2 out of 4 people you meet on the street are likely to have below average intelligence.

      Bzzzzzt - WRONG!
      2 out of 4 people you meet on the street are likely to have below median intelligence.

      Which cohort you belong to is left as an exercise for the reader...

      • We're getting off on a tangent of a tangent here, but I was always taught that mean, median, and mode were all a kind of "average". If that's true, then using "average" isn't wrong, but rather just lacking specificity.
        • by gd2shoe (747932)

          I don't know about mode, but I have heard college math teachers say that about mean and median.

          (An average being a measure of the middle of a data set, or a representative value of them all, I wouldn't expect to use mode unless it was so prominent as to nearly be the median anyways. IANAMG)

        • by emmons (94632)

          Webster seems to think that 'average' is synonymous with 'mean'.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by foobsr (693224)
        Consensus (among psychologists) is that IQ scores are following a normal distribution, thus mean and median are the same.

        CC.
    • by Ethanol-fueled (1125189) * on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @02:51PM (#25043013) Homepage Journal
      2 out of 4 so thats, what, 2 percent? That's not bad at all!
      • 2 out of 4 people you meet on the street are likely to have below average intelligence.

        2 out of 4 so thats, what, 2 percent? That's not bad at all!

        It was great to meet you!

      • by ahoehn (301327)

        You idiot! When converting from numbers to percentages, you have to move the decimal point.

        So obviously 2 out of 4 becomes 20%.

    • by elrous0 (869638) *
      I hear that it may be as high as 49%!
      • by PCM2 (4486)

        Even higher. As it turns out, the limit of 4/x as x approaches 2 is 50%.

    • Re:the truth is (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Normal Dan (1053064) on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @02:55PM (#25043069)
      This is not always so. Imagine a population of only 4 people. The first 3 have an "IQ" of 1, and the 4th has an IQ of 97. This makes the average intelligence around 25, and 3 out of 4 people have below average intelligence.

      But anyway, here's some startling statistics for you: 3 out of 4 people make up 75% of our population.
      • "Average" can be mean, median, or mode. You are correct using the mean; the GP is correct using the median. For a continuous variable in a population, e.g. "average intelligence", the median is the most sensible interpretation. If you're told that you are in the top 1% on an intelligence test it means that no more than 1% of the population scored above you, not that your score was in the upper 1% of the range.

      • by gd2shoe (747932)

        Hold it a moment. IQ is determined by the normal distribution (bell curve) of people taking intelligence tests. The mean is defined as being an IQ of 100, with a standard deviation of 15 (If I remember correctly). If the whole population was weighed like that (and not a sample) then your numbers simply don't work.

        I've found that statement to be strongly dependent on the streets you frequent.

        I think this is the point you were trying to make. Someone beat you to it.

        3 out of 4 people make up 75% of our population.

        Yeah... so that means... (in this context, reread his post. You might get the joke.)

      • psst... IQs are scaled so the average is always 100.
    • by superdave80 (1226592) on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @02:56PM (#25043095)
      It's more like 3 out of 6, if you ask me.
  • by LWATCDR (28044) on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @02:46PM (#25042933) Homepage Journal

    Fuel is heavy. Every pound of fuel you burn is one less you can carry and charge for.
    Of course it kind of goes south when you talk about people that take an airliner designed for 300 people and use it as a private jet.

    • Stop talking about our president like that.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by LWATCDR (28044)

        Actually the president usually hauls well several dozen people on Air Force One.
        I was thinking of John Travolta, and the Google guys.

  • by elrous0 (869638) * on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @02:51PM (#25043009)
    I've never heard any accusations that the aeronautical industry was building particularly inefficient planes. Why would they? The only reason the automotive industry did it was because consumers love big cars (perceiving them as safer and wanting to show off). But unlike with SUV's, no one uses the size of the airplane they flew in on to compensate for their small dick (with the exception of Richard Branson, of course). So why WOULDN'T airlines want more efficient aircraft?
    • by vrmlguy (120854)

      But unlike with SUV's, no one uses the size of the airplane they flew in on to compensate for their small dick (with the exception of Richard Branson, of course).

      You forgot about John Travolta [wikipedia.org].

  • What a nice article that says "university president's" instead of "university presidents".

    I guess while putting down the rest of America for being easily led by the nose, the author forgot to read about how to use simple punctuation.

    While we're on it, perhaps Barnum was right, but perhaps he was more right in the second less-well-known part of his statement.

    "There's a sucker born every minute -- and two to take him." -- P.T. Barnum.

    Google 101 is over. The rest is left as an exercise for the reader

  • great (Score:5, Interesting)

    by nomadic (141991) <nomadicworld@@@gmail...com> on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @02:54PM (#25043061) Homepage
    I'm always fascinated by how IT people frequently consider themselves experts on everything under the sun. Whoever this Rothke is, he's no aeronautical engineer, and as far as I can tell his snide remarks at the beginning of the review are based on his reading of an admittedly pro-aviation industry book.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      I'm always fascinated by how IT people frequently consider themselves experts on everything under the sun.

      Well, the thing is that geeks/hackers tend to be more well-read than most of the rest of the world. There are many 'IT people' who are more well-read than most liberal arts majors.

      No one can be an expert about everything, but it is possible to know at least a little about a lot. Aerospace engineering is not unlike hacking -- engineers often have the right mindset to do software development (though the reverse isn't always true).

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by nomadic (141991)
        No one can be an expert about everything, but it is possible to know at least a little about a lot. Aerospace engineering is not unlike hacking -- engineers often have the right mindset to do software development (though the reverse isn't always true).

        If you're working outside your field, you should approach it with some humility. The way he phrases things in the article indicate he has some agenda where the assertion--that maybe airplanes haven't increased in efficiency that much--provokes an emotional
  • by MarkusQ (450076) on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @02:54PM (#25043065) Journal

    While it is too broad to call the authors of Fuel efficiency of commercial aircraft: An overview of historical and future trends liars; their mediocre research created the scenario that far too many took their research as reality. Known as the Peeters report, after lead author P.M. Peeters, the authors of Plane Simple Truth refute the wide-spread belief that the fuel efficiency gains in the commercial aviation sector are erroneous, which is the principle theme of the Peeters report."

    Pop quiz: who is calling who a liar in this paragraph? For that matter, how many parties are being discussed here, and what are their positions on fuel efficiency?

    --MarkusQ

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Word. I read that paragraph twice before I gave up. What an unreadable twisted pile of trash.

    • by jfruhlinger (470035) on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @03:22PM (#25043461) Homepage

      Seriously. This is one of the most convoluted setences I've ever seen. I know that Slashdot "editors" aren't really editors in the generally accepted sense of the term, but -- really? Did you look at that sentence and think, "Hey, that's something that should go on the front page and that people will read and easily understand!"

      (Full disclosure: I am an editor, without quotation marks.)

    • Plane Simple Truth is a fascinating book that exposes the myriad errors of the flawed environmental studies.

      It's not enough to point out the flaws in a study, there are flaws in every single study ever.

      So there were a lot of flaws in the environmental studies. I have no background in environmental studies. Show me a graph in an environmental study, tell me it's wrong, show me the real graph. I'll be able to tell you they may have gotten that graph wrong, but even if the report was well written and was quoted in full in the book, I'd have no idea as to the impact that would have on anything. If the book is wri

    • by spiffyman (949476)

      Here's another one: Can anyone find any reference to the "Peeters report" besides in the submitter's review?

      As far as the review's writing itself, I was worried I wasn't the only one. Jesus Christ. Surprising, given that Rothke's written pretty extensively.

      I'd complain that we need better editors around here, but ... ah, fuck it.

  • you mean like the iq test is a bell curve? and half are below 100 and half are above?

    this is a travesty, how are we ever going to make sure that everyone is above 100?

    pfffffffffft

    stupid people exist. deal with it. nothing you will ever do will change that

    if you can't make peace with that fact, you cast some doubt on your supposed intelligence

  • by hcdejong (561314) <`ln.tensmx' `ta' `sebboh'> on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @03:04PM (#25043209)

    Starting your review with a convoluted first paragraph chock-full of double negatives and irrelevant references is a Bad Idea. I had to read it three times before I figured out which book was being reviewed and what the reviewer thought of it.

    The review also takes whatever this book says as gospel. How do we know that this book is any more correct than the studies it tries to debunk?

  • House says (Score:4, Insightful)

    by eebra82 (907996) on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @03:06PM (#25043237) Homepage

    In the TV show House, M.D., a premise that protagonist Dr. Greg House holds dear is that people are liars and stupid. Real life is often not far from House's observation.

    I would say that only a person smarter than average could make such observation. The rest would simply not care or be capable of thinking to such depth. In House's case, this is exactly it, because he seems to have an outstandingly high IQ. Amusingly, House says that we all lie, but he is the only exception. And he certainly doesn't think he's stupid.

    Having said that, I've been working in the "med biz" for five years and I share House's philosophy. People always distort facts for one reason or another, and ultimately, that makes them look dumb.

    • Re:House says (Score:4, Interesting)

      by jfengel (409917) on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @03:21PM (#25043447) Homepage Journal

      > Amusingly, House says that we all lie, but he is the only exception.

      He says everybody lies, and he doesn't exempt himself. He lies like crazy, to get his way. He'd say he'd be stupid not to, since it does help him get what he thinks is right.

      He just thinks that lying to your DOCTOR is stupid, since that gets you dead, which is usually not what you want.

  • Disregarding the carbon footprint/relative mileage issue, I've often thought that spraying unburnt kerosene into the upper atmosphere was a dodgy experiment.

  • I believe it. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by LibertineR (591918) on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @03:10PM (#25043285)
    When my neighbor complained last weekend, that my smoking baby-back ribs in my smoker for 6 hours was responsible for ice melting in the Arctic, I realized that there are no limits on stupid.

    The same will be true for any Slashdotter who wants to explain to me in scientific terms why my neighbor was 'technically' correct.

    Let me help: The wood? Hickory and Cherry. The temperature? 240deg. Time: 6hours.

    So tell me; how many polar bears did I kill?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Overzeetop (214511)

      The answer would likely be close to zero. Of course, that's mostly because you have all the effect of a drop of water in a hurricane. The hurricane still does damage, though.

      But I digress...if you used charcoal you make yourself without the use of fossil fuels, you're likely to be net zero for carbon emissions. All the carbon you use was probably pulled out of the air in the last 20-40 years by the tree you are burning, and the stuff you'll burn tomorrow comes out the trees growing today.

      As for baby back ri

    • by jedidiah (1196)

      Except your neighbor wasn't "technically correct".

      He's being remarkably simpleminded about the whole thing.

      You need to cook something somewhere. If you don't do
      it outside then you will need to do it indoors and that
      will impact your whole house. Ultimately, you may need
      to spend a lot more energy cooling your house back down
      just so this guy can have a warm fuzzy about smoke
      emissions.

      An outdoor cooking arrangement means that you don't
      have to fire up a very energy hungry home cooling
      system.

      You probably saved a

    • by JoshDM (741866)

      I dunno, but you had a Cherry tree and a Hickory tree chopped down, and a pig slaughtered in order to have that meal, in addition to the gas for the trucks to move said materials from source to rendering and from rendering to the store, not counting whatever means you took to get them to your smoker (bicycle || walking > automobile), as well as the costs in supplying the lighting materials (did you strike together two flint rocks to make that flame), among many other things I'm not counting.

      You = +1 ; Po

  • Turbopropellers (Score:3, Informative)

    by Cochonou (576531) on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @03:10PM (#25043295) Homepage
    From the review, there seems to be a lot of talk in the book about jet engines (turbofans). But is the subject of propellers and turbopropellers brought upon ? They are usually considered to be the most efficient for speeds around mach 0.6.
    • by conureman (748753)

      I always wanted one of those Lear Turbofans. Better passenger/mileage than any car I've owned.

  • You mention the Cadillac Escalade as if fuel efficiency were the primary design criteria for that vehicle. Why should anyone read any further after that?

  • Good heavens (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bperkins (12056) on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @03:12PM (#25043325) Homepage Journal

    The signal to noise ratio in this story is astoundingly low.

    How about:

    Here's a review of "The Plane and Simple Truth."

    It's a book about efficiency gains in airliners over the last 70 years.
    I liked it.
    It had lots of good information.
    It also debunked many fallacies put forth by those who think the airline industry is bad for the environment.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      The funny part is that this summary of the book does a piss poor job of debunking the paper.

      In fact, I read the paper and it makes a lot of sense. It makes no claims about turbines decreasing in efficiency, merely that turbines are less efficient than piston engines... which is absolutely true.

      However, they're more reliable, require less maintinance and are easier to fit to airplane designs.

      What exactly in this paper requires debunking?

      I think the OP is a shill for someone, or just totally taken by some B

  • "The Peeters report flies in the face of reality, in which gains in jet engine efficiency over the last 40 years have been astounding. Contrast those gains with the popular Cadillac Escalade and similar SUV's whose mileage per gallon is often measured in single digits, and whose efficiencies have gone in the opposite direction. "

    Where can I get myself fuel efficiency information on a 1968 Cadillac Escalade?

    Aircraft have one advantage only: speed. The simple physics of the matter is that an engine used to

  • Report is wrong... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Richard_at_work (517087) <richardpriceNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @03:16PM (#25043375)
    For a start, they seem to hinge their conclusions on per-seat-kilometer values, and then seem surprised at the outcome - per-seat-kilometer values miss significant aspects of the subject at hand:

    1. Cargo - planes carry significant amounts of cargo today, on the piston engined aircraft of yesteryear it was pretty much 'passengers OR cargo, but not at the same time'. Thus the plane today is doing work that your plane of yesterday would be excluded from because you aren't getting a per-seat-kilometer value for it (no seats).

    2. Range - planes today carry out some serious routes, with the top end of the scale actually topping out at between 8,000miles on a regular basis (there are longer routes, but they are less common). You won't be getting that in piston engined aircraft.

    3. Reliability - jet engines are much more reliable than the piston engines of yesteryear, which is why we now have ETOPS (extended-range twin-engine operational performance standard) hitting 207 minutes. Thats three hours and twenty seven minutes distance from an airfield on one single engine. Try that in a piston engine aircraft of yesteryear.

    4. Reliability - yes, its worth mentioning again. Jet engine aircraft can run sectors with minimal turn around, with minimal maintenance between sectors and with minimal top-ups of required fluids. Piston engined aircraft required a lot more in the way of coaxing and looking after on the ground between sectors. More time in maintenance means less time making money.

    5. Longevity - there haven't been many piston engine aircraft that were built for two or three decades in passenger service (the DC-3 comes to mind, but not many others). Most piston engine passenger aircraft of the pre-war and immediate post-war period were designed to last only a few thousand hours, or a couple of years in passenger service.

    Oh, and yes, I'm related to the aviation industry :)
    • by Guysmiley777 (880063) on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @03:41PM (#25043801)
      To add to the reliability part (even more), airlines liked turbines for many reasons, none of which were cited in that retarded study. Faster was not the attraction, smooth operation was.

      A piston engine is constantly trying to shake itself apart, a turbine engine doesn't do that. In addition to the mechanical wear issues, the vibration was unpleasant and also contributed to reduced airframe life.

      With piston powered airliners it wasn't uncommon to have engine fires and other catastrophic failures. But hey, no biggie right? Still have 3 good engines! With today's turbofans it is just about unheard of.

      Commercial FADEC jet engines can be treated essentially like lightbulbs, turn them on and go.
  • by sirwired (27582) on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @03:26PM (#25043525)

    Fuel economy (MPG) on a modern land-yacht SUV is indeed atrocious.

    However, fuel efficiency on a modern vehicle is simply astounding. A modern engine can extract far more motive power out of a given amount of fuel than an engine even ten years old.

    The problem, as far as total consumption goes, is what the automakers have chosen to do with those efficiency gains. Instead of increasing fuel economy, they have chosen to increase the power of the engine, and put those engines in ever-heavier vehicles. This means that fuel economy has remained relatively static, even as efficiency has made huge strides.

    SirWired

  • Damn, book reviews in Slashdot are getting completely incomprehensible.

    Hint: a review isn't a summary.

  • I don't believe the airline industry is as bad as the tobacco industry (the existence of this book notwithstanding). But that still doesn't mean that airline travel is something that we are going to have to analyze as the price of fossil fuels go up and the environment becomes less stable. NASA might build the most environmentally conscious rockets possible, but as long as they use fossil fuels they'll probably be harmful to the environment.

    Whether you view the world through the prism of "we are running out

  • 1. There were studies on the airline industry
    2. Those studies weren't perfect
    3. Everyone is stupid and lies

  • by Idaho (12907) on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @03:53PM (#25044013)

    The Peeters report flies in the face of reality, in which gains in jet engine efficiency over the last 40 years have been astounding.

    Excuse me, but I just actually read that report (...on slashdot!? I must be new here), and it nowhere states that jet engine efficiency *hasn't* improved tremendously over the past 40 years. On the contrary, it shows clear diagrams that shows they *have* improved a lot.

    However, it states, probably correctly, that compared to the last-generation *piston* aircraft engines which where built around 1955 or so, first-generation Jet engines used twice as much fuel (per passenger or kg moved per kilometer) compared to those. However, that amount of fuel since halved so they are now about on par with 1955 piston technology. Doesn't look like a lie to me. Of course, modern jet engines can fly a lot faster than those with piston engines.

    In addition, it states that the amount of reduction will level off when the technology has matured. This happened for piston engines, and I don't see why it wouldn't for jet engines; most things to improve their efficiency by a lot have already been invented by now. This explains why they use much less fuel than 40 years ago, but doesn't guarantee in any way that they can get a lot more efficient still.

    Of course, I like taking a plane to the Hawaiian beaches as much as the next guy, but I don't see why we need to post this kind of bullshit stories just so we can fool ourselves into thinking that planes do not use a lot of fuel.

  • by Phanatic1a (413374) on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @05:12PM (#25045205)

    Known as the Peeters report, after lead author P.M. Peeters, the authors of Plane Simple Truth...

    It took me three tries to figure out what this sentence was saying. The authors of Plane Simple Truth are known as the Peeters report?

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