Updated: Feb 7, 2022
Next meeting: Jan 31st: 8:00pm, Zoom:
Question of the Week:
1) Is Virgin Hyperloop Dying?
2) What will the airport of 2050 look like?
Meeting on Wednesdays instead
E-Bash and Engineering Expo
Airport 2050: Why is air and ground separate?
The Fresno Bee
CBS News - Face The Nation
Virgin Hyperloop Press Release
There has been no change since the last issue. The Build Back Better plan continues to be negotiated, but a vote in Congress is not currently scheduled
The Airport of 2050:
Part 1, What really is an airport
This whole semester, the group will be studying the airport of the future, and what role high speed ground transportation will play. This is the first of a ten week project looking at all aspects of the airport from airline profitability, to sustainability, to national defense. So check back every week!
What is the purpose of an airport? Not talking about the basics of being a place to land airplanes, but more importantly what does an airport mean to its local community?
The airport could be seen is a portal for a city. It is about access. In reality the airport gives a city links to other cities so trade can occur, business can take place with other areas, and visitors to that city can arrive. An airport is literally the connecting point for a city, and this is why you see news being made when an airline starts new (or discontinues) service at a small city airport such as Wausau, WI or Rockford, IL.
So is an airport really about airplanes? Well that’s where it started and the reason for the runways. However an airport is really about bringing people and goods together. After all, after disembarking a flight at any major city a passenger will soon find out that the airport is the hub of ALL TRANSPORT, not just about airplanes as those passengers are bombarded with signs and ads for multiple ways to their final destination.
However there is a distinct division at the airport. For example when arriving at O’Hare airport you on the “air-side” in terminal 1 where United Airlines pretty much controls everything. But pass through security and into "land-side" and you are bombarded with transportation options from regional buses, to local trains, to Uber & Lyft, to car rentals, to shuttle buses to local hotels, to locals trying to figure out where their family and friends might be waiting. An airport is not just about airplanes.
But even regional flights are treated differently on the "air-side". At O'Hare you may arrive from Los Angeles on Concourse C, but to find your flight to South Bend, IN; you need to find gate F9 or B24 (nicknamed "The Banana", but that is a different story). Essentially those regional flight gates have all been turned into mini terminals. After all, this can also be seen at Denver's A & B concourses (gates A54 -A57), or Washington Dulles (Main terminal gates & A gates). The mini-regional concourse is here to stay!
So why couldn't a new mini terminal within a terminal be built...but instead of regional flights it would be high speed trains? If you doubt that thought possibility these mini hubs already exist, just look at the inter concourse train lobbies at the center the concourse at Denver, or Dulles in concourse C. Rail stations are already part of the "air-side" of the airport. We just have to help it evolve into something bigger than a tram station. Could it be a hyperloop instead, or maybe a magnetically levitating train that travels at 300 mph? Or maybe even a traditional high speed train as seen in European or Asian airports (and perhaps someday here in America).
But you may say that this division at the airport is because of security. Airline passenger need to be handled different than other forms of transportation. However, what if the security issued was figured out. After all we have 18 years to do it and it only needs to be half of the passengers (since no security is needed for going plane to train). Perhaps a passenger be screened before boarding the train, or maybe even while on the train? If we figure this out then we would likely see high speed trains, hyper loops or maglevs on the air-side in the corporate colors of United, Delta, American, or perhaps even Southwest....and air-side will mean something very different in 2050 than it does today.
Stay tuned in as the group discusses more about why integrating high speed ground transportation into the air-side of the airport just makes sense.
The Burlington Zephyr
By Mike Schlicting
Chicago's Museum of Science & Industry is world famous. No where else in the world will you see a captured WWII German submarine, or a Boeing 727 hanging from the ceiling like some small model (how that plane go there is another story all together). Even the building itself is historic as it is one of the last remnants of the 1893 Colombian Exposition, which was Chicago's coming out party to the world over 130 years ago.
However, before you past the turnstiles to see the giant Tesla Coil, experience a Tornado, or walk through a human heart....you will pass one of the greatest artifacts in high speed transportation....The Pioneer Zephyr.
In 2020, the train doesn't really speak high tech, but this train was the 1930's version of the hyperloop. The Zephyr was the very first diesel powered train in the world and with its stainless steel, aerodynamic design the train not only changed transportation but also brought about the whole art deco movement (which meant that even your Toaster could be aerodynamic...and the hyplerloop pod would fit right into this design movement).
The first route of the Pioneer Zephyr was Chicago to Denver, when it completed the route in 13 hrs, 5 minutes and at speeds up to 112 mph IN 1934! Compare that to Amtrak's current schedule of the California Zephyr at 18 hours 15 minutes, or the 14 hrs, 20 minutes Google maps shows driving today. At the time it was the worlds "bullet train".
By the 1940's Zephyr's roamed throughout the western United States, from Chicago to San Fransisco, and from Minneapolis to Dallas. It could be said that these Zephyr's were America's version of the Shinkansen or TGV lines in France. They spread everyone and influenced everyday life of those along the system.
Sadly by 1960s, passenger rail in the US was dying. So the Zephyrs were retired with the very first Zephyr (The Pioneer Zephyr) being donated to the Museum of Science & Industry where it sits in a newly opened display