Proposal: Aviation and Aerospace

When a proposal reaches 45% commitment, the Community Team at Stack Exchange does a final evaluation in preparation for the final launch.

The name "Aviation and Aerospace" is somewhat problematic. I'm somewhat familiar with the work of aerospace companies like Northrop Grumman, Boeing, Rockwell Collins, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, etc… but looking at the example questions, this proposal doesn't seem compatible with those engineering interests. It would be very unusual to create a site for (drawing an analogy) "Driving enthusiasts, bus drivers, auto assembly workers, and automotive engineers". They're simply different audiences.

What you have here is an "Aviation" site. It seems to comprise almost entirely of "end user" questions. Before I adjusted the title and description (commonly done in preparation for launch), I wanted to discuss it here.

If you want to vehemently argue for this disconnected scope, we still have to address the naming issue. We're trying to steer away from these "This & That" titles wherever possible. As I discussed above, it typically indicates a scoping problem with the proposal and the site itself.

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Note that unlike other industries "Aviation and Aerospace" is a rather common name for these sorts of sites, which could be a factor in the name. – Qantas 94 Heavy Aug 26 '13 at 0:32

I am a professional pilot, and am looking forward to this site because of the relatively wide scope of it. I happened upon the proposal relatively late, and asked a few questions to try to steer it in a different, more technical direction (mainly questions governing regulations), but we were already too far along in the process for my questions to gain any traction. People at that point were only voting up the questions that were already close to 10 votes, in order to move to the next stage.

I want a site that I can go to in order to ask almost any aviation related question that I may have. Pilots as a whole are a more technical group, and we are often looking for the "definitive correct answer". These questions can often be best answered by the maintenance or engineering types that will be drawn to the aerospace side of the site. If we limit the scope to only "end user" type questions, then I believe that you will be sorely lacking on the real experts that will add the most value to a site like this.

Aviation and Aerospace are very closely related. In fact, aviation is a subset of aerospace. Consider the definition:

aer·o·space [air-oh-speys]
noun
1. the atmosphere and the space beyond considered as a whole.
2. the industry concerned with the design and manufacture of aircraft, rockets, missiles, spacecraft, etc., that operate in aerospace.

adjective
3. of or pertaining to aerospace or the aerospace industry.

I believe that a "correct" solution would be to simply rename the site Aerospace and get rid of the word Aviation, since it would be included anyway. Unfortunately, the general public generally views the two realms as different (even though all of the airplane manufacturers are indeed aerospace companies) so including the word Aviation in the site name would help people understand that they are in the right place with their airplane/aviation type questions.

As far as the Boeing/Airbus/etc guys, we should welcome them and encourage them to participate in the site! They can bring a ton of guidance and information for us "end users" and also have a place that they can ask the more technical questions and get help from their peers. As a pilot, I would love to be able to ask the engineers the merits of a particular design or why something is the way that it is (in fact, I do sometimes call the factory representative in order to get an answer from just these people). Very often, the engineers themselves will have an answer like "I would have liked to do it differently, but either the FAA would not approve it, or it would have been cost prohibitive to go through the certification process".

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Maybe our definitions of "more technical direction" differ, but in reality the scope of the site is set during private beta, so I hope to see you in there hashing this out. I actually agree that "questions governing regulations" would be dead-on-target for a what I see as this end-user site -- much more so than, say, discussing the use of new composite materials, original equipment manufacturers, and industrial military applications... which I consider more the purview of a hypothetical "Aerospace Industry" site rather than what we have here. See you in the private beta! – Robert Cartaino Aug 24 '13 at 0:49
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@RobertCartaino the aerospace industry is a highly regulated business. It is unlikely that a composite material scientist would come to an aerospace site to ask questions about materials. He would come to an aerospace site to ask questions about regulations. Regulations that "end users" probably have little, if any knowledge about. Actually, quite a number of example questions have answers that are probably better explained by someone from one of the companies you mentioned than by an end user. – DeltaLima Aug 24 '13 at 8:08
    
@RobertCartaino: I will definitely be here, and see myself being more active than I am on SO. However, I get what you are saying about hard core design questions. I would think that most of those questions would go to the engineering sites rather than here anyway, but the same people will have questions about the certification process/requirements and regulations as well that could fit in nicely. Aerospace involves a lot more than just "aerospace design" (see the definition above) and I think that we should welcome questions about more than just aviation. I have updated the end of my answer. – lnafziger Aug 24 '13 at 13:29
    
@RobertCartaino: Oh, and by "more technical" I meant things that we have to know like basic aerodynamics, meteorology, physiology, regulations, and as you progress into more advanced airplanes you need to know systems (hydraulic, pneumatic, electrical, and mechanical systems), with their components and how they work. Some of this gets fairly involved even without getting into metallurgic type issues.... – lnafziger Aug 26 '13 at 2:01
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Anybody involved with aviation will see the "Aviation and Aerospace" title and assume it means end users, NOT engineering. If it were to be oriented toward the engineering side, it would be titled something like "Aeronautical Engineering" or "Aerospace Industry". I think the current title is fine, and really can't think of a better one. I've been in aviation for 16 years, professionally for 10. – Ralgha Aug 26 '13 at 21:41
    
I'm not entirely opposed to just going with Aerospace, giving the benefit of the doubt that example questions are often not nearly representative of what actually happens in a private beta - but I am having a very difficult time coming up with a revised topic description to accompany it based on the example questions that we have. I'd like some ideas, if you have them :) – Tim Post Aug 28 '13 at 7:23
    
I think when we talk about wide scope, we should ask whether we want questions like "what are the appropriate boundary conditions for solving fluid flow equations over a wing?". – DJClayworth Sep 3 '13 at 14:35
    
@DJClayworth: That question is an engineering question, and I agree that it would not be on topic here. However, those same engineers have to deal with a lot of other types of questions (particularly regulatory) that would be on topic. And having them here can help a lot with other questions that are not quite as technical, but they can approach from a different angle! – lnafziger Sep 3 '13 at 15:27
    
Yes, engineers sometimes need to know answers to non-engineering questions. But that doesn't mean we should make engineering part of the space. Calling the site "Aviation" doesn't mean engineers are excluded, when they want to ask non-engineering questions. – DJClayworth Sep 3 '13 at 15:36
    
@lnafziger: so should questions such as (say): "Why does FAR 25 require a factor of safety of 1.5 times the limit load?" be allowed on this site, or would that be off-topic? – Qantas 94 Heavy Sep 6 '13 at 10:59
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@Qantas94Heavy: Good question. Even as a pilot, I sometimes have questions like that about the certification process. I would like to be able to ask that (and similar) here! Knowing some of the background behind the design decisions can only help understand the overall airplane better. – lnafziger Sep 6 '13 at 17:02
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+1 From an engineer at one of the aforementioned big aerospace companies, but at the same time I don't see any reason to name the site anything other than "Aviation". I actually didn't even notice the proposal until it had this name. – called2voyage Dec 9 '13 at 21:16
    
I honestly don't see a problem with the site's current name. Even people (like myself) who don't work in the industry, immediately know what the site's about just by seeing the word "Aviation". – user95569 Dec 10 '13 at 14:49
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@Giovani: Well, when this discussion started, the name was "Aviation & Aerospace" and it seems that the community is trying to limit the scope of this proposal by taking the "& Aerospace" portion off. So now, we are limited to aviation, which is a subset of aerospace.... – lnafziger Dec 11 '13 at 4:39
    
@Inafziger, fair enough :) – user95569 Dec 11 '13 at 7:54

I think this question has hit the nail on the head. The original proposal was aimed at people who fly planes (pilots), those who do the necessary work to make them fly (ATC,mechanics etc) and those interested in flying (wannabe pilots?). I believe those people form a distinct community with significant overlap (lots of pilots also do maintenence, or need to know about it - both pilots and ATC professionals will be able to answer some of then same questions about ATC procedures). (By the way, by 'planes' I also mean helicopters, balloons, airships etc.)

There is also a community of people who design planes, do fluid flow calculations, write fly-by-wire software, and analyse metal fatigue stresses for aerospace purposes. That community, valid as it is, does NOT have a big overlap with the pilot community. Most pilots don't care what the solution to the fluid flow equations is, or what the correct procedures for testing fly-by-wire software are. Likewise lots of engineers don't care what the right procedure for flying an instrument approach is. I completely agree that trying to cram these two together will cause problems.

The second of these communities should probably be called "Aeronautical Engineering" and possibly combined with other engineering sites. The fact that there was a question that considered merging this community with "Mechanical Engineering" shows how bad this had got. Most pilots would feel completely out of place on a site related to mechanical engineering.

In short, my proposal is that this site should be called "Aviation".

We should also pursue an "Aeronautical Engineering" site.

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One of the reasons for the confusion is that the proposal is tagged as Science. That does not fit the audience you describe. If the site is limited to pilots, mechanics and controllers it should have been tagged as Professional. – DeltaLima Sep 8 '13 at 11:00
    
A good point. I'm not sure what else it should be tagged as. Aviation could be either professional or amateur, isn't obviously technology, but doesn't seem to fit any of the others. But 'science' is probably wrong. – DJClayworth Sep 9 '13 at 3:24
    
I think professional would be the best of the available tags. And then in the description it should be added that amateur pilots are just as welcome. – DeltaLima Sep 9 '13 at 9:08
    
I think many engineers are interested in what the right procedure for flying an instrument approach is. Engineering is not only about technology. Wikipedia defines engineering as the application of scientific, economic, social and practical knowledge in order to design, build and maintain structures, machines, devices, systems, materials and processes. Many engineering questions I have are related to the operational side of aviation. That extra knowledge about flying instrument approaches helps me to design future systems/procedures that are compatible with current practices. – DeltaLima Sep 9 '13 at 9:22
    
I fully agree that this site should not be the place to discuss fluid flow calculations or composite material properties, nor how fly-by-wire systems should be tested. But the working of fly-by-wire systems and the pro's and cons of FBW design decisions from both operational and engineering perspective would perfectly fit here. It is that overlap between the two domains that would give and enormous benefit to both communities and would raise this site to higher levels. – DeltaLima Sep 9 '13 at 9:28
    
I sympathize with this, and it's good that FBW designers should follow the Aviation site. But it doesn't mean the sites should be merged. If you are writing a Photography mobile app, you would need to know about photography. But that doesn't mean Photography questions should be on-topic at StackOverflow - or that app-writing questions should be on-topic at Photography. – DJClayworth Sep 9 '13 at 15:00
    
Following your suggestion I have created an Aeronautical Engineering site. – DeltaLima Sep 11 '13 at 16:31

Aviation and Aerospace is not a bad name for this Q&A site. But if "and" is not allowed, I guess either Aviation or Aerospace could work.

More important is the discussion about the audience.

To me, aviation is everything involved with the act of flying. That would suggest an audience of primarily pilots, or "end users" as you call it. Maybe air traffic controllers, ramp handlers and maintenance people would also feel comfortable under "aviation".

Aerospace on the other hand would cover the area's of design, production, standardization, legislation etcetera related to aviation (and space systems).

The value of combining the two is cross pollination.

I frequent a number of aviation forums and the quality of answers that I see is often appalling, misleading and sometimes dangerous. This is especially the case for question related to the working of systems and the reason behind certain design choices. Questions that are much better answered by those who designed the systems than by those who operate them.

On the other hand, when working in multidisciplinary design or standardisation teams I am sometimes surprised by the lack of understanding of basic principles of flight, commercial operations and procedures by some of those who are developing the next generation of aircraft or air traffic control systems.

Of course that is quite understandable; there are few people who understand all aspects of aviation and aerospace.

The comparison to

Driving enthusiasts, bus drivers, auto assembly workers, and automotive engineers

is therefore a bit off, in the sense that all assembly workers and automotive engineers have their drivers license and operate cars on a daily basis. And rarely will a bus driver find himself driving while troubleshooting essential systems.

An electronics engineer in an aerospace company would go to electronics.stackexchange.com for her technical questions, but when she needs to understand the system requirements, whether they come from the end users or the regulation authorities, a Q&A site aimed at more than just pilots would be a great help.

In return she could explain how a system really works without the over simplifications or myths that are very common in aviation.

I've seen several aviation sites deteriorate into a pissing contest between self proclaimed Skygods exchanging their bizarre views on reality, never forgetting to mention how many XX thousand hours they have flown to substantiate their claims. This always goes together with a "this site is aimed at pilots and you're not a pilot so what could you possibly know?" mentality.

I am looking forward to a Q&A site that balances the operational side of aviation with all its other aspects, where people can freely ask and answer questions and be rewarded reputation based on their knowledge and manners, rather than on the number of hours they claim to have flown.

EDIT

In my view there are quite a number of example questions that have more aerospace in them than you might think at a first glance.

  • What are the differences between groundspeed, indicated airspeed, and true airspeed? (And let's add equivalent airspeed, calibrated airspeed and Mach number to it as well. Aerodynamics with impact on a lot of avionics)
  • How does an airplane wing generates lift ?
    (Many ways to explain that, all probably with some truth in it. Excellent question, difficult to answer)
  • How does "reverse thrust" work ? (When you know that usually most thrust is generated in the compression section (instead of the exhaust) of a jet engine, this is an interesting one)
  • How does a constant speed propeller work?
  • Why does maneuvering speed (Va) change with aircraft weight? (Requires more than average knowledge about aircraft dynamics and stability to explain)
  • How does a vertical speed indicator (VSI) work? (Analog or digital, barometric, intertial or blended? Ranges from very simple to very advanced systems)
  • What is the difference between primary and secondary radar? (Working principles, frequencies, what you use them for, what are the advantages / disadvantages of both. electrotechnics / telecommunications / air traffic control)
  • What is the difference between Mode A, Mode C and Mode S? (pulse formats, addressing scheme, data downlink. Electrotechnics / telecommunications / air traffic control)
  • Are there structural or aerodynamic reasons for the higher gross weights of the later Cessna 182s vs. the earlier ones, or is it a matter of testing? (You see this in many aircraft models, for various reasons best known by the manufacturer. Certification)
  • Aircraft performance: at which speed do you get the best climb speed / angle. How does that relate to engine thrust & power (combination of mechanics and aerodynamics)
  • Why is humid air less dense than dry air? (chemistry, physics with interesting consequences on aircraft performance)
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I would actually love to build a more-encompassing aerospace site, but we have to look at the audience and the example questions as proposed. So maybe we have a conflict between what this community wants to identify itself as and what they've actually built. It almost all about piloting or how to become a pilot, aerodynamics, and a few more-advanced questions. Unfortunately, we can't launch a site named "Aerospace" hoping the audience will live up to that description. – Robert Cartaino Aug 30 '13 at 14:33
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@RobertCartaino There are definitely a number of pure piloting questions, perhaps even the majority. But if I look at the first 40 questions, at least 25% of them have a clear aerospace edge to them. I've edited my post to add some examples. – DeltaLima Aug 30 '13 at 16:25
    
@RobertCartaino I see that the name is changed to Aviation, which I think is fine. However the audience is not well defined. Some enthusiasts are welcome, but I'd hate to see this become another aircraft spotters site. And are aviation professionals welcome if they are not pilots or mechanics? – DeltaLima Aug 30 '13 at 16:52
    
I think enthusiasts should be welcome. The value of having a site like this is that bad questions or answers are culled, it won't turn into another spotters site, and enthusiasts will drive traffic up. – Ralgha Aug 30 '13 at 17:20
    
@Ralgha I think that's a fair point. The voting system will keep the site at a healthy quality, as long as there is a sufficient group of serious contributors. And of course not every question raised by a spotter is a bad one either. – DeltaLima Aug 30 '13 at 20:31
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I would still rather see it called "Aerospace" than "Aviation" if we have to pick one, especially considering the definition of Aerospace and the fact that it encompases Aviation within it. – lnafziger Aug 31 '13 at 3:13
    
@lnafziger It does indeed. On the other hand, there are virtually no questions about space technology in the examples. It could as well be named aeronautics. What is now called aerospace engineering used to be aeronautical engineering before space flight emerged. I did some further reading and found that on wikipedia aviation encompasses "the design, development, production, operation, and use of aircraft", so the name choice isn't that bad. – DeltaLima Aug 31 '13 at 6:42
    
But do we really want to limit ourselves to aircraft? What about the many other things that are closely related and operate in the atmosphere (this includes more than just aviation and space technology). Aeronautics would be an even better choice than Aerospace, as even the layman would recognize it as being about airplanes. – lnafziger Aug 31 '13 at 14:17
    
@DeltaLima: I think "aircraft spotters" type "questions" (sounds like people just posting photos or asking for photos of aircraft?) would be quickly shot down with close votes since they might fit in a forum but not on a Q&A site – ThiefMaster Sep 5 '13 at 11:33
    
@ThiefMaster: indeed the voting system should prevent low quality questions from dominating the site. It's not the photo's I am worried about, but questions regarding whether the aircraft with registration X-XXXX and that lovely colour scheme will be flying to airport XXXX next week, or the best place for making photo's at airport YYYY. Those should be out of scope – DeltaLima Sep 5 '13 at 12:22
    
Yes, those should be out of scope, but trying to control those questions with the name of the site borders on ridiculous. That is precisely what the voting system is for. – Ralgha Sep 9 '13 at 1:24

I own the Aviation Professionals Group on LinkedIn. We have over 114k members increasing at a rate of 150-200 per day.

We have a lot of people in the group, in many related industries, including IT, Air Traffic Controllers, Flight Attendants, Parts Suppliers, Recruiters, Pilots, CEO's, Engineers, Mechanics, Engineers, just about every facet of the industry you can imagine. People from all the major Aerospace companies also belong and actively participate.

Rightly or Wrongly, Aerospace is viewed as the "Technical and Development" side of aviation by most people. Most people are intested in the practical side of aviation, planes in the air and bums on seats, operating airports, etc.

In reality its all about getting the two guys at pointy end of that hollow tube of aluminum from point A to point B in the most efficient, safe and economical manner.

Whilst it is probably correct that Aviation is a Subset of the Aerospace industry, if you want to attract people to the site, you are probably better off to keep it at Aviation and Aerospace as a lot of people see themselves as in the Aviation Industry OR the Aerospace Industry.

Ask any pilot, mechanic, flight attendant, airport manager, etc what industry they are in and I would suggest that the majority would answer Aviation. Ask any Aviation Engineer, Airline Executive, etc and they will probably answer Aerospace or Airline.

So to attract the most quality members, it may well pay to use both terms, Aviation and Aerospace. I do believe that the diferent perceptions between these will merge over time anyway.

EDIT:

I just reread the question, if it needs to be one name, I vote for Aviation, Tagged in the Professionals Category

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