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More options Jul 21 2012, 8:42 pm
From: Steve Aerospace <st...@randomaerospace.com>
Date: Sun, 22 Jul 2012 01:42:59 +0100
Local: Sat, Jul 21 2012 8:42 pm
Subject: Re: [UKHAS] Re: Insurance
I don't believe the risks are "vanishingly small".  Small yes - but not vanishingly so - and the impact can be large.
Take the scenario of a payload landing in a road that someone swerves to avoid - potentially fatal.

Some rough math and observation would suggest that the chances of any flight landing on an A road are circa 0.1% (see below) and in front of a vehicle - perhaps 5% of that.

I know at least one instance where a payload has landed on railway track in East Anglia - there is a lot less of that than road.

Steve

Math:   Lets assume that we keep the flight well away from motorways and that B roads aren't a concern. There are 48,164 km of A roads in the GB - lets say they are all 6m wide. Thats 289 sq Km of road surface. The total area of GB is 243,610 sq km - so the probability of a payload landing randomly in GB on an A road is a little over 0.1%.
We could probably argue about whether this average is appropriate for the areas in which we land - but I doubt that it is wildly out.
Take a look at an A road in google maps to get an appreciation of the occupancy during daylight hours.

On 21 Jul 2012, at 19:22, Adam Greig wrote:

> I don't want to get too involved in this discussion because I don't
> think it's very productive, but I want to point out that the risks
> we're talking about here are vanishingly small -- especially once you
> start using the predictor to avoid built up areas. Our launches
> themselves present essentially no danger (especially compared to model
> aircraft or rockets), planes would win in a collision, and soft
> polystyrene cases landing at 5m/s will not damage a wide array of
> objects. There are obviously extreme(ly unlikely) situations where
> problems could arise, but the same can be said of any activity.

> The met office launch two balloons a day from multiple sites around
> the country and have done for years, without heed to predictions, and
> have had no incidents. Met offices in most countries do likewise.

> I don't agree that one high profile incident would end the hobby,
> either -- plenty of other hobbies survive severe incidents and without
> specific legislation being passed or guidance issued to prohibit what
> we do, I don't see any reason we'd have to stop launching HABs.

> Pretty much the only useful reason to obtain insurance is for working
> with organisations that require it for whatever reason -- for example
> media companies or the ESA, the two situations that people have
> already been able to obtain insurance for.

> Given that, I don't see that formalising a members' organisation for
> the purposes of arranging insurance (or qualifications in aid thereof)
> would really be beneficial. Maybe that's the direction all hobbies
> evolve as more people take them up, and if so then so be it, but I'd
> rather it be for reasons other than trying to make insurance easier to
> obtain (a premise we still don't know about, anyway).

> A parting thought: insurers exist to make a profit, not to provide a
> public service. Given the very low volume of HAB launches and the
> relatively very low cost we could bear to pay, it would take a heck of
> a lot more launches for it to be worth them being particularly
> interested. I don't see many people flocking to pay hundreds of pounds
> per hobbyist launch -- it would instantly become the most expensive
> part of a launch, to protect against an extremely rare failure, and
> that cost alone would kill the hobby quicker than any one incident
> might.

> On 21 July 2012 18:59, steamf...@gmail.com <steamf...@gmail.com> wrote:
>> One thing that might make a difference in insurance risk assessment is that
>> the rocket groups have rigorous certification levels that are 'required' of
>> people before using higher power rockets.

>> Thanks,
>> Dan

>> Sent from my iPhone

>> On Jul 21, 2012, at 5:54, MikeB <mikebessant...@gmail.com> wrote:

>> Certainly an important subject.

>> I have never really understood why the BMFA offers insurance for model
>> rocketry but will not consider doing the same for HAB flights. Some of the
>> high powered rockets are potentially very dangerous. I would much prefer to
>> be hit around the head by a small foam box than a pointy lump of carbon
>> fibre.

>> It does seem that it will continue to be difficult for individuals to obtain
>> HAB insurance but that the economies of scale associated with a
>> group/organisation approach would be more successful. If MMFA can't help,
>> what would be involved in setting up a HABFA? Lots of paperwork and other
>> unpleasantness I expect but then it is probably the only way to go for the
>> long-term survival of the activity. It will only take one high profile
>> uninsured 'incident' to kill HAB in the UK stone dead.

>> MikeB

>> On Friday, July 20, 2012 2:35:40 PM UTC+1, Ed (eroomde) - CUSF wrote:

>>> In order to get some discussion points for the conference, and to save
>>> the conference thread getting side-swiped off topic, I thought I might
>>> start a new discussion.

>>> If you have successfully (or unsuccessfully but having learned
>>> something useful on the way) got insurance for a balloon flight,

>>> I will start the ball rolling:

>>> 1) CUSF used to get insurance via the university insurance department
>>> but that was withdrawn in 2008 as they decided our activities were no
>>> longer covered. (We didn't change what we did, they changed their
>>> interpretation of the rules).

>>> 2) I got insurance as a private individual (i.e. in my name) for the
>>> CUSF ExoMars parachute testing project. I got this from Falcon
>>> Insurance in texas, talking to a broker who specialised in
>>> aerospace. He is no longer with them sadly, and the broker who dealt
>>> with the contract subsequently did not give the impression that it was
>>> something they particularly wanted to continue with new customers
>>> given economics. The coverage was for 3 flights of our esa drop
>>> vehicle (or subsections of it). I spent a *very* long time explaining
>>> to them what we were doing and why we wouldn't be able to afford
>>> whatever they would quote us (i.e. please make a special exemption
>>> because we're not for profit and our project is awesome). You need an
>>> actual human contact in order to do this. In the end it cost us
>>> \$5000USD for 3 flights, a bill we passed on to ESA. I had tried 4 or 5
>>> people before that, including some of the insurers that I know have
>>> covered HAB flights for TV work for other ukhas members before, but
>>> they were quite specific that it had to be only for tv stuff, (special
>>> effects), even though we were doing the same actual hab activity. You
>>> can imagine, given my reputation for patience and understanding in the
>>> face of the irrational, that I loved every moment of these
>>> conversations. I am firmly of the opinion that people in the insurance
>>> industry and taken straight from Joseph Heller novels.

>> On Friday, July 20, 2012 2:35:40 PM UTC+1, Ed (eroomde) - CUSF wrote:

>>> In order to get some discussion points for the conference, and to save
>>> the conference thread getting side-swiped off topic, I thought I might
>>> start a new discussion.

>>> If you have successfully (or unsuccessfully but having learned
>>> something useful on the way) got insurance for a balloon flight,

>>> I will start the ball rolling:

>>> 1) CUSF used to get insurance via the university insurance department
>>> but that was withdrawn in 2008 as they decided our activities were no
>>> longer covered. (We didn't change what we did, they changed their
>>> interpretation of the rules).

>>> 2) I got insurance as a private individual (i.e. in my name) for the
>>> CUSF ExoMars parachute testing project. I got this from Falcon
>>> Insurance in texas, talking to a broker who specialised in
>>> aerospace. He is no longer with them sadly, and the broker who dealt
>>> with the contract subsequently did not give the impression that it was
>>> something they particularly wanted to continue with new customers
>>> given economics. The coverage was for 3 flights of our esa drop
>>> vehicle (or subsections of it). I spent a *very* long time explaining
>>> to them what we were doing and why we wouldn't be able to afford
>>> whatever they would quote us (i.e. please make a special exemption
>>> because we're not for profit and our project is awesome). You need an
>>> actual human contact in order to do this. In the end it cost us
>>> \$5000USD for 3 flights, a bill we passed on to ESA. I had tried 4 or 5
>>> people before that, including some of the insurers that I know have
>>> covered HAB flights for TV work for other ukhas members before, but
>>> they were quite specific that it had to be only for tv stuff, (special
>>> effects), even though we were doing the same actual hab activity. You
>>> can imagine, given my reputation for patience and understanding in the
>>> face of the irrational, that I loved every moment of these
>>> conversations. I am firmly of the opinion that people in the insurance
>>> industry and taken straight from Joseph Heller novels.

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Steve Randall
Random Engineering Ltd
st...@randomaerospace.com
+44 7802 242135