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Regarding the speculation that shifting cargo caused the crash of Boeing 747 in Afghanistan, I have some experience with flying an aircraft with rearward center of gravity.
Years ago, I was flying a C-47, and the urinal in the head froze up. The co-pilot and several other people were trying to thaw it out with cigarette lighters. The head on the C-47 is in the tail end of the aircraft.
In all of my years of flying, this really scared me. I asked them all to slowly back out of the area one at a time, and to leave only one person in the head. We would always load the aircraft with as far aft CG as we could. In doing so, we could get another 10 to 15 knots of cruise speed out of the C-47.
The controls on a DC-3 are rather heavy. In this case, with all of them stacked in the tail end of the aircraft, all I had to do was touch the yoke, and the aircraft went into wild gyrations, nose up and down. The aircraft was no longer statically stable.
I knew if we should hit turbulent air we would be toast and the accident investigation board would want to know why so many people were in the toilet. I can just imagine the different theories on that one.
I planned an FAA Safety Team seminar on the subject of non-towered operations at towers closed by sequestration. The speakers listed would be FAA Safety Team members, local ATC controllers, and FSDO inspectors.
The document was released to 8,000-plus pilots in the Tampa Bay area by FAASafety.gov around April 1. On April 3, I got a phone call from FAA Safety Team management advising me to revise the notice and remove any mention of FAA involvement. I expressed my extreme displeasure with that direction, but I revised the notice. Two days later I got a call from the same manager telling me that FAA HQ wanted me to change the title and remove any mention of the word "sequestration." In addition, I was advised to not discuss budgetary items or sequestration with pilots.
I cannot detail here what I said to the manager because a censor would redact them. I refused to change the title. I also threatened to resign as a Lead Team Rep (been one for 25 years) because I will not let the FAA trample on my First Amendment rights. The manager asked me not to resign, especially when I told him the next call I was making would be to the media.
The FAA is not paying a penny for the countless hours I have devoted to the FAA Safety Program. I refuse to be intimidated by faceless Washington HQ types who cannot stand the heat brought on by their total disregard for aviation safety.
The title of the seminar was revised without me. It was held last week with 66 pilots attending. We discussed everything that the FAA told me not to discuss.
This attempt by FAA HQ to manage the story cannot be tolerated. That's why I am writing this letter.
Regarding the tower closures: This is to the instructor who is worried about the effect of the tower closings and his students mixing with jet and turbine traffic.
I have flown jets into and out of non-towered airports for years. Except for a few that are single-pilot certified, jets are crewed by two very proficient pilots who go extra diligent when in the ATA. We make position reports to let everyone flying in the area know where we are. We do not go blasting into an airport, as you suggest.
As long as you teach your students to remain alert, make the necessary position reports, and not cut in front of speedier traffic, they will survive with or without towers, and so will we.
Letter of the Week: Question from a Midair Veteran
I have read your interesting article on mid-air collisions, but I cannot agree totally with it. I am the lucky survivor of an actual mid-air, where my Twin Comanche at 150 kts cut off the fin of a Cessna C172RG at 125 kts, losing most of my left wing tip in the crash. Luckily, nobody was hurt, but it still puzzles me how such an event may have occurred.
In perfectly clear weather, I was on my toes knowing that traffic at the same altitude (2,000 feet) was heavy and having been warned by ATC of traffic on the opposite heading. Unfortunately, I had just passed another aircraft on opposite heading and thought that was it. Despite what I believed to be an accurate scan, we only saw each other at a distance of about 1,000 feet. I dove sharply to the right, but the other guy also dove without turning, so I pulled up hoping to avoid him. Well, I didn't make it.
My question is: In case you really are close, is it better to dive, to keep him in sight, or to pull up?
I just read the "Short Final" section of the Feb. 25 issue of AVweb. I get the joke, but I wonder if you folks understand the impact this kind of joke has on current and potential women aviators?
By way of full disclosure: I am a middle-age white guy. I teach at a small state-run aviation university, I am an 11-year Air Force veteran, and I am old enough that I should be the primary demographic focus of this joke, but I do not find it humorous at all.
After watching first-hand all the crap that the first group of women had to endure when they were allowed to fly aboard the E-3 Sentry and continuing to listen to the stories of our recent women graduates about all the crap they continue to have to put up with, I would ask you to reconsider the publication of similar jokes in the future.
I am pretty sure that none of you had any malicious intent when publishing this joke. I am also pretty sure that none of you intended this "Short Final" to scare women away from aviation. But as aviators I think we all have a duty to recognize, especially when we are in positions of power or influence, that what we say and do can have a very powerful influence over our younger charges. I have become especially aware of this since becoming a teacher.
So the favor that I ask is simply that you become a bit more introspective and think about the impact of the material you publish.
I doubt you would publish a "Short Final" where the punchline related to a pilot doing something dangerous or illegal. That would send the wrong message. I ask that you take the same precautions when contemplating publication of material that could send the message that women are not welcome here.
Regarding your article on motion in simulators: Bravo to you folks for publicizing a dirty little secret. Your question "How important is motion?" is the right one to ask. As you pointed out, what we really care about is transfer of training.
The topic of motion in simulators has been debated since the 1950s, with the results consistently stacking up as you depict them in the article. The problem is that the facts contradict "common sense." The conventional wisdom is that the more the simulator is like the airplane the "better" it is. All airplanes have motion, so all simulators should have motion. That logic also leads us to believe the earth is flat.
I have been a human factors engineer in aviation for 40 years and seen many situations where multi-million dollar decisions regarding simulators were made on this topic. The decisions consistently disregard the studies because the study did not support the preconceived notion.
The current study is on a long list of similar studies (some done recently by the FAA) that come to roughly the same conclusions. We refuse to believe the results, make decisions based on beliefs rather than facts, and so fund more studies hoping the results will be different.
Thanks for bringing this topic to the daylight and treating it properly.
While GAMA and others cry foul, one of the largest owners of jets, NetJets' Warren Buffett, complains he's not paying enough tax yet his company will participate to lower their tax liability with accelerated depreciation, thus his tax rate is lowered.
Being in the high-tax-rate group but not high enough to afford the fat cat travel modes, I pay for their benefits because of their lobbyists.
Additionally, many of their products are not built in the U.S. and really benefit Canada or Brazil, so why should the U.S. general taxpayer subsidize corporate fat cats like Buffett of Jeff Imelt at GE? Let them join the regular tax-paying public and enjoy the jocularity of the TSA while traveling.
I believe in flat taxes so there are no politics in collections. We all pay and make our decision on sound personal economic terms, not political DC intrigue.
If Buffett believes he's not paying enough taxes, the U.S. Treasury does accept donations. Why not drop a check off on them? In my youth, we had a saying: "Put up or shut up."
Accelerated depreciation to keep the fat cats flying cheaper is a non-starter for me and for most of the flying public.
Why shouldn't the FAA be compensated for gathering the data that goes to the app-makers? Why, and how, do people think they are entitled to something for nothing? Or, in Mr. Goldstein's case, pay nothing at wholesale so they can add some value and sell at retail. Come on.
I note the article in the Jan. 24 issue of AVweb, "Fuel Projects Move Forward, But Slowly," and I appreciate the reference to mogas in the article; however, I would like to clarify and expand a couple of points.
I am writing with some thoughts about the Agusta 109 helicopter crash in London last week. One has to fly this particular heliroute (H4) below 1,000 feet due to Heathrow approach traffic and "above the high/low waterline."
I've flown it several times, though not for a few years. The actual location of this crane (nearly 800 feet high) is right on the edge of the river and presents little margin for safety for a pilot constrained to fly below 1,000 feet and over the same edge of the river. The location is featured in a NOTAM, though it is possible that the pilot never read it, as this was an in-flight diversion, not a planned excursion into the London Heliroutes.
The weather was foggy that day with low cloud and seems unlikely to have complied with the mandatory SVFR conditions for the routes. Looking at the NOTAM got me thinking: It specifies the obstacle using the usual Lat/Long:
HIGH RISE JIB CRANE (LIT AT NIGHT) OPR WI 1NM 5129N 00007W, HGT 770FT AMSL
I don't know any human who can interpret such a location unaided. As this obstacle is bang in the line of a published route, with little vertical margin of safety, wouldn't such a notice be much more effective if instead it read something like:
On the south bank of the River Thames at Vauxhall Bridge on Heliroute H4
Then pilots could immediately visualise the threat.
One has to wonder why it isn't marked on a map it is nearly 800 feet high! and pilots told to fly to the north of the river to avoid it?