What's Really Wrong with ATC? »

EDITORIAL. Hardly a week passes that we don't hear news coverage of outages of obsolete equipment, staffing shortages, cost overruns, funding problems, and controller "burnout" from the stressful, high-intensity nature of the job. But such stories miss the point entirely. What's really wrong with ATC is that the morale among the men and women at the scopes and mics is at an all-time low, perhaps worse today than in 1981 when the ill-advised PATCO strike and ensuing mass controller firings paralyzed U.S. aviation and changed the face of ATC in this country forever. Without a monumental change in FAA management culture, it could happen again soon. More

Toeing the Line: The Second Byrne Letter »

Following is the complete text of the April 27, 2000, letter from FAA Assistant Chief Counsel, Regulations Division, Donald P. Byrne to Rob Hackman at AOPA. According to FAA spokesman Eliot Brenner, this letter supercedes both the Barton letter / Alkalay memorandum as they apply to FAR 91.109 as well as Mr. Byrne's own previous letter . Also, the letter below applies to any operation conducted under FAR 91.109, not just those within territory covered by the RIC FSDO or within the FAA's eastern region.  As referenced in the AVweb article " Toeing the Line: An FSDO Changes the Definition of 'Dual Controls' ." More

Toeing the Line: The Alkalay Memorandum »

Following is the complete text of the March 17, 2000, memorandum from FAA's eastern region counsel that accompanied the March 29, 2000, letter from James D. Barton, manager of the Richmond (Va.) FSDO, to Shenandoah Flight Services.  As referenced in the AVweb article " Toeing the Line: An FSDO Changes the Definition of 'Dual Controls' ." More

Toeing the Line: The Barton Letter »

Following is the complete text including typographical errors of the March 29, 2000, letter from James D. Barton, manager of the Richmond (Va.) FSDO, to Shenandoah Flight Services. As referenced in the AVweb article " Toeing the Line: An FSDO Changes the Definition of 'Dual Controls' ." More

Toeing the Line: The Basham Letter »

Following is the complete text of the September 29, 1999, letter from Lauren D. Basham, acting manager of the FAA's certification branch, to Ken Medley. As referenced in the AVweb article " Toeing the Line: An FSDO Changes the Definition of 'Dual Controls' ." More

Toeing the Line: The First Byrne Letter »

The complete text of the July 29, 1999, letter from Donald P. Byrne, assistance chief counsel, regulations division, to Robert Hackman. As referenced in the AVweb article " Toeing the Line: An FSDO Changes the Definition of 'Dual Controls' ." More

Toeing the Line: An FSDO Changes the Definition of "Dual Controls" »

The FAA's Flight Standards District Offices (FSDOs) have almost unlimited authority to interpret the FARs as they see fit. In Virginia, one flight school faces a regulatory interpretation by its local FSDO that prohibits the use of an airplane lacking two sets of brake pedals for flight instruction or for CFI practical tests. AVweb examines the implications of that interpretation for aircraft owners and operators. More

Physical Duress »

Hate having to make that visit to the AME to get your medical certificate renewed? Just thank heaven you're dealing with the American authorities, not the Japanese. AVweb regular Ken Cubbin is a 747 flight engineer for JAL. After reading Ken's riotous account of his recent JCAB flight physical, you'll probably feel a whole lot better about your next FAA exam. More

Will Work for Food: A Pilot Looks at 60 ... »

One of the classic fallback jobs for airline pilots reaching the mandatory retirement age of 60 is to become a flight engineer on airliners requiring three crewmembers. Sadly, though, that option is becoming increasingly endangered as manufacturers are striving to maximize cockpit automation and limit the number of required crewmembers to only two. All of which presents a major dilemma to pilots in their 50s who are not ready to formally retire. What's a healthy, not-so-wealthy pilot to do? Having recently turned 50, AVweb contributor Ken Cubbin is facing just that question. In this tongue-in-cheek introspective, Ken runs through his options. He hasn't settled on anything yet, but he's having fun getting there. More

Delays Malaise: Time for Change? »

GUEST COMMENTARY. As flight delays in the U.S. rise to alarming levels, everyone acknowledges that the system is broken, but nobody agrees on how to fix it. The controller's union blames the airlines for impossible scheduling practices. The airlines blame the FAA's ATC command center ("central flow") for excessive delays and in-trail spacing, while the FAA blames the weather. Meantime, airports are saturated, runway incursions are increasing alarmingly, and pilots are screaming about position-and-hold and LAHSO. While the FAA desperately tries to modernize the crumbling U.S. ATC infrastructure one piece at a time, Australia is about to launch a whole new clean-sheet-design ATC system. Ken Cubbin says that the U.S. has all the money and resources it needs to create an aviation system for the 21st century, but seems to lack the political will to do so. More