AVmail: June 12, 2003

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Reader mail this week about NASA's cockpit study, Garmin support and more.


GA Pilots Recruited For Cockpit Study

Read your article, and jumped right away to the NASA web page; 'twas looking good 'till I found the following on the Pilot Background Questionnaire:

Due to NASA base restrictions, all participants must be a U.S. citizen. If you were born in a foreign country you must bring your U.S. Naturalization certificate. Immigrant alien (green card) holders are not eligible.

These bloody foreigners; good enough to serve in the armed forces, but not good enough to do their bit for peaceful NASA. Could someone remind them how they got started?

Sylvain Louboutin


Garmin Customer Support

I have a GPSMap 295, about 15 months old (I bought it at Sun-N-Fun in 2002). I developed a glitch with it, where it would work fine in the plane with DC power but would not run on batteries. I sent it to Garmin on May 28 via two-day mail. While it was there I heard from at least three tech's there who answered various questions on email, asked me about the unit, kept me posted as to its status, etc.

I got the GPS back on June 4, fixed, nice little letter, NO CHARGE, with all the current updates loaded into it! This is incredible service -- fast, friendly, no hassles, and no charge. I calculate they had my GPS only three or four days at the most. I intend to tell Flying Magazine and AOPA and EAA also, but wanted to tell you first.

Many kudos to Garmin and their tech department. No way I am ever buying any GPS except a Garmin.

Comet Haraldson


Vortex Generators, Band-Aids or Magic?

There are several errors in this article by Mike Busch [written in 1997]:

1. Paul Robertson did not start Friday International and was never a stockholder in the company. It was started by Charles White and Mike Anderson.

2. Looking at the list of models by each company, one would think that Boundary Layer Research has many models and Micro AeroDynamics has few. That is very misleading and very incorrect. In fact, Micro AeroDynamics has many, many more FAA STC-approved models than all of the other VG companies put together. Further, none of the other companies has produced a VG STC since 1995, but Micro has produced dozens of new models approved with VGs in that time. We are the active company in the vortex generator business. (Please look at our web site www.microaero.com for a complete list of models certified for Micro AeroDynamics VGs.)

3. The BLR and Micro AeroDynamics kits for the Cessna 310R are both priced at $2450.

4. Micro AeroDynamics does indeed include an zero fuel weight (ZFW) increase for the Cessna 310R!

Charles White, President
Micro AeroDynamics


FSS Under Attachk

General Aviation's biggest proponent in the FAA is under attack. For years, the only people in the FAA who have valued and understood the importance of General Aviation have been the men and women who answer the phones at 1-800-WX-BRIEF. Now the FAA is conducting an A-76 study on the Flight Service Option of Air Traffic Control, trying to get rid of them. If successful, the services now performed by government controllers will be performed by contractors, who are more interested in profit than safety. The FAA is proud of the fact that they are considering contracting out Flight Service: The Agency touts the fact that it is conducting the A-76 in many recent articles on the process. However, they mislead the readers when FSS air traffic controllers are referred to as, "Employee's who look at the weather for pilots."

Contrary to what the FAA has told AOPA, the A-76 will not result in modernization of the Flight Service system. In fact the FAA has cut the OASIS budget so much that only 12 AFSSs will have the equipment installed in 2004, and in 2005 only 12 are scheduled now instead of the original 24.

The FAA chooses to spend over $9 million on a study to find ways for AFSS to perform its job more efficiently, instead of funding the equipment that would help us to be more efficient. If the FAA was serious about saving larger amounts of money, it would consolidate its nine regional offices to four in the CONUS and one in Alaska.

If one wants to see what a bad thing privatizing any branch of ATC is, just look to our neighbors to the north. Privatizing has brought increased user fees and decreased services. I urge every pilot to not let this happen to the United States. Write your congressperson; tell them you want all air traffic control to remain "inherently governmental." Right now both the House (H.R. 2115) and Senate (S 284) are considering FAA reauthorization bills. Let them know you want them to sponsor an amendment that will keep all air traffic controllers "inherently governmental." Tell them you donít want your life in the hands of the lowest bidder! For more details on the A-76 process go to the NAATS Web site.

Michael Puffer
San Diego AFSS