AVmail: January 19, 2004
Reader mail this week about FSS privatization, CBS' investigation of GA safety and more.
There have been previous letters regarding privatization (AVmail, Dec. 29). For the record, the FAA is already in the process of privatizing the Flight Service Option. Bids are available for interested parties and a selection is to be made in March 2005.
The Administration is going full speed to privatize the FSS option. Doing so could potentially reduce services by having poorer coordination with other ATC facilities and not being able to react with the same speed to new TFRs. Also, there is the potential for fees to be established if the money provided by the contract is not enough, or the further consolidation of the FSSs into two or three superstations for the entire country.
If you want to keep FSS within the government, contact your representatives and let them know.
Erroneous Statement about FAA EFVS Rule
There was a brief mis-statement in the most recent issue of AVweb to the effect that the new FAA rule on EFVS would allow approach operations below minima (NewsWire, January 15). This is not true. The approach minima are unaffected by the use of EFVS, but the EFVS may be used to satisfy the visiblity requirements. This can sound confusing, but a careful reading of the preamble to the rule, contained in the Notice will show that this question was addressed in detail.
We're still researching the accuracy of our report (the final rule was unavailable on the FAA's web site when we checked), but it looks like yours is a better representation of the rule.
Features and AVmail Editor
Why not purchase the surplus aircraft carrier (NewsWire, Jan. 12), position it off "Dailey Park" and call it Meigs Field?
AVweb wrote (NewsWire, Jan. 15):
... Winston Churchill's famous remark about the Normandy pilots: "Never in the field of human conflict has so much been owed by so many to so few."
When, in 1940 after the collapse of my country, Sir Winston Churchill spoke of "the few," it was not the time of Normandy, which began freedom in 1944, but the time of the Battle of Britain, which stopped the German flow.
You're right, of course. We got a little ahead of ourselves. Churchill made the comments in a speech on August 20, 1940. The Normandy landings did not take place until nearly four years later, in June of 1944. Thanks for the point out and for using AVweb.
CBS' Homeland Security Report
I will agree that the news media story writers go off half cocked most of the time (NewsWire, Jan. 15).
But, there is a point well made in the subject report, that there is a potential for terrorism using GA as a base. That was admitted by an Airport Manager. Instead of attacking the subject on the defensive, GA pilots should take the offensive and secure their aircraft as best they can: prop locks, ignition locks, tie down locks, etc. It may only slow down a terrorist bent on stealing a plane, but that along with the Community Airport Watch Program can be positive actions to be used to counter this criticism. Pointing out that it is only equivelent to a VW full of explosives is counterproductive.
Of course, if the terrorists buy their own aircraft, all security bets (including razor wire) are off.
Several AVweb readers sent us copies of the letters they wrote to CBS News after the broadcast. The following is one example.
Dear CBS News:
The vast majority of general aviation aircraft are too small to carry the load required to be considered useful to terrorists. They know this but it seems CBS has no knowledgeable staff on the subject. Your "Eye on America" report regarding threats from general aviation is irresponsible.
Your piece seems almost on behalf of the terrorists working to deny our freedoms. Your efforts to make money by pandering to ignorance does more than risk depriving honest American citizens their flight privileges. General aviation is the nursery for almost every pilot in America.
The pilots in America’s armed services -- those who protect you and this country's right to free press -- don't begin flying after enlistment. Do some honest research. You will find that most armed services pilots became pilots at their own expense through general aviation.
Do you think America can afford the additional cost in training and higher pay for the necessary longer enlistment to train pilots "from scratch"? Where do you think airline pilots get started on their career? The Military? Most airline pilots start through general aviation. No pilots, no airline. Can America afford to lose that industry too?
And, frankly, it all comes back to how much weight a general aviation craft can lift. Not much and not enough to "make a statement" as terrorists prefer. They need to make a bigger splash to get the TV coverage like that from CBS.
A news truck could carry much more weight in explosives than a small airplane. A news truck is also more likely to be parked "in a significant location" than any light aircraft could hope to access.
Thanks to your recent piece, I am going focus efforts to raise public awareness of the threat posed by news trucks. Maybe something like, "Packed with explosives, news trucks could be devastating bombs," or possibly, "Vulnerability is the price when news trucks have unlimited access to poplated areas."
Come to think of it, your camera equipment is rather bulky, too. I think news crew camera equipment should not only be tested but disassembled before allowing it into any populated location. After all, our safety is more important than your rights, isn't it?