AVmail: May 3, 2004
Reader mail this week about Sport Pilot delays, the future of new aviation technology, Garmin's pricing policy and more.
Sport Pilot Not Ready Yet
The EAA does not understand that OMB represents the public (NewsWire, Apr. 19).
Way back when I was in an Air Force Reserve meeting at Warner Robins, Ga., the Chief Engineer of the Chandler Evans Company emphasized, "Never hatch a half-baked scheme!"
There has been no evidence that NPRM FAA-2001-11133 has approached any level of being ready to be adopted as a finished regulation that will create anything but accelerated acrimony.
AVweb is running a poll that can be easily graphed to indicate very accurately where this NPRM is actually going. I am doing that on a hobby schedule with no time restraints. Anyone else interested can easily create their own methods of arriving at similar results.
Sun 'n Fun Photos
Great images from Sun 'n Fun. I was there, and your pictures really capture much of the feeling. Great job!
Swifters are urged (with tongue firmly in cheek) to boycott AVweb. In reviewing their photo galleries of Sun 'n Fun 2004, not a single photo of a Swift was to be found! There are multiple photos of P-51 Mustangs, for example. Just what does that airplane have that a Swift doesn't? This glaring omission must not go unpunished. Boycott AVweb! (For a week or so. Then we'll forgive them.)
Is there a specific reason you did not include the pictures of the Aveo airplane that was on exhibit in the ultralight section that drew so many crowds? You amaze me in your selection of pictures.
Name withheld by request
You honor us by presuming that we have the ability to visit and photograph every aircraft type at Sun 'n Fun. The best we can say is, if we offended aficionados of certain models, we offended them equally and without malice. And if you have Sun 'n Fun photos of Swifts, Aveos or any other neglected airplane, please submit them to our Picture of the Week contest.
AVmail and Features Editor
Air Tours -- Get 'Em While You Can
Just a note to say "Thanks" for keeping this issue on the front burner. A group of us that operate vintage plane rides have started a Web site where people can find out more about this NPRM.
Pushing Back the Future
From STARS through WAAS, LAAS and NEXCOM, aviation safety programs are being put on hold by the Department of Transportation. Ken Mead's announcement isn't really unexpected (NewsWire, Apr. 25). I wonder if the Inspector General actually thinks that the impending retirement of 7,000 controllers over the next nine years will have no effect on safety? Well, perhaps it won't, since he is reported as saying that it might not be "necessary" to replace all the retirees, depending on "air traffic levels and new technologies." For the last phrase, read the extent to which the Administration decides to curtail travel by air and the technologies and personnel that usually handle such travel.
Bush the Second and his "team" has a far bigger goal in mind, and civilian air traffic isn't one of them. As long as Bush II is "in command," expect all kinds of slashing to civilian services, not only to aviation. The big goal they want to achieve is nothing less than the domination of the world by the United States' huge corporations. Don't believe me? Just read "Hegemony or Survival" by Noam Chomsky, "The Corporation" by Joel Bakan and other works by authors on this subject. As well as being the world's only superpower, the U.S. is also the world's greatest debtor, owing trillions. To secure oil around the globe, it needs all the funds it can lay its hand on. Frivolities like civilian flying will have to go by the wayside.
The prime minister of my country, Canada, is actively working to make this beautiful place an American vassal. He has just created a new ministry that does the same job as the U.S. Department of Homeland Security; and other nefarious, behind-the-scenes acts are in the works.
What a world.
In the article on Pushing the Future Back, you quote the FAA as saying they "face fundamental problems with respect to misjudging technological maturity, unexpected cost growth, or concerns about how to move forward in a cost-effective way," In plain English that reads, "We have never been able to manage technology improvement programs and we never will."
There is one other consideration on why privatization may happen: In 2006, a huge percentage of the controllers are eligible to retire. The FAA has done absolutely nothing to prepare for this.
In fact, they are turning down qualified controllers; and, it is rumored, they are withdrawing funding of the training programs at 14 schools nationally.
Why would they do this when a crisis is on the horizon? Could it be to force the issue on privatization? I can see it now: "We can't train enough candidates, but if we turn this over to XYZ Corp., they have assured us they will be able to staff it."
The government is aware of these problems: "The GAO has warned that a lack of experienced controllers could require the FAA to ask the airlines to reduce their schedules," was in a recent report. And FAA Administrator Blakely has commented on it publicly. So who doesn't want to fund it? Maybe a handful of Senator's who have an agenda other than national air safety? And, exactly what is that agenda?
Garmin Response on Pricing Policy
Two weeks ago, AVweb published a letter to the editor bemoaning a new pricing practice Garmin was using for its GPSMAP 296 (AVmail, Apr. 19). Garmin has supplied the following response to that letter.
Thank you for the opportunity to explain the pricing policy that was implemented with the introduction of Garmin's exciting new GPSMAP 296 -- a portable GPS unit that offers unparalleled navigation, safety and situational awareness capabilities.
The purpose of this policy has perhaps been misunderstood by some in the industry. The Garmin pricing policy on the GPSMAP 296 is a unilateral policy (known legally as a "Colgate" policy after the U.S. Supreme Court decision in U.S. v. Colgate & Co., 250 U.S. 300 , which held such policies to be legal and valid) under which distributors remain free to establish their own prices but Garmin reserves the right to unilaterally decline to accept GPSMAP 296 orders from any distributor that has advertised, offered, or sold any GPSMAP 296 at a net retail sales price less than the minimum resale price established and announced by Garmin.
Garmin's objectives in adopting this policy are threefold:
- To ensure that the distributor's advertising and introduction of the Garmin GPSMAP 296 will properly highlight the features, benefits, quality and value of this innovative new GPS portable product,
- To encourage our distributors to invest in the sales, marketing and promotion of the GPSMAP 296 as well as undertake necessary training of their sales personnel to properly promote the value inherent in the product,
- To prevent erosion of Garmin's premium brand image by, among other things, avoiding the use of the GPSMAP 296 as a loss leader.
"Colgate" pricing policies are not uncommon among leading consumer electronics companies and they have helped create strong dealer relationships and loyal customer followings. Introducing the policy to aviation may take some education but we are confident it will help reinforce the highest standards of product value and customer satisfaction.
In response to an accusation that refers to the Nine West Group case and the FTC, you may want to take a look at the FTC's analysis of this case. (See this report from the FTC -- scroll down to March 6, 2000.) You will see that, in fact, the FTC expressly stated here that "Colgate" policies like Garmin's GPSMAP 296 policy are lawful. As the FTC stated, "Nine West did not merely announce these policies and terminate a retailer that did not adhere to them, which would have been lawful ..." (my emphasis added).
New Aircraft Registration Procedures Announced by FAA
The FAA has finalized a requirement that ALL applications for aircraft registration (AC Form 8050-1) must have the actual name of the person(s) signing the document printed or typed in the appropriate space. (See Federal Register Vol 69, No. 56/Tuesday March 23, 2004.) If the name is not there the application will be returned. This requirement has been in place all along but the FAA is now enforcing it. Also, submitters should also remember that each copy of the application must be signed in ink as an original! (Lift the carbon paper up and sign each page. The carbon paper is there for the name and title, etc, not the signature!!)
Thanks. Keep up the great work!
Gary H. Readio
AVweb's recent Business NewsWire Issue article entitled "Are Crop-Dusters Terrorists?" (BizAv, Apr. 27)contained information taken from an article in The Wichita Eagle, which contained misleading information from an Associated Press article written by Curt Anderson.
The National Agricultural Aviation Association (NAAA) confirmed with its sources at the FBI on April 26, 2004, that there have been no recent follow-ups with aerial application operators or pilots in the U.S. based on security concerns. Also, the NAAA has been informed by the FBI that there are no threats from the agricultural aviation industry. The investigations that Mr. Anderson spoke of in his article took place nearly a year ago, and the public is just now becoming aware of these investigations through reports recently released by the 9/11 Commission.
NAAA and its membership have aggressively promoted enhanced security procedures developed in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. The agricultural aviation industry had security measures in place before the tragic events of 9/11. Security measures by operators have always been proactive, rapid and widespread.
A few security measures adopted by the agricultural aviation industry include:
- Storing aircraft and crop protection products in locked hangars with electronic security systems when not in use.
- Parking and disabling loader trucks, forklifts, or other equipment to block aircraft.
- In cases where the aircraft must be left outdoors, using propeller chains and tie down chains on aircraft.
- Removing batteries from planes and disassembling engines from unused aircraft.
- Operators have installed hidden security switches to prevent unauthorized startup of the aircraft.
- Establish contact with federal and local law enforcement agencies to coordinate responses to security breaches at ag aviation facilities. Encourage operators to list the appropriate law enforcement agency telephone numbers in a prominent place within their operations. Also outdoor security lighting around hangars and operations is encouraged.
Never in the history of agricultural aviation has an aerial application plane been hijacked. The complexity and sophistication of aerial application aircraft, combined with the level of skill required to operate these planes make it unlikely that they could be used in attacks by terrorists with minimal training.
Our industry continues to work closely with local, state and federal officials to ensure that the equipment used in our business is not a threat to homeland security.
Executive Director, NAAA
This is Humor?
When reading a recent AVflash, I got down to the Short Final section (NewsWire, Apr. 26). I found the controllers response highly unprofessional and obnoxious:
Pilot: Approach, Skylane N###, Could I have a right turn direct my destination?
Approach: Standby. I'll check to see if that Dash 8 doing 200 knots up your five-o'clock feels like wearing you on his lapel ..."
The pilot may have had no idea there was traffic that his request, if approved, would have conflicted with. A professional would have responded with, "Unable at this time, traffic at your 5 o'clock."
I usually scroll to Short Final for a chuckle. I found nothing about this controller's response humorous in the least.
Previous AVmail letters to the editor are also available.