AVmail: June 7, 2004
Reader mail this week about GA usage fees, drug smugglers, circling approaches in the PTS and much more.
GA Fair Share
One of the problems with the debate over GA "not paying its fair share" of FAA expenses (NewsWire, May 31) is that GA doesn't need all of the FAA "assistance." The entire U.S. airway system was developed at the request (demand?) of the airlines. So let them pay for it. GA could pay for the services that they choose to use, but should not be expected to pay for the ones that they are forced to use!
It seems reasonable that Northwest Airlines CEO Richard Anderson would support GA user fees ... as well as any other "heavy iron" operator. They can certainly point to all kinds of statistics (which we all know can support any position) and I imagine the politicians will roll out to find new revenue sources, as that is what politicians do. But the fact is, the ATC system is built for the airlines. Otherwise, letís just dismantle it. I suspect that GA could get along a "little" better than Northwest Airlines could, if the Centers and all Approaches suddenly ceased to exist. There is no doubt that GA uses the "system." That fact seems to have a bit of a positive "safety" impact, on the industry along with the associated cost savings that safety brings. If these greedy bean counters want to destroy GA for their benefit, how would they accommodate the resulting need for "seat capacity" since GA accounts for 40% of the capacity?
GA does use the system but this has been encouraged by government, the airline industry, all the safety geeks and anyone else interested in aviation because GA helps justify the ATC system and all those little towers that keep sprouting up. Itís the flight operations count that helps support the justification for the system. Anderson and those of his ilk are doing nothing more than helping organize the playing field to accomplish what most of them want, and that is the elimination of GA. They will never be able to handle the load, but they do not to want to share the sky with us. Andersonís quote -- "The fees general aviation operators pay today don't even come close to covering the costs of the federal aviation services they receive" -- either shows his ignorance or his desire to further kill our freedom to fly in this country. Will they be successful? Sure they will, because this is not a fairness issue or a safety issue ... it is a money issue and big money is what talks. Aviation (particularly GA) in this country will be destroyed just as it has been in most other places on this globe.
Just remember the rule of unintended consequences. I actually donít need the FAA, the ATC or the expensive system they have built. I can find my way from A to B without a lot of help. I can do it at a thousand feet and could even do it without a single radio if necessary! I donít need to file a flight plan and can get a weather brief from many different places. Having a lot of aircraft buzzing around out there with no flight plan wouldnít seem to be in the best interests of anyone. If the airlines owned the ATC system (which they may already), then maybe they could set the rules. The ATC system is a government system for the benefit of all: airlines, GA, the guy on the ground, all of us. We pay for the system with taxes, fuel tax, purchase of aircraft, flight training, and all aviation-related costs (and we all know there are a lot of those). Destroying GA doesnít seem the wise choice
Northwest Airline's efforts to try and force GA to pay even higher costs rings quite hollow with this former airline pilot. Huge amounts of tax money are expended throughout the system predominantly for airline use.
Just one example: The new Denver airport. There is no way the airlines paid their "fair share" of that project.
The vast majority of GA is still single-engine aircraft that seldom use a towered airport. Airlines trying to stuff more costs down the GA user's throat are only trying, once again, to preserve a failing business model.
Personally I think that Brazil's idea of shooting down suspected drug smugglers flying any time of the day or night is a great idea (NewsWire, May 31). As for the U.S. objecting, the U.S. should mind its own business as to what other countries are doing to stop the drug business. If all ships caught smuggling drugs to the U.S. were boarded out at sea and found to have loads of drugs aboard and all crew members above the age of 16 were hung from the yard arms and then the ship set afire and sunk on the spot while being televised world-wide, maybe then the drug traffickers would think twice before doing same. Worth a try, anyway. You would think by now that our liberal, left-thinking public and people in government would have learned to keep our noses out of foreign countries business.
My opinion for what it's worth.
I think the inclusion of circling approaches in the instrument PTS and for IPCs is very appropriate (NewsWire, May 31). The accident rates bear out the need to improve training for such approaches. I have always taught a circling approach procedure where we use outside references only to confirm position, while controlling and positioning the aircraft by instrument and timing. They should be considered as SOP, as I'm sure you'll find that as we include more and more airport in the instrument system there will more and more airports with only circling approaches being available.
As for the simulators, etc., not having wrap-around views -- I haven't found that circling an airport at 4-500 feet in 1 mile visibility provides much of a "wrap-around" or much of any other kind of view; thus the need for more training in positioning with respect to the runway. We do this by timing turns, and keeping track of headings and time such that the relative position of the aircraft to the runway is always "known." Meanwhile we control the aircraft attitude by instrument reference and looking outside only when in straight-and-level flight to confirm position (i.e., scan the outside just as if it were one more instrument providing a bit of info) until essentially lined up with the runway.
Normalized steel is not stronger than other steels (NewsWire, May 31). It is a softer steel that is actually weaker, but has less of a tendency to crack. It is usually used on places with extreme vibration where cracking is a concern. Alternator brackets, compressor brackets, and other brackets mounting directly to engines are usually made of normalized steel.
U.S. Forest Service Liability
If the U.S. Forest Service has concerns over liability resulting from the use of the current tanker fleet (NewsWire, May 31), maybe they should take a look at their use of Canadian-registered, Russian-built aircraft that the FAA will not certify in the U.S. because of "safety issues."
Just writing to say a quick "thanks" for keeping AVweb free and interesting! I just (this week) finished my private pilots license, and have been enjoying AVweb throughout my training.
Thanks again, and keep 'er up!
We All Need to Remember D-Day
On Thursday, AVweb had a headline, "France To Remember D-Day By Shooting Down Private Pilots?" (NewsWire, June 3).
Who wrote this line? Whoever it was does not have a clue as to the significance of that day 60 years ago, to the free world, nor the importance of security for the many dignitaries that will attend the ceremonies, including the President of the United States. In today's world, terrorists have no moral qualms about using any means, including General Aviation, to make their point and kill for their own demented causes. We all know that France did not support the United States in some of its endeavors to fight terrorism, but regardless of how they, France, felt and feel about the U.S. and its policies, they are taking correct and extraordinary measures to insure that terrorist do not use GA or any form of aviation as a means to evoke terrorist actions on this solemn occasion that represents the lengths the free world will go to insure a free and democratic society for the world.
We cannot trust any terrorist organization to not use any means possible to disrupt this ceremony. What do you think would happen if a terrorist used General Aviation as a weapon? Well, our beloved passion for flying would certainly be severely curtailed from that moment on. Let's make sure terrorists understand what lengths we and our allies, irrespective of our differences, are prepared to go to protect that freedom for everyone.
In conclusion, your writers should, without question, apologize to France and the French government for the insensitive headlines used to describe what length the French are prepared and willing to go to protect all participants of the D-Day ceremonies. It was very poor and insensitive reporting on the part of your organization and its news team. Please understand that I'm in full support of freedom of the press, but that freedom comes with responsibility and the understanding of the price paid for that freedom by thousands of young men 60 years ago.