AVmail: Oct. 4, 2004
Reader mail this week about ATC staffing, differences between the presidential candidates, why we fly and much more.
Airport Closures and Other Anti-Aviation Stuff
I agree with Terri Lee Jones (AVmail, Sep. 13): The TSA should use the terrorist watch list to ensure those people who object to aircraft sound and overflights are not unduly provoked. Timothy McVeigh was a great guy, very conscientious, convinced the government was on the wrong track, and just plain went over the top in his methods of correcting their errors. Who can say for certain that the noise whiner of today won't morph into a violent attacker tomorrow? They must be protected from themselves! As to the actual method of prohibiting their accessing aircraft -- if Teddy K. has trouble getting on a commercial flight, it should be a simple matter to keep "lesser mortals" from getting on.
Great idea, Terri!
McCauley Two-Blade Props
I was wondering what trouble people have been having in balancing McCauley Propellers. I have a Cessna 182 and have never been able to balance it within normal limits. McCauley will not help so I will have to buy another prop. I did learn that the two McCauley blades were made 2 years apart and not sold until 2 years after it was built. McCauley's representative that the problem might be the blades but will not replace. Has anyone been faced with a similar problem with a McCauley Prop and solved it short of buying a new replacement?
If any readers have information to help Mr. Dugan, please send us a message and we'll forward it to him.
I have been a "controller" for 22 years at Atlanta Center. I have only been a "specialist" for about 15 of those years due to the government habit of changing names and rules on a whim. The telling point about these letters (AVmail, Sep. 13, Sep. 20, and Sep. 27) is that most of the NATCA bashers are afraid to post their name because they either do not know what they are talking about, they are bitter about not getting a position or an ATC clearance that they felt they deserved, or they were caught doing many of the things they claim we do. Most "controllers" (I don't call pilots "drivers" either) are more than willing to leave our names because we are proud of what we do, and we can back up our claims. I do not suggest that what Jane Doe says does not happen on occasion, but I used to have a "real" job digging ditches and cutting trees and the same things happened in those jobs also. It serves no "good" purpose (a few bad purposes though) to paint all FAA management and employees with a wide brush when all it takes is a visit to our facility and see the truth. Come on down and I will be happy to take you through my day.
Perry M. Carswell
It seems that Jane Doe's letter (NewsWire, Sep. 9) unleashed a storm of pro and con ATC arguments. As a frequent user of the ATC system -- that it, a pilot -- I understand that ATC does what they can to fulfill our requests. One denial sends us arguing endlessly. Personally, I believe that we should get over this issue. We both have our problems, usually related to the government. Instead of going after the people truly responsible, we are at each other's throats. This needs to stop.
NORAD To Shoot Down Hijacked Airliners
AVweb wrote (NewsWire, Aug. 30):
"Meanwhile, NORAD, the North American Aerospace Defense Command, is getting used to a post-9/11 reality -- it may someday have to shoot down a passenger plane."
If our governments are willing to shoot down an airliner full of innocent people, because it probably has been hijacked by terrorists, why aren't they willing to be more aggressive in pre-emptive action against the sources of terrorism? Shooting down an airliner because it probably has been hijacked by terrorists could be considered pre-emptive defense because the intent is not known for certain.
Presidential Candidate Differences
AVweb reported recently that the results of AOPA's query to President Bush and Senator Kerry indicated there wasn't much difference between the two other than FAA privatization (NewsWire, Sep. 23). I'd like to point out another.
President Bush and Vice-President Cheney always request TFRs around them when they travel, while Senators Kerry and Edwards never do. So which team understands the danger GA poses to society better?
I really enjoyed the recent CEO of the Cockpit column, "Pilot Lounge and Politics." There were some excellent points made there and I couldn't agree more with Kevin Garrison that "flying and politics shouldn't mix." Kudos.
Garrison's writing about his colleague Toby "helping a non-pilot run for president" could not be farther from the truth, though. John Kerry is a licensed and current Commercial Pilot with an impressive list of ratings, he is current and even flies his own twin to meetings and engagements, or at least used to until recently.
(See the FAA Airman Database for John Forbes Kerry.)
It seems to me that a current and active pilot such as John Kerry is much more in tune with aviation needs than a former pilot who hung it many years ago after military service. So close to this important election, it is important that news sources such as this get the facts absolutely straight. I would very much like to see a correction on this from AVweb. Thanks, you have a great publication, I have enjoyed AVweb for many years now.
My apologies to all of you. I feel like Dan Rather. I just assumed that Kerry wasn't a pilot. A minimal amount of research would have shown that I was wrong. I also didn't know about the fact that he refused TFRs.
I won't go into the absurdity of CFIs already having "registered" with the FAA (we have a certificate -- isn't that "registration?"), but as I read the rule it simply states that CFIs are to register with their local FSDO (NewsWire, Sep. 20). Does that mean all CFIs? The way it's worded, I think that's what it means. I have a CFI. The last time I instructed was probably 1969 and I haven't been current since then, nor do I intend to become current. But, since I am a CFI I'm guessing that, according to the wording of the rule, I need to register with my local FSDO. That's absurdity in my book!
SpaceShipOne Coverage on AVweb
Congratulations! Your coverage of the flight yesterday was excellent (NewsWire, Sep. 30)! I watched the flight on the Web cast with extreme interest. I then read every detail I could find after the flight. You folks beat out publications such as the Orange County Register and CNN Interactive hands down. Keep up the great work!
Why We Fly
Perhaps with more than a modicum of truth, when I am asked this question frequently (Skywritings, Sep. 29), my response is, "It's cheaper than a psychiatrist!" At times, others who share the feeling of the delights of combat with gravity have different ideas. I've flown in mountain areas, polar areas, in storms, over oceans, in test flights and weaving among clouds; in intense situations and restful ones, outside and inside the bounds of air traffic control. I've departed from aircraft under a canopy of billowing and breathing white nylon and experienced the rush of air in a stillness of perceived non-movement while surveying the miles around me.
All the while knowing and being ever aware that the claws of gravity are waiting for the slightest misstep, I depend upon my machines and their gadgets, pamper them and listen to their complaints carefully. With and without an engine or even wings, flight is an incomprehensible joy to most of those who have delayed their gratification in recognition initially of the responsibility it entails. When I read this at first, I thought I had written it, it was so on the mark. If nothing else, it reveals a common thread of kinship that weaves throughout the tight knit aviation community. Thank you, Bob, for sharing it with us.
Regarding the Bushmaster crash in Fullerton (NewsWire, Sep. 30):
Tony Albanese, the mechanic who was onboard the Bushmaster, is one of my best friends (he keeps his tools in my hanger).
Not only did I witness first-hand the crash (I was number two for takeoff behind the Tri-Motor), I was one of the people who pulled him from the burning wreckage.
It has been impossible to keep up with all of inquiries about his condition. As a result, his friends and family have set up a Web site to keep everyone informed of his progress. A fund has also been set up for those people who wish to help Tony, his family and his fiancÚ (who is disabled). Information about the fund can be found on the Web site.
Tony is truly an outstanding individual who never hesitated to help an aviator who was in need. He is in our thoughts every waking moment of the day.
NATCA Says Unfit Controllers Forced To Work
In your recent article (NewsWire, Sep. 30), the FAA called the charge "... nonsense and typical of the union's over-the-top indictment of normal procedures at the agency." FAA spokesperson Greg Martin also said the FAA / NATCA collective bargaining agreement allowed for controllers to pay for the second test and that it was "... also normal to allow controllers to keep working while the second test is being arranged."
I thought you would be interested in reviewing the contract provisions cited by Mr. Martin:
Section 1. The Agency agrees that waivers (special considerations) to the medical certificate shall be granted on purely medical determination, and shall indicate the employee is medically qualified to perform air traffic control duties. Any limitations provided for by the waiver shall be communicated to the employee in writing. If no such limitations are imposed, this information will also be communicated to the employee in writing.
Section 6. If after initial examination, the Flight Surgeon believes that further medical evaluation or reports by selected physicians or other medical specialists are necessary to determine if the employee meets the standards, such evaluations or reports will be authorized and, if there is any cost involved, paid by the Regional Flight Surgeon. However, if an employee does not meet the retention standards, further medical evaluations or reports submitted by the employee to obtain initial or continuing special consideration by the Flight Surgeon will not be authorized or paid by the Agency. If an employee does not meet the standard, either temporarily or permanently, the medical examiner will outline for the employee, in writing, which of the medical standards have not been met. The Regional Flight Surgeon shall consider all available medical information before issuing a permanent medical disqualification.
In cases where the Flight Surgeon authorizes additional evaluations, employees may submit names of physicians or medical specialists to be considered to conduct the evaluation under this Section. Reimbursement shall not be made unless the services are authorized by the Regional Flight Surgeon.
Section 12. Employees may not perform ATC duties during any period of known physical deficiency, concurred with by the Regional Flight Surgeon, that would make them unable to meet their current medical certificate. If such conditions occur, sick leave and/or the provisions of Article 25 are authorized.
As you can see, only if a controller fails to meet the medical retention standard must he or she pay for the second evaluation to obtain an initial or continuing waiver (special consideration). If the controller is forced to pay for a second evaluation, then by definition he or she has a known physical deficiency and may not work ATC duties.
In other words, the FAA must choose between requiring the controller to pay for further evaluations to ascertain whether they meet the medical retention standards and allowing the controller to continue working ATC duties. The FAA cannot have it both ways -- but that has never stopped them from trying, or from disparaging others when issuing well-practiced denials.
NATCA Southwest Regional Vice President