AVmail: Jun. 13, 2005
Reader mail this week about the New York TRACON, flat panel displays, photo submissions and more.
The report released by the FAA has me very worried (NewsWire, Jun. 6). Here you have an agency attacking the fundamental workers of its existence. What would cause them to do this? Definitely another agenda such as setting the ground for privatization; setting up a scapegoat when something tragic does happen; or putting the worker's advocates (NATCA) out of submission during the new contract negotiations. These all can't be good things.
Also, looking at their recommendations, I found one to scare me the most: institute a sliding scale.
Sliding scale, huh? This would mean the margin of separation could vary throughout the country, yet be "safe." Making it "safe" for planes to arrive closer at busy airports but not so at others?
Imagine the headlines now "On our new scale, it is more than 'safe' for planes to come within two miles on approach at NYC, but out in Oklahoma, it is dangerous and considered an operational error." That is a very scary thought.
Maybe it's just me, but doesn't the staffing numbers they put out seem too drastic to be reasonable? Authorized 270 workers, yet they only have 220 or so on staff, and now want to reduce that to 170? Wow.
Scared to board a plane,
I would be interested in your comments concerning the NATCA response to the agency report on the issues at N90. Simply publishing NATCA's response without an examination of the report leaves an erroneous impression about the facility. I believe that the situation is serious enough for you or your staff to go beyond the self-serving and false impression left by NATCA's statement. The system is safe and your readers should know it.
We did report what the FAA said. AVweb wrote ...
... The facility is not understaffed or unsafe, the report said. "We have a scam; we don't have a safety issue," FAA spokesman Greg Martin told reporters ...
... before we reported the NATCA response. We also provided hyperlinks to both the full, 114-page report and the executive summary of the report.
In the '80s President Reagan fired all the air traffic controllers. The U.S. made it through the grief then, so why doesn't that same thing happen again by President Bush? FAA money -- isn't that my tax dollars at work paying the overtime for these lackeys? This story reminded me of the Hoffa movie I watched recently on TV. The unions were busting heads and management didn't stand up and say, "Enough is enough." Something needs to happen to get TRACON righteous and to be fair again. Has anyone turned this report into to TV news, for example ABC News' "Your Tax Dollars At Work"?
G. David Hill
Round Gauges Or Flat Panel
I didn't even offer my "vote" on this one (Question of the Week, Jun. 9). Anybody would be stupid to not like the "computer flat panel." But with this writing, I am offering my caution: This is going to keep too many heads in the cockpit and not outside! I believe in a short time we will be seeing an increase in incidents and accidents with people flying the "neat-to-watch" flat panels and running into others.
Hate to say it, but I am really concerned.
Picture of the Week Submissions
If I enter several photos at one time, are they only considered for that week or do you keep them on file for other weeks? I entered several last week hoping they would be entered for several weeks, not just last week. I can reenter them one per week if need be. I was glad to see mine as a Picture of the Week this week (POTW, Jun. 9).
That Saturn V shot was terrific. We're often leery of sunset pics (because we get so many), but the color and majesty of that grand old rocket were just too nice to pass up. Thanks for sharing.
As for the "POTW" contest, you guessed right the first time: Each week we clear out the selections and start over with a brand-new batch. Usually I download the images Wednesday afternoon so that we can start going through them.
My advice on multiple images would be to submit every other week, one at a time. Very, very rarely will we run two pics from the same contributor -- as in, we've only done it once -- so you're actually competing with yourself when you submit multiple pics. The exception, of course, would be if you have multiple angles of the same plane or event. We love that, because it allows us to select the one we like best. Plus, if your photo seems too much like another contender or a recent winner, we can sometimes squeeze you into the final round if we select a photo that's taken from a different angle.
FAA Promoting Aviation
It was interesting to read about the bill pending to make the FAA the promoter for aviation (NewsWire, Jun. 9). Maybe it will work for the airlines, but Marion Blakey and Russ Chew would like nothing better than to have GA die a quick death! They give lip service to safety while they are pushing policies that actually hurt safety; for example, privatizing flight service, not having enough aircraft inspectors, and not letting displaced flight service specialists work in towers and centers to help with the severe controller shortage. Give them a chance, and you will see user fees for GA and business aviation. But in "Blakeyspeak" there won't be user fees, but "alternate revenue streams."
It seems that user fees are becoming the big issue around the world now. South Africa has been lumped with its own version of fees that have increased massively, from paying about R200 (about $30) a year, to R200 a flight. At present the GA community is fighting back but already GA safety has been negatively affected. I fly from Cape Town International, and get charged R160 every flight just for the pleasure of entering and leaving the CTR. (I won't even mention TMA fees...) And that does not include landing fees.
Faced with these fees, some pilots compromise safety and fly in "stealth mode" to avoid the fees associated with the PTT switch.
So to GA in the rest of the world: Stand together and fight off the threats. Here in SA we are confident of winning our case in court if it goes that far, but only because the usual apathy seems to have been shocked (priced?) out of existence.
American Helicopter Society Award
Regarding man-powered helicopter flight (NewsWire, June 9):
Fred and Barney already did this years ago ...