AVmail: Jun. 20, 2005
Reader mail this week about the New York TRACON, airliner safety, volunteers to protect planes at EAA AirVenture and more.
N.Y. TRACON and the FAA Report
I am really surprised at the report released about the abuse in the N.Y. TRACON (NewsWire, Jun. 6). I just have one think to say: They have to stop blaming the controller and look at management. Management approves all the overtime, not NATCA. So if they're approving it, must be because it is needed.
Mr. Cunningham, how do you measure safety (AVmail, Jun. 13)? How many operational errors did N.Y. TRACON have? What is the trend? What are the staffing trends over the last five years as compared to the number of operations per controller?
The FAA has a long history of being reactive. In other words, some controller will have to run two airliners together before the FAA will recognize a problem.
Yes, the FAA definitely intends to privatize ATC. Search Google to get an idea how that is another step to fleece the U.S. public. Once private, Americans are hostage to either writing a bigger, and bigger, check to the private ATC system or suffering a total shut down.
In the section, "... FAA, Airlines Defend Record" it is said that "... there hasn't been a major airliner crash in the U.S. in more than three years," (NewsWire, Jun. 13).
It has been less than three years (January 8, 2003) since Air Midwest 5481 crashed at Charlotte, N.C. (CLT) with the loss of 21 lives (NewsWire, Jan. 9, 2003). Is it the case that a Beech 1900D is not a "major" airliner?
I am a former Air Midwest Beech 1900D first officer. I was on Taxiway E adjacent to 18R awaiting departure when my captain and I heard Captain Leslie's emergency radio call. That was a major airline crash in my mind. I lost two good colleagues. I had flown with Katie Leslie. Jonathan Gibbs was in a class just a few months behind mine.
As it happens, Air Midwest 5481 was brought down by poor maintenance. Seems kind of ironic that it is first missed by the FAA in their three-year time frame, and then to have them talk about the retirement without replacement of 200 inspectors as no big deal.
Pinnacle Airlines Crash
Regarding the story about the Pinnacle Airlines crash (NewsWire, Jun. 16):
I'm a retired naval aviator; a multi-engine type who firmly believed in following NATOPS procedures. I was appalled when the senior pilot for that airline was quoted as saying, "The rest of the pilots pretty much follow the rules ..."
That relaxed-policy statement raises a few questions: Since when is "pretty much" good enough for airline pilots? Which rules are they allowed to omit or bend? Would you fly on that airline?
What does ALPA think of that policy? That's especially important since they appear to condone airline pilots flying while inebriated.
Is it Round or Flat? (Gauges, Not the Earth)
Your Question of the Week on round gauges or flat panel displays was a bit off the mark because you did not include the option "both" (QOTW, Jun. 9).
I fly with a panel that has both. I prefer the round gauges for airspeed and VSI and the flat panel for HSI and magnetic heading information. The reason is that when landing, for example, a fast glance at the position of the needle on the AI tells me instantly what I need to know. The digital readout on the flat panel requires mental translation, which is not quite as fast. Visual feedback is much faster than the digital translation.
Of course, the solid-state flat-panel HSI "gyro" does not howl nor does it fail as often as the mechanical device.
Background Checks Ground Tanker Pilots
After reading this article in AVweb (NewsWire, Jun. 13), my first reaction was that these tanker pilots are being singled out for one very simple reason: They are capable of flying an aircraft that is capable of dropping a large quantity of potential bio-terror material from a low, slow, aircraft over a very specific target. This inquiry, to me, has all the earmarks of the Dept. of Homeland Security.
All-American International Aircraft
Thank you very much for your coverage of our aircraft's certification (NewsWire, Jun. 13). Just a few points to be noted. The designer was not Jim Thorp (a famous football player with the last name of Thorpe) but John Thorp, who was the designer of over 40 different aircraft, including the Piper Cherokee line.
Secondly, at the present time, all of our aircraft are made out of components that were made in the U.S. (We had acquired all available inventory of parts to make the first two dozen or so aircraft wholly out of this stock, while we ramp up to make future parts in India -- where GA is virtually nonexistent.) Our aim is to export our aviation expertise to countries such as India and China, where only the Type Certified models are allowed to be made for local sales; and in the process, take advantage of the mass production of the sheet-metal airframe parts at lower costs of acquisition. Even Zenith Aircraft Company, and Van's Aircraft -- which are also American companies -- source parts from Eastern Europe and the Philippines. Clearly, global supply-chain processes are normal practice for most aviation companies including Lancair, Eclipse, Boeing and Airbus.
Our process is simple: The aircraft takes shape and is "born" as an airplane in the U.S., built by our people here, utilizing components made all over the world ... engines from Australia, avionics from Australia/Europe, etc. Even the parts that are "made" in India are made out of the Alcoa aluminum that we at IndUS in the U.S. have to ship out to India to have formed into parts.
I hope this helps clarify what we mean when we said we are the first U.S. manufacturer to produce an aircraft in the USA. Unlike the imports, our aircraft is made here in Dallas. Yes we will be utilizing some components that will be made in India, but the aircraft is made here.
I do not find anything incongruous in our attempts to develop GA in India and China and our striving to be a leading SLSA manufacturer in the U.S.
Ram Pattisapu, MD, President
IndUS Aviation, Inc.
World War II WASPs and Night Witches
In regards to the story about the Russian "Night Witches" being honored at the San Diego Aerospace Museum (NewsWire, Jun. 6):
Question: Has the Museum honored the 1102 American women that bore the name of "WASP" during World War II? I sincerely hope they have, and that I'm just unaware of it. Otherwise, I think it would be an egregious mistake on the part of the Museum.
The Women Airforce Service Pilots were the first females to pilot U.S. military aircraft, and they made a profound contribution to the war effort. They flew every kind of mission, except combat, in the 77 aircraft models that were in the Army Air Force's inventory from 1942 to 1945, including such planes as the P-51 and B-29.
They had to pay their own way to the airfield training base when they were accepted for training, and they even had to pay their own way back home when their service was no longer needed. Their families had to pay for their funerals, even though they were killed in the Line of Duty. They were not allowed to have an American flag draped on their coffin, and their families were not authorized to display the "Gold Star" in their window. They were not recognized as veterans and given veterans' benefits until 1977 -- 33 years after they were unceremoniously disbanded.
I suggest the Museum administrators get on the WASP Web site and also watch the PBS video presentation of "Fly Girls" to get a full understanding of the WASP and what they did.
C.A. "Clay" Wilkins
The Museum Replies:
As part of our exhibit on women in aviation history, we do feature an exhibit highlighting the accomplishments of the WASPs during the Second World War. The WASP exhibit has been a central feature of the story we tell and will be even more so as the Museum makes plans for a new gallery on women in aviation scheduled for public opening in 2007.
John H. Bolthouse, III
Vice President for Operations
San Diego Aerospace Museum
Volunteers Needed for Protect Our Planes
I am part of a volunteer group at EAA AirVenture called Protect Our Planes. Our pre-registration group is now taking applications for this wonderful opportunity -- both pilots and non-pilots alike.
The Protect Our Planes group walks the flightline to keep over-enthusiastic visitors from smoking or eating near the hundreds of aircraft brought to the show. We monitor the display aircraft (Vintage, Homebuilts, Warbirds, Ultralights, etc.) and show planes. Our service has been coined as "a cross between soft-security and concierge." The cool thing about this volunteer group is we get to talk to many of the aircraft owners and learn more about their aircraft and enthusiasm for aviation.
Our patrols begin the day before opening day (which means smaller crowds) and continue through the final day. Please join us in our efforts. Make it a family or group activity.
Volunteers must be at least 14 years of age (14-17 yrs. old are required to have a parent or guardian accompany them). Please visit our Web sites here or here for more information and registration materials.
We have openings for persons of all fitness levels, no experience necessary -- we conduct training briefings daily -- just bring your smile!
Kevin Rebman, Vice-Chairman
Protect Our Planes