AVmail: Aug. 8, 2005
Reader mail this week about user fees, Homeland Security restrictions of all types, digitally modified photos and much more.
FAA User Fees
The Administrator is at it again! For months we have heard that GA pilots are facing "user fees." This time Ms. Blakey is using controllers as the excuse (NewsWire, Jul. 29). She says the salaries paid to controllers is too high and trust fund monies too low.
Well, of course trust fund monies are low. The inept manner that the FAA spends money would make any CPA scared. Billions and billions wasted on equipment that never sees the control room. Trip after trip by management personnel through out the country telling other management types how bad things are. Headquarters and regional offices in so much turmoil that no one knows what their job description is, because yesterday it was something else. The fact that the agency has nine regional offices (fully staffed, unlike most control positions) along with two headquarters buildings, a tech center and the aeronautical center is enough to dispel her threats.
The FAA does not like GA ... period. Cessnas and Cherokees get in the way of air carriers. Obviously, the C150 poses a greater security threat than does the B767. The business owner who uses his own aircraft is not as important as the FAA flunky who flies in an airliner. If this were not the case why is the Washington ADIZ still in place? Why are more and more GA being squeezed out of metropolitan airports (paid for by your tax dollars)?
Truth time. You do pay user fees. Every April 15 you pay; and with every gallon of aviation fuel you pay. Don't blame controllers for the faults of the FAA. Those making more than $200,000 do so because of excessive overtime. This year the FAA has not hired one controller ... none ... zero ... nada. Many have retired, so more and more controllers are working more and more ... and of course making more. Place any blame where it belongs ... Marion Blakey! What we need is fewer chiefs and more controllers.
James "Beamer" Bermant
Maybe we can all bill the FAA for pilot reports. After all, we are providing a service, and hey -- flying is expensive and a compulsory subsidy would certainly help in keeping current. Seems the FAA is going to be charging for information I provide and it just doesn't seem right that I can't get a piece of the pie...
With all seriousness now, I'm not too interested in paying twice (fuel tax + user fees) to fund a mismanaged bureaucracy. The FAA needs to manage itself out of this mess rather than tax and spend.
Restrictions On U.K. Nationals
I met up with Bill Allen today. He flew his Long-Eze across the Atlantic to attend Oshkosh. Unfortunately, since his aircraft is registered in the U.K., he is subject to restrictions imposed by the TSA -- Homeland Security. He has to submit his cross-country flight plans to the TSA, who then reserve the right to take seven days to do background checks before they approve them.
Like escaping Communist Russia, Bill is now safely in Free Canada rather than the restrictive U.S. What a mess your government is making, fear and control, in the Nazi tradition.
I've enjoyed flying across the U.S. many times, but how soon is your country going to restrict British foreigners like myself?
Age 60 Rule
I'd like to comment on Dr. Edward J. Kelty's letter (AVmail, Aug. 1). The FAA already has tests for pilots: I get two physicals and at least two sim/airplane checks every year, and I'm scrutinized every flight by every passenger and security screener in sight -- not to mention my own crew (with junior numbers) and briefers -- for any sign of incapacitation. I venture the opinion that no more tests are needed. If I past the tests, I'm in. If not, I'm out. A birthday has nothing to do with it.
It is also interesting to me that the FAA still talks safety and medical b.s., while -- as your NewsWire so clearly illustrates -- the real debate is about politics and money. The real merits of the issue have little if anything to do with it.
Making the Washington ADIZ (or any other one) permanent is an icon to terrorism (NewsWire, Aug. 4). To some extent it proves that terrorism or the fear of it can make significant changes in our freedoms.
Additionally, why the Washington Monument as the ADIZ's Center? No GPS waypoint there; no DME to avoid. Use DCA with a "never get closer than" mileage number! That would make it very easy to avoid an incursion. Better yet, get rid of the ADIZ.
I frankly think that the idea of using a GA aircraft as a bomb-carrying tool of Armageddon is patently ludicrous. A wack-job simply isn't going to have the wherewithal to handle any aircraft that could carry enough bomb-load to inflict any damage. They'd be able to do just as much without a bomb, in all likelihood.
I think we're way too scared of airborne terrorism. It's a damn sight easier to get a much bigger bang out of something transported on the ground, and there are a lot more available personnel capable of delivering a bomb using ground-based means.
Homeland Security isn't pursuing ground-based terrorism with as much zeal because: 1) It has no razzmatazz factor; and 2) Imposing the required amount of inconvenience on ground transport would bring the country to a screeching halt. Homeland Security can appear to be very busy securing the homeland by constantly flogging GA. In the end, securing aviation -- especially those incredibly dangerous two- and four-person aircraft -- has far less impact on the economy, and affects a minuscule number of people, compared to securing ground transportation. The great news is that no one's constituency gets gored by "securing" GA into oblivion. Those of us affected have collectively little political clout and don't fit into either party's ideology, so we're completely expendable for the sake of political expedience.
Another General Aviation Airport Lost
I live in the Rialto California area, and it was recently revealed by the Riverside Press Enterprise that the airport will be closed, and will be developed into more industrial complexes with some homes to be built on the grounds.
The flight school, sheriff's helicopter squadron and others will have to be moved to nearby San Bernardino Int'l Airport or Redlands Municipal Airport.
What a travesty this is. The Rialto City Council did nothing to promote the airport and its potential, especially the north side which had enough land to built a major manufacturing center.
Rialto Airport is going the way of Meigs field, Meadowlark Field, Mile Square, and countless others. A sad day indeed.
Digitally Modified POTW
The Navy would never have anyone on the runway during landing (Picture of the Week, Aug. 4). All personnel would be off to port or starboard. This picture shows very clearly personnel in the landing zone. A very nice shot and I wish it were me in the pilots seat.
Others First With Wing Pylon Engines
In reference to recent AVweb articles of the Honda jet with upper wing mounted engines (NewsWire, Jul. 29; AVmail, Aug. 1), one must also look at Boeing's YC-14, designed in the 1970s as a replacement for the C-130. Two were built and still exist.