AVmail: Mar. 13, 2006
Reader mail this week about position-and-hold, VLJs, the D.C. ADIZ and much more.
Taxi Into Position and Hold -- Not!
I would like to inform you that taking away TIPH is going to cause delays (NewsWire, Mar. 9). Places like TEB airport are going to have it the worst, where staffing is way below the numbers. They cannot open up the position needed in order for the local controller to use TIPH. The delays at such airports are going to get worse.
The key element to the FAA GENOT and the change that will most affect all operations is number 3: The local control position cannot be combined with any other position.
Almost every Tower has a "local assist" position of some sort and it is almost always combined with the local control position unless traffic is busy.
Now the FAA has lowered staffing requirements at many towers (because, they say, these and other similar positions are rarely staffed and so they don't need as many controllers). Really it is because they simply don't have the bodies to put there.
So although the FAA is technically correct that all they are doing is restricting TIPH, the restrictions laid down by the GENOT essentially kill TIPH.
This will last until delays skyrocket and users complain.
Once again the FAA and the DOT have shown their true colors. Correct, there will not be user fees (NewsWire, Mar. 9). However, in the '07 budget no money has been allocated for contract towers. Not paying user fees equates to fewer and fewer services.
On TIPH: Interesting, those facilities that have problems will be granted waivers. Those not getting waivers have not had problems, but also do not have the staffing required for a waiver. So air carriers will not be impacted, but GA will. As a controller I can tell you that you, the user, will see delays.
There is an easy solution to the Washington, D.C., ADIZ (NewsWire, Mar. 6): Just dig out the maps and procedures for the Berlin Air Corridor system and use that as an example. It had a nice, round, restricted area and three corridors leading to the city. You could even cobble up the equivalent to the Berlin Air Safety Center. Except, use HSA and FAA people instead of American, British, French and Russian (always two of them) representatives.
You wouldn't necessarily want to shoot down anyone that wandered into or out of the corridors, but you could give one of the operating agencies absolute veto authority over traffic in the system. Like the Russians had.
The existence of an ADIZ almost anywhere is silly. The bad guys are already planning to break any number of rules and laws to do their mischief. Why would an ADIZ bother them? As usual, it's the law-abiding folks who get penalized by well-intentioned but wrong-headed rulemaking.
Alfred T. Phillips
One of the fundamental problems in operating in and around the ADIZ is communication, especially lack of communication (read telephone lines) in picking up ADIZ and IFR clearances.
I have been proposing an area-wide RCO (AWRCO) for at least three years. This AWRCO can be implemented by mounting repeaters on one of the towers at Greenbury Point (federal land/towers) or on one of the towers of the Bay Bridge. Such a system would result in RCO communications on the ground at more than 20 airports on the east side of the ADIZ. A similar system can be implemented on the west side of the ADIZ if a suitable tower can be found.
David F. Rogers
Russian Order To Shoot Down Hijacked Planes
We read in this week's NewsWire (Mar. 6):
You can bet Russian airline pilots are extra careful with their transponder settings these days after the government passed a law allowing hijacked aircraft to be shot down in the name of security.
I remember very well when a Boeing 747 flying the South Korean flag was shot down in cold blood by the Soviet Air Force. So while this may seem vindictive, I couldn't help but smile ironically that the philosophy that lead to the Korean 747 tragedy has now come back to haunt the Soviet airline industry.
We Americans, of course, have our own cross to bear in this regard. I remember when a naval cruiser that was given the nickname "robo-cruiser" shot down an Iranian passenger jet.
Let us hope that such tragedies do not happen again, no matter whose plane or whose air force is involved.
Thousands of Little Jets in the System
I'd like to take exception to the statement that people will avoid the hubs in lieu of smaller airports when VLJs take to the air in numbers (NewsWire, Mar. 6). Years of charter and corporate flying convince me this won't ring true. Countless times I tried to talk passengers into Meigs or Midway instead of O' Hare. Just the same with DCA (when we could go there) or IAD. Include Hartsfield of Atlanta here, too.
I think people who can afford to fly just want to use the big airports because they can and they are seen by the passengers loading and unloading as being a VIP for using the big airports. Wish I had a dollar for the times I have picked up at or dropped off at a big airport that actually put the passenger out of his way going home! Many times there was a smaller airport in his back yard and he would have missed the traffic jam in his car. Now figure in the airline connections and you'll see why I feel this way.
These VLJs won't be feasible for coast-to-coast travel. Someone on the east coast will likely be dropped off in St. Louis or Port Columbus for a cheap airline ticket to L.A. As for the GPS making smaller airports more viable, I won't be holding my breath!
James T. Foster
Are Unions Good Or Bad For The Industry?
Only someone who has never flown the line for an airline would ask such a ridiculous question.
Why do airline unions without "closed shops" have in excess of 90% membership?
Your canvass includes a majority of pilots not flying in for the airlines. Kind of like canvassing Congressmen about aviation matters ... may be interesting, but useless.
Dale A. McCombs
Auto Fuel And Ethanol
Please consider doing a follow-up story on the proposed mandatory blending of ethanol into the auto gas supplies (NewsWire, Mar. 2). In my case, I burn about 50% auto fuel in my Skyhawk, about 4,000 gals a year. At the current prices for 100LL, it amounts to a savings of over $8,000 a year. Plus the auto gas runs better in the 0-320. (Average 3,000 hours TBO on last five engines). GA might want to join forces with the boating industry on trying to convince the powers-that-be to insure availability of non -blended gas. Twenty years ago when wide-scale blending was tried a lot of expensive outboards were toasted. I was lucky; my Johnson engine would not run on the blended gas. At the outboard shop the mechanic showed me a room full of blown-up new outboards that ran long enough to burn the pistons.
One other suggestion for a story or question of the week: The numbers in your story today about the GA accident rate for last year are worthless until we know the number of hours flown by GA per year (NewsWire, Mar. 9). Currently we have only guesses. All it would take is for the AIs to list and report the previous years' hours on every inspection (just the annuals) and we would know exactly. I suspect fewer hours flown in '05 due to higher 100LL prices.
The Need For FADEC Backup
I had the pleasure to fly an experimental C182 with the SMA diesel conversion two weeks ago in Florida. One of the main benefits that was pointed out to me in the pre-test flight presentation was the ability of this engine to continue running with almost full power without any electricity supply in a special "emergency mode". I myself am a believer in the need for any aircraft engine to be able to run without electricity, since I used the master switch in an emergency to successfully stop a sudden electric fire on takeoff in a Mooney a few years ago.
Due to a sneaky failure in the charging system during the test flight with this experimental C182, electric power was progressively lost, with the SMA engine computer being affected on short final. The engine was switched flawlessly into emergency mode, and a successful landing was made. This event proved that the concept behind this engine is right. Otherwise, the airplane behaved like a normal O-470 powered 182, and was very smooth once the throttle was advanced beyond idle.
I strongly suggest to all fellow pilots considering a FADEC-controlled engine to ensure that their selection has an emergency mode that can operate without any electricity supplied to the engine.
The only remaining problem is the inability to hand-prop such an engine, but perhaps here I may be too old fashioned?
In our story on reselling helicopters (NewsWire, Mar. 6), we mistakenly placed the city of Lee's Summit in Kansas, rather than its actual state of Missouri.