AVmail: Apr. 3, 2006
Reader mail this week about anti-missile systems, aging aircraft, ATC staffing and more.
Vintage Aircraft Category
It may be worthwhile for EAA & AOPA to take a look at the French system for "orphaned" aircraft (NewsWire, Mar. 27). They are able to keep aircraft flying where the manufacturer has folded, and thus parts are no longer available. Basically, maintenance becomes owner responsibility, and is managed similar to kit built aircraft.
So a guy in Alaska, for instance, decides to opt-in on this new category with his early Cessna 180 or Stinson 108 on floats. His maintenance costs/parts costs, etc., could conceivably go down if he doesn't need to buy a PMA exhaust pipe or generator/alternator ... whatever. Would that short-term gain offset his new inability to make a few bucks flying a couple of hunters into the bush a few times a year? Or if he doesn't do any commercial flying at all, but decides he wants/needs to sell the airplane, who up there in their right mind would buy such an aircraft that can't be re-certified back into a commercial flying capable status? Tip o' the iceberg, I'd say.
I have a complaint about ATISs in general. I've not seen this addressed anywhere. As a single pilot it is most irritating to log onto the ATIS and find it giving an endless list of taxiway closures. There is no way I am going to write these down, even if it were possible. I am more interested in flying the airplane, for which I need the weather! I can worry about taxiways after I land. Meanwhile, Approach is trying to call while I am wading through all this garbage.
Thanks for your publication.
Monday's Podcast Feed Broken
Looks like there is a tiny typo in your podcast RSS feed (Podcast, Mar. 27). The RSS feed is pushing a file in /podcast/files/ while the actual file is at /podcast-files/. This makes it not able to get the file in iTunes (and presumably others).
And by the way -- what a great idea to podcast the newsletter. Is it the same as the newsletter, or different content?
You're spot-on in diagnosing the problem. We noticed the typo ourselves late Monday afternoon and send a note to the programmer who manages our feeds. We fixed the feed by Tuesday afternoon.
Speaking of which ... our plan is to do a news-heavy cast on Monday, which will probably feature a lot of the same news as our regular Monday edition of Flash. Friday's cast, on the other hand, will lean more toward features and interviews -- so you can expect to hear more exclusive content on that one. We'll remind folks of the Friday cast in our Thursday edition of Flash, but you'll want to either subscribe (as you've already done) or visit our site on Friday to pick up the link.
Glad you enjoyed our freshman effort at this. We expect things to really start rolling on the audio news during Sun 'n Fun!
I am a controller at TEB airport [Teterboro, N.J.]. There are many times where there are only two controllers in the Tower because we are short staffed, and management does not want to call in overtime to make up staffing. We are supposed to have five positions open but only have two on certain days. They usually combine Local, Ground control, and CIC [controller in charge]. The local controller should be focusing on the runways and the aircrafts in the air. With the positions combined the Local controller now has to worry about the aircraft on taxiways has well. Sometime you have controllers staying in the Tower the whole day without a break.
This is a safety issue to all the flying public. This can also cause delays and have aircraft burning fuel on the ground when they should be flying. Safety is what we should focus on, not on how much management can cut back and get away with it. The FAA is going to continue this way until the flying public has had enough or something happens.
Name withheld by request
Airliner Anti-Missile System
You really don't need to be a rocket scientist to figure out that no anti-missile system will be effective when an airliner is at low altitude, such as during takeoff and landing (NewsWire, Mar. 30). Or that an explosive bullet into the wing full of fuel could blow up an airliner with relative ease.
There is virtually no system in place in the area surrounding an airport to prevent someone from using either one of these devices to destroy an airliner.
There is ample proof that damaged airplanes can stay intact and be landed after serious damage, but until we come up with a fuel that will not explode, airplanes will be totally vulnerable to relatively simple weapons.
Will the American taxpayers again be suckered into paying billions of dollars to develop a system that will never be truly effective? President Reagan conned the Russians into thinking we could develop an effective anti-missile system. We now know that is economically impossible. But we will probably con the American taxpayer into thinking it is and waste more billions of our dollars on it.
Here we are building planes that will carry thousands of people vulnerable to a marksman with a rifle and explosive bullet.
When are we going to develop a transportation system that can travel on electromagnetic rails through a vacuum tunnel under or above ground? We could travel at Mach speeds perhaps using electricity produced by massive tidal basins driving generators?
I would be willing to pay my tax dollars for developments that could have a major effect on safety, environment, conservation, ad infinitum.
Transportation by airplanes has reached its peak. We need a modern version of the Wright Brothers.
With airliner missile defense, you have the same kind of tradeoff we have with the cars we drive.
On the one hand, we are told the world will come to an end from global warming if we don't impose draconian fuel economy requirements on the auto industry. But then, the same people tell us that if we don't also impose more and more safety requirements (which tend to increase weight, hence reduce fuel economy), traffic accidents will kill us all.
Aviation is in the same position. Given that airlines are coping with higher and higher fuel prices and also higher and higher prices for the planes themselves, we must perform a careful cost-versus-risk analysis before mandating missile defenses.
For those who want to impose requirements for missile defense on airliners as a knee-jerk reaction, here's a question to think about: Suppose the teen-age daughter of a fellow pilot were to be struck down by the propeller on her father's airplane. Would you then demand protective cages around airplane propellers, regardless of the aerodynamic loss? To say the least, you would want to think about it before deciding.
So too with missile defenses.