AVmail: Apr. 24, 2006

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Reader mail this week about FAA/NATCA negotiations, Delta pilot negotiations, scud running and more.


Scud Runner

I used to invest in towers. I remember the first tower I had built. It was completed in Sept. '86 and just missed the Atlanta sectional revision date. It did not make the chart until the next cycle! Its construction did change a MOCA altitude so the IFR guys were alerted. I knew then that this was a potential "gotcha" for VFR guys and always advised others to not trust the chart data down low with their lives. And this was even in the days when towers were not being added as they are today. Great write up (Columns, Apr. 16), and very timely and important material.

Edward Loughlin


Scuderi Engine

Your blurb last week regarding the "new" split cycle engine (NewsWire, Apr. 13) was shockingly inaccurate.

Among many other patents for nearly the same engine, the Scuderi model is certainly not a vast improvement, nor is it particularly efficient.

Why not look at this web site?

Jeffrey Klein


Delta Strike Averted

I take exception to your characterization that "Delta pilots had already given up about $1 billion in concessions" (NewsWire, Apr. 17). From contract negotiations in 2004 Delta pilots gave up at least five billion over five years. Since then Delta pilots have given more through an interim agreement while the exact concessionary amount is negotiated. Delta Air Lines has also indicated their intention to terminate the defined-benefit retirement plan. To put this in perspective, as a percentage of the overall contract, this leaves Delta pilots with quite a bit less than half of the total amount of the original contract from 2000. Bottom line: For a senior first officer, Delta Air Lines no longer provides an acceptable living wage given the requirements of the job in education, qualifications, time, and effort. It's not "about" something, it's "beyond" something.

Mark C. Weston


Sadly yet another major U.S. airline is on the financial ropes and, as most of us have learned, Delta Air Lines has filed for Chapter 11 protection from its creditors. What makes me so irate about this situation are the concessions that Delta management has demanded from its pilots.

In late 2004 the pilots agreed to a 32.5% pay cut in a five-year deal, which should realize $1 billion dollars a year in savings for the airline. Earlier this month management demanded another 18% pay cut from the pilots. Folks, this is criminal. Are airline pilots for the major airlines well-paid? Yes they are; however, I wonder how many of us happy-go-lucky passengers knows anything about the training, cost, the hard work and very low pay some of these pilots endured to get where they are today. For example, in order to gain flight time and experience, many pilots become flight instructors and/or fly cargo for small outfits with poorly maintained equipment for little more than minimum wage. They do this because they are dedicated, hardworking people with a lofty goal in mind.

Airline pilots attend recurrent training on a frequent basis, pass regular checkrides with instructors and FAA personnel and must also pass a thorough physical every six months. There is one very important thing to remember here: These pilots aren't paid to grease the airplane onto a dry runway on a clear day using the Autoland function on the autopilot. They're paid to get you there safely on a dark night when half the electrical system has failed, traffic is congested, there's a heavy thunderstorm over the ILS approach, and the glideslope indication for the ILS has failed. That's what they're paid for and they earn every cent of it!

Perhaps upper management should be held to the same standard? I wonder how the CEO and his staff would enjoy someone critiquing his or her work on a frequent basis. Given the financial state of the company maybe this should become a reality. If a doctor finds an anomaly during a pilot's physical he/she is not only faced with the medical costs to correct the problem but also the very real possibility of losing his or her job. Again, why shouldn't upper management be held to the same standard?

How much did the CEO, CFO, COO or Whoever-O at Delta earn last year? Did any of them take a 32% pay cut? 20%? 10%? You get the picture. This isn't just about pilots. Flight attendants who are on board to keep us safe have also taken a beating. When will management wake up and realize that employees, all employees, are their most important asset and should be treated as such? Whatever happened to leadership by example? I doubt we'll see any of it in the near future. I've heard airline pilots say they'd do the job for nothing just because they love to fly. Evidently Delta management has taken them literally.

Jeffery R. Kitchen


FAA/NATCA negotiations

I'd like to make a small but extremely meaningful correction to your story about the Air Traffic Controllers contract negotiations (NewsWire, Apr. 20). You mention that "Congress has 60 days to act upon the matter or the last offer becomes the new contract." This is misleading and incorrect, and would upset any member of a bargaining unit involved in negotiating a fair contract. The truth is, at the end of 60 days, the FAA has the right to take their "last best offer" and they would then become imposed work rules. The difference being that a contract is a mutually agreed upon set of rules that were negotiated in good faith between two parties. In the case of the FAA, management knew at all times that this unfair avenue to impose work rules was available, thereby removing any incentive to negotiate in good faith. They had a big stick in their pocket and fully intended to use it.

Fortunately, there are those in the both houses of the U.S. Congress who recognize this fundamentally unfair situation and are taking steps to remedy it. There are bills with bipartisan support in both houses that would provide for binding arbitration between the parties that would guarantee a fair contract, rather than the current loophole that does not. I think AVweb has an obligation to report these facts to its readers, giving them a chance to support these bills by contacting their representatives in Congress. This is especially true since many of AVweb's readers utilize the ATC system and have a stake in the outcome of these problems.

Name withheld by request


Homefront WWII

I have begun a book on the experiences of those who were in the United States and its territories while the men in their lives -- husbands, siblings, fathers, friends -- served overseas in World War II. The working title of the book is Those for Whom They Fought.

I was inspired in this project by my and my husband's families at the time of my own mother's death. While my mother's experiences in no way match the danger and drama of my father's war years, she had important stories to tell of her own fears and hardships; challenges she could never have anticipated; personal victories and stories of success. My sister and I remember only pieces of the stories she told us; thus the bulk of her stories of WWII are lost.

My mother-in-law relives those years very often. Her life was totally unlike my mother's, and her story of the years is crucial to history. My sister-in-law was born shortly after her father left for war. She was three when she met him, and she was terrified of this man who came into her life, took her from her grandparents, and moved her and her mom from an Arkansas farm to an Iowa apartment.

My brother-in-law, the oldest of the "kids" whose story I can tell, well remembers his own mother's fears; rationing; collecting rubber and grease; playing soldier with guns made of saw dust and glue that crumbled the first time they were dropped. My favorite of his stories, though, and one with which so many who were children in those years can identify, is racing through their small community like the town crier shouting, "Bubble gum is back! Bubble gum is back!"

I also discovered early in my research that the women who taught men to fly -- who learned then taught how to land planes on aircraft carriers; who welded undercarriages and operated equipment they'd neither seen nor heard named only weeks before; who dived into the war effort with enormous enthusiasm -- these women feel that their stories have yet to be told thoroughly. They should be my next book; I am gathering their stories now.

If in any way you can help me reach any part of the population who can tell me so much of their life experiences, my thanks would be endless. We absolutely cannot lose their stories as I so carelessly lost my own mother's. Many of the women with whom I talk are already forgetting so much. Others feel the snippets they remember are unimportant. They don't realize that it is in large measure the snippets that will make this book work.

Contact me at lmowenmiller2@msn.com

Leslie M. Miller


Which Jet Do You Want?

Question of the Week is missing Adam A700 (QOTW, Apr. 20).

John Clear

AVweb Replies:

We plan to run the question again, this time with Adam in its proper place (alphabetically) at the top of the list.


Read AVmail from other weeks here, and submit your own Letter to the Editor with this form.