AVmail: Oct. 2, 2006
Crash at Lexington
The tragedy at Lexington offers insight to a couple of areas (NewsWire, Sep. 11). The FAA can make rules in a knee-jerk reaction, but has a hard time spending the money to follow them. The FAA wants to staff to traffic, whatever that means. It should staff to safety. Which is what the Nov. 2005 order says.
Second, pilots -- when pressed to make a schedule or an EDCT time -- are fallible. Anybody who flies for a living knows that missing a departure slot assigned by ATC can result in a very long delay for the second chance. Those times are not assigned locally; they come from FAA Traffic Management Unit.
I am not personally familiar with LEX except what is on the charts. But I personally know pilots who have done the same thing as Comair 5191. Either the flight crew caught it or the controllers caught it. In both instances the pilots turned left at the intersection of Runway 22 and went on their merry way.
This is not a blame game. It is a chain of events that has happened before with one link always missing. This time, unfortunately, the chain was not broken.
The Final Demise Of The T-3A
I for one would like to say that scrapping the T-3A is a fitting end to a program that was doomed from the start (NewsWire, Sep 18). This aircraft was rammed down the throats of the Air Force by the political forces in the first Bush administration. I was involved in the competition while working for Schweizer Aircraft (SAC). We had a proposal that was superior in all aspects to the T-3A but lost the bid purely because of politics.
In the first round of competition, SAC was the only bid to meet the performance parameters required by the Air Force. A second round of competition was required with lower requirements because "at least two companies must pass the first stage in order to have a competition." SAC smelled a rat from the beginning. Nevertheless, we gave it our best shot. SAC used a SAAB Safari as a basis for the competition because there wasn't enough time to design a complete aircraft. It was to be built in America, not England like the Slingsby. It had an injected, aerobatic Continental 540 in the nose for the competition. The Slingsby didn't even have the required engine in their aircraft and offered only promises for the required performance. This is how procurement was handled back then; politics, not performance. What you end up with is junk. The taxpayer is stuck with the bill. There is no one around to blame.
Shows what happens when you let the State Department do your military acquisitions. The competition for this system was more than fulfilled by Cessna and Raytheon but was ordered to be awarded to Great Britain by State.
Years ago a product called Explosafe was introduced to solve this very problem (NewsWire, Sep. 25). According to EAA, it is still available.
In the Sep. 25 article on the Micco SP26, AVweb states that the two-place airplane is based on the Meyers 200. In fact, it is based on the Meyers 145 and very similar to that airplane. The Meyers 145 was quite rare with a production in the low twenties, I believe.
My dad owned one of these in the early '70s and I had the pleasure of flying the machine with him often. The original was a fine flyer but not robust in power with the Continental C-145 installed. The landing gear was actuated by a manually operated hydraulic system that was a bit of a challenge on climb out for the novice. However, it was reliable and worked well enough after some practice. There were said to have been around 14 airworthy at that time.
It is good to see this marvelous airplane brought back to life in modern form; it's a real beauty. I wish Micco all success.
You Missed The Best Of The CopyCubs!
Your article on "CopyCubs" forgot to mention what is probably the most affordable of all the cub clones currently on the market (NewsWire, Sep. 25). Go to North American Sport Aviation. At $56,000 dollars ready to fly, it is over $30,000 cheaper than the Legend Cub. Plus the Savage Cub comes standard with flaps. You can't even get flaps on Legend and it's an option on the Sport Cub. That is why I bought the Savage.
Question Of The Week
If all aircraft are products of compromise and the balance of those compromises determines an aircraft's market, we're going to make this very difficult. What's the most important feature of your desired aircraft (Question of the Week, Sep. 21)?
The federal government and courts especially should quit propping up failing carriers whose flawed business models and poor practice have kept them limping along like zombies (Question of the Week, Sep. 28). Foisting off retirement plans on the overwhelmed and underfunded PBGC puts the burden on you and me, the taxpayers, and it pays the employees of the failing company pennies on the dollar in the process.
At the same time, the failing companies pay their upper management huge salaries to reward their incompetence -- in one case claiming that it was necessary to retain such high quality leaders.
If we were a truly free-market, capitalist system, the weak would be allowed to merge or go away. The strong would be allowed to prosper until they made missteps or were usurped by new entrants, and the traveling public would benefit from lower fares, better choices, and less tax burden from onerous, antiquated corporate welfare programs like PBGC.
Using St. George, Utah, (SGU) as an example of the need to reduce runway crowding is a bit of a mistake (NewsWire, Sep. 28). Believe me, SGU is not crowded. You can shoot touch-and-goes 24/7 and rarely have any conflict. Local singles generally yield to any larger traffic for straight-ins. The airport is on a plateau in the center of town -- valuable real estate. The terminal is too close to the runway just like BUR [Burbank, Calif.]. The new airport will be built on the site of an older airport and will be long enough to take the Sky West (local business) regional jets. The added seat capacity will probably reduce the number of available flights for some time.
Running Rich: Cost To The Environment
Whenever I hear a comment similar to the one in this week's Savvy Aviator column ...
"A second and less obvious downside is that very rich mixtures result in 'dirty' combustion with lots of unburned byproducts in the exhaust gas. Operating this way for long periods of time tends to cause deposit buildup on piston crowns, ring grooves, spark plugs and exhaust valve stems. Do it long enough and you could wind up with stuck rings, stuck valves, worn valve guides, and fouled plugs."
... I wonder if I am the only person who thinks, "... not to mention the adverse affect on the environment, the public's perception of aviation, and the long-term availability of avgas from using fuel as a coolant"? Or am I just a bleeding-heart tree-hugger among the grizzled pelicans?
Airport Alternate Income
I was interested in the article where airports were using commercial activities to fund airport operations (NewsWire, Sep. 28).
I am from Sydney, Australia, and our main GA airport -- Bankstown -- was recently sold by the Federal Government to a consortium who say that the airport's commercial activities are subsidizing the aviation activities and have flagged higher aviation fees ... this after increasing the fees by over 300% in the past 5 years.
Obviously they want the "little" planes off the airport and are succeeding with over 800 planes gone in the last five years.
They have even closed the only north/south runway citing little use. But when the big southerlies blow, most pilots will not handle the crosswinds. They say, "Use Sydney airport." Ha! No way ATC would let us in and anyway the costs would be enormous. So much for GA in Sydney.