AVmail: March 19, 2009

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Each week, we run a sampling of the letters received to our editorial inbox here in AVmail. One letter that's particularly relevant, informative, or otherwise compelling will headline this section as our "Letter of the Week," and we'll send the author an official AVweb baseball cap as a "thank you" for interacting with us (and the rest of our readership). Send us your comments and questions using this form. Please include your mailing address in your e-mail (just in case your letter is our "Letter of the Week"); by the same token, please let us know if your message is not intended for publication.

Letter of the Week: Dangerous Interpretation?

Although AOPA and certain Cessna aircraft owners consider the new FAA interpretation of the definition of "current" as a good thing, I believe that this is not the case. As a NDT inspector at a repair station that performs "invasive" inspections of Cessna 441 and 425 aircraft, I can attest that the "invasive" inspection program has turned up some serious issues. A partial list would include: disbonded horizontal stabilizer structure, cracked main landing gear trunions, cracked main landing gear trailing links, cracked cabin pressure bulkheads, disbonded wing spar webs, cracked nose gear trunions, cracked horizontal stabilizer attachment bulkheads, and corrosion issues that would not normally be detected in the original inspection program.

There is a valid reason for performing the inspection. While a few owners feel that it is worth the risk to save the money that these inspections cost, most should feel that it is a potential saving in the large investment of their safety and finances.

Leonard Lentz


TSA Suggestions

If Rep. Thompson chairs the committee which has jurisdiction over the TSA, why wouldn't he tell them to simply back off rather than politely asking them to delay implementation? It must be political diplomacy, a reason I will never be found within their ranks. Either way, I'm glad someone is showing some sense in the matter.

Jud Phillips


Toxic Nanotubes?

In a news item, we are told of the benefits of carbon nanotubes in aircraft structures.

All the benefits promised unprecendented strength, high electrical conductivity (composite structures are known to have a weakness with regard to lightning strikes because of their nonconductive nature), and possible ability to be self-healing make carbon nanotubes hard to resist.

But I am worried that Mother Nature may throw a showstopper in our faces, like she did with chlorofluorocarbons and also asbestos. CFC's had so many great properties (non-flammable, non-toxic), but Ma Nature slapped our hands and said no when we found they were destroying the ozone layer. Asbestos found thousands of uses in our lives, and again Mother Nature said no when it was found asbestos fibers are carcinogenic.

So it is we may run into similar environmental showstoppers regarding carbon nanotubes. I would suggest that we take great precautions when using nanoparticles and nanotubes to keep them out of workplace atmospheres and out of our environment. Aircraft using carbon nanotubes must be subjected to appropriate recycling measures, and those who build airplanes using this material must take proper safety and environmental precautions.

I hope we don't have to forego carbon nanotubes. But we must assume from the get-go that Mother Nature will once again slap our hands and say no if we're not very careful.

Alex Kovnat


Amsterdam Crash

Your headline on the report is completely misleading, and the subsequent reporting is not much better. The inoperative radar altimeter was incidental to this crash, which resulted from three trained pilots all failing to note air speed falling below minimums a minimum need-to-know to be called an aviator. You do the industry a disservice with such reporting! What we don't know (and need to know) is why. Hopefully future reports with CVR info will give more information on why.

George Wright

AVweb Replies:

C'mon, George, that's like saying cause of death was heart failure and failing to mention the knife in the patient's chest.

Russ Niles
Editor-in-Chief

Who's Flying?

The two flying events with the greatest risk are takeoffs and landings. The recent crashes at Buffalo and Amsterdam appear to have occurred with the autopilot flying and the pilot and co-pilot as observers, unprepared to take over when their systems failed.

I'd like to hear a discussion of why the airlines feel autopilot approaches are safer than with the pilot or co-pilots, for whom they expend substantial sums on training and salaries, flying the plane.

Don Wilson


Coming or Going?

The photo of the corsairs on the carrier deck; was that photo reversed? If taken from the carrier's island then it appears the island is on the port side rather than starboard. Also look at the carriers in the background. Their islands look to be on the "wrong" side.

Rick Humphrey

Nice shot of the U.S.S. Roi. A close look at the props on the planes will show that this image has actually been printed backwards though. Great website, keep up the good work!

Ken Betts

AVweb Replies:

Our readers are definitely a sharp-eyed bunch! Rick and Ken weren't the only ones to notice the tell-tale signs of a reversed photo. But if you revisit last week's photos, you'll find that David Thomas didn't scan the original photo, but the negative itself resulting in a "flipped" image.

Scott Simmons
Webmaster, "POTW" Editor

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