AVmail: March 30, 2009
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: In Perspective
I have only one thing to say regarding the ruckus JetBlue's big wig campaign is causing in our industry. General Aviation (and the NBAA in particular) need to get over themselves. The advertisements are pointed at corporate wonks who are having their use of private jets cut back and not general or business aviation. The ads are not likely to affect our sector of this industry. The damage has long been done by the numbskulls from the Big Three automakers. If you want to vent on someone, I suggest you start at the source.
This message has been brought to you by an employee of a full-service FBO whose business depends heavily on the very clientele these ads are geared to. The difference is, I have a sense of humor.
Bring Back The 152?
I have been actively involved in aviation since my first flying lesson at age 14 and am now 51 years old. Aviation is in my blood, and, like many others at my age, as an active pilot and aircraft owner, the concern about maintaining my medical and being able to continue to fly my RV-6A is always in the back of my mind.
I believe the whole genesis of the LSA industry has been primarily an attempt to have an avenue for folks like me to continue flying, if some day they can no longer qualify for their medical. I believe that is fundamentally flawed.
Cessna's most recent crash of their 162 "trainer" validates my point. Why not just step back and take a look at the entire medical certification process? Instead of trying to create an industry designed to allow folks with potential medical problems to continue flying, how about simply modifying our existing system to recognize how aviation and our pilot population is changing? Modernize the venerable Cessna 150/152 series and allow for conversion of all the Skycatcher orders over to that airframe, then build it in Wichita with the same experienced labor pool that did it the last time. Then modify the third-class medical certificate to be equivalent to a driver's license — and only for daytime, VFR only.
If you want to fly IFR (or at night, instruct, etc.), that would require a second-class medical or better. I do not fly "hard IFR" anymore and recognize that in another 10 or 15 years, I might not want to fly at night. Physically, I can easily meet the standards of a first- or second-class medical, but as time progresses and I age, I will scale back on my flying to manage risk to myself and to my passengers accordingly.
The new LSAs are wonderful, but forcing them to meet unrealistic criteria based on a pilot/buyer base that continues to diminish is short-sighted, at best. Let's look at what our system is now, make the best of it, and allow Cessna, Piper, and any others to design a safe, modern airplane — or update existing and proven airframes without being constrained by some arbitrary weight limit (T-Craft, Luscombe, et. al.). Chances are, we will not have any more Skycatchers destroyed along the way.
Yoke's on Us
Regarding the Picture of the Week caption, "My 11-month-old daughter couldn't resist getting some yolk time":
So how many people have told you there's egg on your faces?
A few, Andy, a few ... .
Babbitt as Administrator
When Randy Babbitt was president of ALPA, he started out as an Eastern Pilot. When Eastern went under, he became a Delta pilot and turned his back on his fellow Eastern pilots. I just wonder what he will do in the FAA? Probably turn his back on all pilots.
Babbitt is an airline type and not a GA person. Guess which way he will lean.
Controllers at Risk?
I was saddened to hear that Denver controllers have been "put at risk" due to the increased traffic and lower controller experience levels. What's happening — are they falling out of their chairs? Never mind the airplanes.