AVmail: August 17, 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: Hudson Corridor
Once again, know-nothing politicians are reacting and not thinking. The two river VFR exclusions in New York have been an absolute necessity for helicopter and floatplane ops here for many years, and, as one who has spent thousands of hours in the corridor, flying floatplanes into 23rd Street and Wall Street (when it was open to us), I have strong feelings about any further regulation here. I will say this, though: Except for a fatal mid-air between an NYPD helo and a commercial floatplane in 1982, these accidents in the river have involved "out of town" amateur pilots.
These VFR exclusions are tricky, and this is recognized by the professional pilots in the NYC area who use them. I recall that at least once every year, both helicopter and floatplane pilots attended a briefing at FAA facilities to discuss new or existing procedures involving flying this airspace and the river exclusions. These meetings were invaluable for all of us as we began another busy season flying "down the river."
The only "regulation" that needs to happen here is for [someone to devise] a way to formally educate out-of-town pilots on the nature of conditions and procedures prior to allowing them to penetrate the East and Hudson River Exclusions. We should leave it to the pilot community and FAA to figure out how to really put this into effect, but it would go a long way to avoiding more of these tragedies.
You, and all discussants, have missed the point entirely. The Hudson River corridor is an artifact of ATC and the New York airports. Make Class B accessible once in a while, raise Class B to 2,000, 3,000 or something rational rather than forcing traffic into a narrow airspace. What makes Class B sacred? What makes the shape of Class B sacred? I don't fly in the New York area often, but New York ATC is difficult to deal with at best compared to someplace easy like SoCal/L.A. or Chicago. Yes, there are JFK, La Guardia and Newark, but be creative and carve out some routes, even if they are changeable routes, and provide a couple of channels that actually answer the poor flibbers and helo types.
Your August 6 issue claims that no substantial changes were made to AD 2009-16-03 as it was originally proposed. The fact is that a very substantial change was made, and I believe it was made because of numerous valid objections provided during (and after) the comments period of the NPRM.
As originally proposed, the AD would have required that all SAP Millennium investment cast cylinders with more than TBO Total Time in Service (TTIS) would have to be scrapped within 25 flight hours after the effective date of the AD. The final ruling relaxes that requirement so that overhauled Millennium cylinders running in overhauled engines, regardless of their TTIS, are permitted to be run to their next TBO, provided they continue to pass compression checks and inspections at 50-hour intervals. This change to the proposed language was a great improvement and a substantial cost-avoidance provision for those of us with recently overhauled (and thus proven crack-free) cylinders.
For once, the FAA listened attentively to reasonable objections to their proposal.
Flight 447 Questions
My understanding of the current state of explanation of the Air France disaster over the Atlantic is that the pitot tube information was bad and the flight computer knew it was bad, but without this information, the flight system was incapable of controlling the aircraft.
If the flight computer knows its onboard airspeed data is bad, can't it shift to GPS information? True, GPS will give true velocity relative to ground reference, but can't a sophisticated program go into a "special" state and cobble together last known windspeed and direction and work with a hypothetical set of numbers until the pitot heat kicks in?
Or use GPS groundspeed numbers against known engine and airframe attitude settings to arrive at a workable number?
At present, it isn't clear to me why a plane would be unable to maintain constant flight after loss of pitot information.
Todd Louis Bohlman's photo (his '69 Citabria 7GCBC in a breakfast flight with a group) shows aileron deflection and zero rudder. If this is a formation flight, it appears the Citabria is slightly out of rig. Wonder if Todd is aware?
Maybe Todd was repositioning a bit for the photo? If he wasn't aware before, he will be now.
Your photo of the Women at Oshkosh has either a serious color shift or was last year's photo. While the text says the gals are wearing blue, the photo clearly shows pink. How can that be? I recall last year they wore pink, but not this year.
Clearly our gremlins are color blind. We used last year's by mistake.
No Tunnel Vision
Looks like NASA is attempting to prove once more how a non-thinking bureaucracy functions. The lease on the Langley Wind Tunnel is running out, and it is old, so they want to tear it down. Nevermind the potential for future use and the historical value.
If they can destroy the Saturn 5 blueprints and erase the moon landing tapes, this is small potatoes. Amazing!
A number of years ago, Karl Striedick was launched on several out and return glider flights of over 1,000 miles. He was launched from his ridge-top field at Eagles Nest, Pa. using a Jeep driven by his wife. As I understand it, they used a pulley system to shorten the Jeep run. He just had to lift over the trees into the wind.
So they maybe used a cup of gasoline to go over a 1,000 miles. That comes out to something like 16,000 mpg. The problems are that there are only a few days a year you can do that and you have to launch from the right place.