AVmail: August 27, 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: NTSB Had No Choice
When I was in the industry, I was a "party" on a major accident investigation involving the airline I was employed by. I was assigned to one of the investigative groups and signed a formal agreement that defined my role and set forth ground rules for participation.
I agreed that noncompliance with the agreement would result in my being removed from the investigation. One of the fundamental issues in an aviation accident investigation involves release of information, and participants agree that the Board will be the sole [recipient].
While it is regrettable that NATCA was removed from the investigation, I really don't see how the NTSB had any choice. If you allow one participant to violate the agreement, how do you stop the next one from doing the same? NATCA should have been patient and allowed the NTSB to correct their misstatement, which they did.
Martha's Vineyard TFR
Don't you think that, with the millions of dollars spent on security when the President travels, the TSA or Secret Service could station inspectors at GA airports, especially when it will be for long periods of time?
Obama should stay home if it's that unsafe. He's killing your local economy. Americans will never be safe as long as there are foreigners. Think about it.
Aviation wins if all aviation communities have an Aviators' Ball every New Year's Eve. I hope you agree and you join us for the inaugural Aviators' Ball Downtown St. Petersburg Flight 2009. Sponsor of the first annual Tampa Bay New Year's Eve Aviators' Ball is the Florida Aviation Historical Society, and the motto is "Invite All to the Ball."
Thanks for the article regarding Grace McGuire's desire to recreate Amelia Earhart's round-the-world flight attempt. I noticed you included mention of the 1967 recreation by Ann Pelegreno, but was surprised you failed to mention the very well-publicized 1997 flight recreation by Linda Finch. Finch's flight was probably seen by and influenced more people than any other since Earhart's.
I realize that this is a minor point, but, for the record, I believe that the test pilot is a member of the Canadian military and is probably on an exchange program with the Air Force.
Sharp eyes, Don. While we mentioned Maj. Brophy is a Canadian Forces test pilot in the written description of the video, we didn't cover it in the video itself. Maj. Brophy has since moved back to Canada and is stationed at CFB Cold Lake, a major Canadian Forces fighter base.
I have been flying over the Hudson River under the Class B airspace a couple times a year for nearly the last 20 years. I have always recognized the potential for a traffic conflict due to the unique nature of the area. Other than the small size of the exclusion (due to the Class B airspace and proximity to the city), I believe at least three factors contribute to the increased potential for a mid-air:
- The mix of traffic of different speeds, capabilities, and maneuverabilities, all vying for the same small volume of airspace. Specifically, the mix of helicopter and fixed-wing traffic is a major contributor to the potential for serious problems.
- The lack of published guidance regarding flight in the area. For example, "stay on the east side of the river flying northbound and on the west side flying southbound" is a ritual passed on by word of mouth. Those who do not know the existence of the informal procedures or are unable to get the "word of mouth" briefing, become a danger to themselves and to all traffic operating in the area.
- The published frequency for self-announcing on the Hudson River (123.05) is of minimal use. Most of the time, the frequency is so congested that one cannot get a word in. This doesn't prevent people from trying, and the result is a cacophony of squeals and often unintelligible chatter.
While nobody likes additional regulation, I feel the establishment of a Special Air Traffic Rules Area similar to the one in the vicinity of Niagara Falls will go a long way toward mitigating some of the issues at minimal cost. Many of the issues are common to Niagara Falls and the Hudson River, such as the proliferation of a large volume of sightseeing airplanes as well as helicopter tour operators. The Special Air Traffic Rules over the Falls have effectively separated fixed-wing traffic from helicopter traffic while allowing everyone access to the falls with minimal burden or additional cost. I have flown in the Niagara Falls Special Air Traffic Rules Area a number of times, and the requirements are extremely straightforward. Establishment of a similar area over the Hudson River would resolve the first two issues I mentioned above. Establishment of a separate frequency for helicopter tour operators (in addition to physically separating fixed-wing and helicopter traffic by altitude) would help resolve the frequency congestion issue as well.