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AVmail: March 1, 2010

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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: Privacy Before Justice

This is the state of our insane judicial system. In the story "Pilot Wins Appeal Over Health Record Disclosure," this "disabled" pilot blatantly lies multiple times on his pilot's certificate renewal paperwork so he can get what he wants, flying illegally, possibly jeopardizing innocent lives while he is taking medications.

But, when he is caught, he sues on a claim that his privacy was violated. To one federal agency, he discloses his HIV condition so that he can milk money from SSA for being disabled; to the FAA, he lies that he is perfectly healthy so he can fly.

Once you disclose info to a government agency, where is privacy? After shopping his lawsuit to enough courts, he finds one that awards him money from the government for a violation of privacy.

Terry Adams


Lead Questions

The last paragraph of the story "Embry-Riddle Tests Biofuel for Switch to Green Fleet" is a distortion of reality which provides the public a distortion of the true facts of the impact of lead in avgas. Yes, aviation fuel [use] is 190 million gallons a year, but of the overall consumption of petroleum products, it is a very small percentage.

It is small enough that the industry has a hard time justifying the effort to develop an avgas replacement. Furthermore, [regarding] your statement that avgas contributes 45 percent of the lead in the atmosphere, the only engines that currently use leaded fuel are in aircraft, and I am surprised that it is only 45 percent.

The questions are:

  1. How much did the lead in the atmosphere decrease since lead was removed from all fuels?
  2. How much of an impact to the environment is the aircraft avgas contributing with regard to human safety?
  3. What will a rush to [alternative] fuel cost, in terms of safety and price? It has been documented that $7 dollar per gallon wholesale prices will kill general aviation.

Art Ahrens

AVweb Replies:

Thanks for writing. The statement that avgas contributes 45 percent of the lead is not my opinion; that is what the EPA says.

The other issues you mention have been covered extensively on AVweb. This story was not meant to provide an analysis of the entire leaded-avgas issue but merely the news of what ERAU is up to.

You can read a recent discussion of the general leaded avgas issue here, on our blog.

Mary Grady
Contributing Editor

Depressed Pilots

Is it just me, or is anybody else wondering if maybe Joseph Stack should have been on medication but wasn't because the FAA wouldn't let him fly if he was taking antidepressants, etc.? I know there are lots of pilots out there who need psych meds that don't take them because they would be grounded!

Bobbi Frels


Cockpit Recordings

Regarding the story "NTSB: Use CVR Tapes To Check On Pilots":

Rep. James Oberstar, D-Minn., chairman of the Transportation Committee, has said such a program was the "next frontier of safety" and it "must not [be] put off."

Here's a suggestion: Why don't we install microphones in the private offices and meeting rooms of politicians to see if they are doing their jobs, how well they are doing their jobs, and any graft they are receiving?

There's enough paranoia on flight decks without 1984's Big Brother getting involved. It seems to me the Colgan Air crash is being used as an example [to drive] a wedge into this area when other factors were the culprits. If you have a completely silent flight deck, are the pilots then obeying this rule, or are they asleep? Will the next thing be sensors applied to patches on their skulls, looking for alpha and beta patterns?

But the biggest question is who will determine whether some conversation on the flight deck is okay or detrimental to flight? The last thing needed here is some ambitious, ladder-climbing suit in an office determining what is safe and what is not to make a name for him or herself.

Don Ledger


CONtrary Name

You refer to Southern California Terminal Radar Approach Center in the item about the stolen Cirrus that landed at LAX (Feb 22). Has TRACON changed to "TRACEN"?

N. W. Miller


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