AVmail: April 19, 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: Human Factors

The assertion that the Polish crew did not come under any pressure to land in poor weather is premature. While they may not have had any direct pressure in the cockpit, as may be indicated by the comments about the CVR, I wonder what happened after that other pilot defied the President and diverted from Tbilisi in 2008. If there were negative consequences, that may well have weighed on the mind of the accident crew. In addition, the importance of [the] Katyn Massacre to Poles may be a factor as well.

And, of course, all of what I have just said is speculation as well. Like any accident, we'd best wait for the investigation to be complete. I just hope the investigators dig a little deeper than pilot error. No one (or very few anyway) sets out to kill himself in an airplane. Whatever the pilots were doing, it probably made sense to them at the time. The question is, "Why?" As Sydney Dekker has said, "Human error is not an explanation. Human error demands explanation."

Cameron Fraser

First, my deepest condolences to the Polish people for their loss. I live in Chicago, so I am reminded every day of their grief.

So far, it would seem that this horrific disaster will forever serve as a reminder to all pilots not to fall prey to getthereitis. I can only hope that I never make that same mistake.

Dave Leonard


Crossing The Line

If GA pilots are causing 75-80% of incursions, isn't that pretty good? I thought we had a higher percentage of the traffic volume than that. The frequency is getting clogged with readbacks so much at our local airport that I think we are wasting an incredible amount of avgas while we wait for controllers (who often can't hear) ask pilots (who can't speak perfectly but are obviously doing the right thing) to repeat things multiple times till they get the controller's exact phraseology repeated, even if it was incorrect. The current approach is not working, and the FAA should admit it.

Dean White


Berlin Airlift

You wrote, "In 1948, the newly minted U.S. Air Force did a remarkable thing. When the Soviets blockaded land links to Berlin, the Air Force sustained the city by air for nearly a year."

I think you owe a big apology to the air crew of other nations involved. I thought it was only in Hollywood where the U.S. won the Second World War by itself.

Ian Press

AVweb Replies:

You're correct. Our apologies to the crews from Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the U.K., South Africa, and elsewhere who played a key role in the effort.

Russ Niles
Editor-in-Chief

Old Tin

I am a pilot who quit in 1996. I still am drawn to the skies, especially with old tin. I strongly suggest Ice Pilots NWT on History Television for the old tin buffs. Joe McBryan has been flying and managing this old tin for a while.

Gerry Reynolds


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