AVmail: May 24, 2010
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: Who Controls Whom?
[Regarding the guest blog by Cleveland air traffic controller Jason Wilson:] Controllers are employed for the pilot's benefit. It is never the other way around. PATCO was a proving point to this fact.
This fact apparently once again needs to made clear to Wilson and the newer controllers' union, the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, that, like it or not, when a pilot declares an emergency, the pilot receives everything from ATC, no exceptions. Monday morning quarterback the incident later. Bad-mouth the pilot all you want, but that pilot is the sole reason you are in your government-protected position.
In my 50+ years of aviation, I only "requested" a different controller twice and immediately got a different voice on the radio. I don't recall any emergency that required special handling. But if I had needed special handling, I would not have taken any question or hesitation from some controller.
S. S. McDonald
I think TCM is dismissing too much of the engine market. It's great that 94UL can be used on 80 octane engines, but there are a lot around that don't fit that category. If the replacement fuel can't be burned by everyone the same way 100LL is, I don't think it's going to fly. The days of multiple grades of aviation fuel are gone. (Wish they weren't.)
An Ox by Any Other Name
Great picture, but your label "... wrangling oxen ..." is incorrect. Those are Muskox (Ovibos moschatus), not oxen.
Cold War Woopy
The origins of the Woopy-Fly may trace back to 1995, but inflatable wings were operational in 1953 as the first stealth airplanes for use in the Cold War. The air pressure in the wing was surprisingly low but sufficient for the low AIS, and the inflated wing yielded a very low radar image. There were plenty of other inflatable airplanes back then as well.
Regarding the story on drones on the Texas border: Rep. Henry Cuellar should check the Texas map. The border from El Paso along the Rio Grande goes to just east of Brownsville. Cuellar just angered the fine Texans that live in the far south of Texas. A representative from Texas should know there is good flying in the far south of Texas. It's almost like our flying in Alaska: You need an airplane to get anywhere in a timely manner.
John C. Schmitz Jr.
Regarding the story about problems with the A380 program: I think this article could need more background information on why Airbus has delivered fewer A380s than projected. The reason is not only technical but also a consequence of the economic crisis, which forced airlines to cut costs.
With the recent "adjustment" of the Euro, Airbus will have to ramp up production soon. Personally, I think the current drop of the Euro isn't temporary. It will go down even further, making Airbus planes more attractive price-wise.
Talking about termination of the A380 program would be appropriate if there were a failure comparable to the A400 program, but that's not the case. The airlines want A380s. They attract customers and help cut costs.
I am a pilot in training and work for FedEx. The question of employee status in the FAA bill is, of course, an emotional issue for me, so first — good job on a fair, unbiased story. "Level playing field" means to UPS the only way they have to cripple FedEx, because we are killing them in the marketplace. We have a business model without the crippling unions. From personal experience as a FedEx driver and countless conversations with FedEx drivers both new and old, FedEx employees do not want a union. We have a rare freedom to move from a driver job up the ladder into any FedEx position, including manager, senior manager, VP of the company, or higher. From a handler or a driver job, a UPS employee cannot do that.
There are people running FedEx who moved up just that way. The UPS driver is locked into his job. He cannot move anywhere, except to pay higher union dues. The UPS lobby in the Congress is arm twisting to cripple an American corporation that actually works. Pray that America stays free.
NOTE: Shortly after our original press deadline, Mr. Zabriskie asked us to add a note that all views expressed in his letter are his and do no represent those of Federal Express.
Willing and Able
In response to your "Question of the Week" on International Learn To Fly Day: I made the offer to eight or nine women news reporters. The only one who took me up was the youth editor of the local newspaper, who sent out a junior in high school who seemed to enjoy the opportunity — and she did a great job flying the C172 for her first flight.