AVmail: October 11, 2010
Letter of the Week: Where the Manfacturers Stumble?
Regarding the story about Piper laying off workers:
I have been in the aircraft sales industry since 1975. Not just Piper but all aircraft manufacturers have lost sight of what they are supposed to be marketing. The manufacturers are no longer in the airframe business but have moved to the avionics business. They no longer offer affordable aircraft for those who want a single-engine, four-place, entry-level machine.
For example, when I started selling the Piper Archer, a single-engine, four-place aircraft, fully equipped in 1978, they where $38,000. Today, if you look at a new Archer, it is equipped with an avionics package that is way overkill for the aircraft's capability and starts around $300,000. It is not just Piper; it is all airframe manufacturers. The focus is on turbo-prop and single-engine jets.
Sure, you can make as much money selling one jet as you can ten single-engine aircraft. However, there are few people who can afford or fly the jet. You have to start with basic aircraft and move people up. If the manufacturers don't wake up, they might as well close the doors and look for another career right now. I know the cost of construction is up for an airframe, but why not leave some of the overkill avionics as an option and start selling aircraft again?
I moved away from the new market and went to the clean, low-time, moderately equipped used small aircraft, and there is still a market, even with the current economy. I have been a regional sales manager for an airframe manufacturer and operated my own aircraft sales company. So I have had a look at aviation from several viewpoints.
If anyone can ever get the attention of the manufacturers, the buyers are out there.
The Digital Photo Age
In regards to this post: "Photo compositing usually draws a few complaints from AVweb readers when it finds its way into the top five — but this combined shot — the diver and the eagle were two different photos — is too good to leave out of the mix":
I really feel strongly that these combined images have no place in AVweb. This is not a forum for "art" in the sense of impressionism or cubism, which can easily be done in PhotoShop. Posting these kinds of photographs puts AVweb, and the media in general, on a slippery slope. Pretty soon, when a spectacular one-shot image appears, people will immediately think, "Oh, it is probably not real."
That is the price you pay for allowing fabricated images on the site. It also reduces the impact of truly amazing images when they appear. I call to mind the images of the Jack Roush crash where the photographers in the foreground are running and dirt is flying as the jet impacts the grass. Now that was a dramatic image!
It is my opinion that allowing fabricated images diminishes your credibility. That's why most good newspapers in the country have very specific guidelines for working on photographs in PhotoShop, and why there are several instances of staff photographers being fired for not adhering to the guidelines. I recommend you stop posting fabricated images.
Solid points, Ken — and chief among the reasons we rarely run composited photos in either "Picture of the Week" or the slideshow. I might disagree a little with the notion that "POTW" photos have any bearing on the credibility of our reporting, though. (We'd never dream of running breaking news stories with the casual, jokey tone of "POTW," nor would we ever use a doctored photo alongside a news story.)
That photo "Lolly's First Flight" made my day. It made me laugh out loud seeing the excited expression on that kid's face. Priceless.
"Canada's Meigs" Is Thriving
To get Meigs Field up and operational again, public support is required.
To obtain general public support, Meigs Field should become the terminal for just one regional air carrier.
Toronto has had a waterfront airport in operation for over 50 years, and many politicians voted that it be closed. But five years ago, Porter Airlines, a scheduled airline company, started operating from there. Their dozens of daily flights have been an outstanding success. Now the public and politicians consider the waterfront airport to be of great benefit to the entire municipality.
The airport still serves general aviation.
Chicago should do likewise in order to get Meigs Fields back into operation, because it can serve the general public needs for scheduled "downtown" air transportation.
An Aircraft Is an Airplane Is a ...
Regarding the Question of the Week:
According to the online Oxford English Dictionary, an airplane is "a powered flying vehicle with fixed wings and a weight greater than that of the air it displaces." In my opinion, the first response, "anything that uses aerodynamic forces to keep itself aloft ...," does not fit that definition because it includes birds, which have folding (not fixed) wings. It also includes helicopters, which have rotary wings.
Something a lot of pilots overlook is what defined an airplane during the genesis of powered flight. If the Wright Flyer had looked more like a "standard" airplane and was introduced as a new LSA today, people would laugh and make snide remarks. Light Sport Aircraft by their very title encompass much more than just a conventional airplane. If it flies, it's an aircraft, regardless of configuration.
While I would not want a Maverick for serious traveling, it could be fun, for example, to explore the vast Southwest desert. You could fly to an interesting area, land on any level area large enough, then drive to more remote locations. Sounds like fun and could not be done with a conventional airplane.
Rest Stops Lacking
I just got back today from the Midwest LSA Expo. Airventure Oshkosh, Sun 'n Fun and now the LSA Expo provide very few places an attendee can be seated for a short rest period. Oshkosh has a few. SNF and Midwest LSA had none that I could find.
There are thousands of elderly people attending these events, and the only recourse is to bring your own folding chair or sit on your fist and lean back on your thumb (1930 remark). Get with it. I'm 84 but still flying.
Gatineau Is in Quebec
You identified Wings Over Gatineau as an Ontario (Canada) event. I had the pleaseure of attending the event, and I must point out that Gatineau is located in our sister province, Quebec, not in Ontario.
I have dealt with the European community on issues such as this in the electonics industry for years. Products within the EC flow freely between borders with no checking or regulation visible. If you try to bring something into the EC from the U.S. they scrutinize everything and deny a lot.
What this all boils down to is that the EC is a protectionist regime and institutes policies that protect or enhance markets and products, making their products less costly. The U.S. government needs to do the same thing to them. Void all European (EC) licenses and aircraft. This might, at least, get them to back down. It is a two-way street. The U.S. just doesn't have the gumption to play their game. Maybe a new Congress will do something.