AVmail: July 18, 2011
Letter of the Week: EASA's Threat to the U.S.
You highlight the fact that LSA are going to suffer under the EASA regime. Sadly, this is just one of many, many actions being taken by EASA that will damage light GA both in Europe and worldwide.
Perhaps the biggest impact will be the changes to licensing laws, which will require any resident of the European Union to have to hold a valid EASA license and ratings for the flight being undertaken. One can now fly on an FAA license in an FAA-registered aircraft anywhere in Europe (as a resident or not). We have a large number of FAA-registered aircraft in Europe operated by people that have only FAA licenses for a variety of reasons.
When this new legislation comes into force (sometime between April 2012 and April 2014), it will effectively ground a lot of people, particularly FAA instrument-rated pilots. It will also render their aircraft effectively useless. There are bound to be a large number of aircraft for sale in an already depressed and arguably saturated market, and many of these aircraft will be unsaleable in Europe as they will have modifications that are not approved by EASA and will therefore end up back in the U.S. and being dumped on the market for whatever the seller can get.
So not only will EASA destroy GA in Europe but also do potentially irreparable damage [to] the U.S. market and possibly the world market in the process. It is estimated that more than 10 percent of the European GA fleet is currently on the FAA register, probably several thousand aircraft.
Why is this happening? Well, I am not close to the detail, but from what I understand it is all about some ridiculous tit-for-tat dispute between EASA and the FAA. The issue for all of us is that this is probably the beginning of the end of GA in Europe, and it could do a lot of harm to the value of your asset in the U.S.
Imagine if the broadband folks woke up and smelled the coffee and said to themselves: "Hey, we will have fixed ground sites, precision survey-located down to the inch, all over the U.S., so why don't we develop an air nav, flight-tracking, data-support, local WX-reporting/tracking and aviation emergency (just to name a few) system across the entire U.S.?"
We could have a discrete broadcast ID for each tower site and aviation features built in. Not only would our aviation customers have broadband wireless but a highly precise low-cost digital [synthetic] navigation web that does not depend on a high-cost sensitive satellite constellation that has to be replaced.
We could also add flight tracking and automated weather monitoring/reporting stations to our closely spaced towers. This would greatly improve instantaneous local weather knowledge, which could be inserted into in-cockpit computer/iPad flight WX data streams. Also, we could add an instantaneous emergency panic button feature and have a synthetic crash ID/locator beacon function if a mishap is detected. The possibilities for aviation are mind-numbing.
If AOPA or some other flying organization became our partner, then the synthesis of in-cockpit data exchange capability and aviation professionalism would be stunning. Imagine the possibility that GPS could be made partially obsolete by our broadband system!
As a ham radio operator for almost 50 years, I can see both sides of the LightSquared/GPS issue. LightSquared has the law on its side, notwithstanding the politics of the FCC's decision to license in the first place. Simply put, almost none of the GPS devices that we have in our aircraft, cars and hand-held devices are adequately designed to prevent adjacent-channel interference. Apparently the designers could not imagine terrestrial adjacent-channel transmitters, so why spend the extra dollar or so in the design phase?
LightSquared is in the legal right as their equipment clearly follows the FCC regulations for the bandwidth they were licensed to use. Further, most existing GPS receivers simply cannot be retrofitted with filtering. Aircraft receivers with external antennas could be equipped with a filter in the antenna line, but not for the few dollars cited by LightSquared. Because there are millions of auto, truck and handheld GPS receivers and mandated GPS receivers in mobile telephones (Enhanced 911), the problem is going to require a Congressional solution.
I would recommend that Congress direct the FCC to move LightSquared's license to a different part of the spectrum and, further, to set aside the frequencies adjacent to the GPS satellites as unusable for terrestrial transmitters.
The Missing Link
I know there are many variations of tiedowns, but why did you choose to exclude the spiral tiedowns? This design allows strong capture of just about any soil, including sand. I have no idea what force would be required to overcome the "bite," but I think this alternate design would be a good comparison to the other types you choose. I'm not referring to the flimsy pet holders, but real 1/2" steel rods.
We have tested these in the past but found them unsuitable for portable tiedown use for several reasons. The first is that they are too difficult to install in hard soil. And if the soil is dry, insertion tends to disturb it so much that holding power is compromised. Second, to be at all effective, the larger spirals are required, and they are less convenient to carry than small tiedown kits. All portable tiedowns are a compromise against weight, cost, sizing and holding. The spirals wouldn't be on our list of best choices. Sorry.
Wow! What an outstanding group of photos in this issue of AVweb. While I always enjoy the selection included each Thursday, these were espectially good. Keep up the good work!
The "Photo of the Week" is not of a Beaver, but rather of a Cessna 195. The Beaver has wing struts and does not have bumps on the engine cover.
Beavers are in the eye of the beholder. We got quite a few notes about Larry Baum's winning photo and dutifully answered that the Beaver referenced in the photo isn't the C-195 on floats in the foreground it's the aircraft passing overhead.
When we eventually spoke with Larry, he admitted catching a bit of razzing in e-mail himself and wrote back: "It is, of course, a Cessna 195 on floats [but] there happens to be a Beaver in the slip next to that plane on Lake Hood! Go figure!" (And that's what we call a happy coincidence.)