AVmail: November 21, 2011
Letter of the Week: Online Chart Fees
With budget deficits in the trillions, no one can deny that our government has a problem with spending. So the ruckus in the aviation community because the government wants to cover its costs in producing and distributing aeronautical data seems to me a symptom of what got us here.
Everyone is for cutting the cost of government, so long as it doesn't affect their benefits. At the end of the day, that attitude will not solve our budget problems. It is hard to argue that we in aviation don't benefit greatly from the government. From the millions spent on infrastructure at the 5,000 GA airports to data, weather, FSS, ATC — the list goes on.
While we do pay for some of that with the tax on avgas, I am confident that it doesn't come close to covering the total benefit we receive. To solve the budget crisis, funding changes will have to be made. Rather than fight every proposal for change like it is the end of the world, I would encourage the flying community — and AOPA, EAA and NBAA specifically — to proactively evaluate and choose which changes are most palatable and affect the least number of users.
They should offer those up, while fighting to save [us from] those that have the most negative impact to flying. I will gladly pay another $75 per year to have IFR data if it means I can avoid user fees on every IFR flight. AOPA and EAA need to show leadership in helping to solve this problem rather than blindly objecting to every proposal. Change is coming; we can either embrace it and try to manage it, or we can be run over by it.
We got a huge response to our coverage of the FAA's plan to charge for and limit access to its online chart products. We couldn't run all of the notes, but we hope what follows is representative of opinions expressed.
I won't mind paying for charts if the fuel tax goes down to compensate. Of course that isn't going to happen, so this is just another stealth tax from big government. Time to occupy the FAA!
I've been a Jepp paper subscriber for years but now have an iPad and intend to drop my Jepp subscription. The raise in price for ForeFlight (which I intend to use) will just mean I don't save as much money. But will save in update time.
Maybe I will just quit flying. I have only owned a personal/sport plane and been a commercial/airline pilot for 40 years. They won't miss me.
I bought an iPad two weeks ago, precisely for this particular use, and subscribed to both WingX and Foreflight. Now I'm mad as hell, and I'm not going to take it anymore!
H. Paul Shuch
It seems these fees will benefit Garmin and Jeppesen, as many will put away their Android and iPad apps. We need the competition to keep data rates in check, but I'm not opposed to a very modest free. I'm an Android Galaxy Tab user.
In Defense of Instructors
In regards to Louis Hastings' letter, I have a few words back. As a type-rated multi-engine ATP with CFI, CFII, MEI and ACR privileges, I would like to say that training times have more to do with today's flying environment than the aircraft used.
Gone are the days when you fly from a grass strip in an airplane with no complicated systems. (Louis — not many people learn in C-150s anymore.) Have you even heard of NOTAMs and TFRs? Back in the days of old, no one was going to send up a fighter if you got too close to a sporting event. I invite Mr. Hastings and anyone else who thinks flight schools are milking students to open up the FARs and advisory circulars and read what a flight instructor must make sure his/her student knows before that student can solo.
Since our endorsement of said student's log book is a legal statement, ask yourself how far you are willing to stick your neck (and your family's financial well-being) out for a student in today's legal environment if you are not 100 percent certain they can repeatably perform to standard?
What is the most common statement after a student screws something up? "My instructor never taught/told me that." Don't believe me? Ask a DPE.
In response to Louis Hastings' question on training in a Taylorcraft compared to a Cessna 150 and the time it now takes to solo: As flight instructors, we have a whole litany of items to be taught to our students before they are allowed to solo.
This list of subjects to be taught can be found in the FAR's Part 61. The list is very comprehensive and is dictated by law. I have no quarrel with what needs to be taught a flight student before he is allowed to solo; I am merely suggesting this is the main reason it takes much longer to reach the goal of solo today, and it has been this way for more than three decades. It's all in the name of safety for our students as well as for the rest of our aviation community.
A Taxing Question
Your article on the suit was the first I had heard regarding any ticket taxes being collected on "private" flights, meaning non-Part 121 operations. So are ticket taxes collected on all Part 135 operations? Is the logical extension to collect on all Part 91 operations? After all, it is just transportation.
Pay by the Pound?
When are the airlines going to start selling tickets and seats by the pound? There are so many fat folks that take up most of two seats to the substantial discomfort of everyone else that something has to be done. When are they going to put in at least some large seats and make big people pay for their size and not punish the rest of us?
How about for anyone weighing more than 250 pounds, you pay for a bigger seat — five across instead of six? Too big for one seat? Then pay the 50% premium for taking half of another regular-size seat. The more you weigh, the more it costs to fly you. Pay for it.