AVmail: June 11, 2012
Letter of the Week: It Adds Up to an Overrun
Regarding the story on the Jackson Hole overrun: With more than 15,000 hours in the B-757 I can state that it is not uncommon to have the reverse levers (one or both) tend to hang up while selecting reverse. Also, if the speed brake is not set all the way into the "armed" position, it will not activate properly on touchdown but will activate when reverse is selected. (In this case, they were unable to get it into reverse in a timely manner.) And last (a major pet peeve of mine) is the FAA's mandate that an aircraft (whether VFR or IFR) be "at or above the visual or electronic glide slope."
This has created a generation of pilots that have found "security" in being above the glide slope during approach, thus always touching down long of the touchdown mark. One only has to go to the observation deck of any major airport and count the number of jets that land on the mark. It will be less than one in 100.
These guys just got caught in a "triple whammy" of failures, one of which was pilot error.
Regarding your " Question [of the Week] " about the future of manned fighters: Drones are good platforms for the close air support mission. However, air superiority, a major mission of fighters, will most effectively be done by manned fighters because of the ever-changing combat environment.
Escalating costs of technology should be considered, but pilot training should always be fully funded. I flew the A-7D, a more advanced, computer-assisted close air support fighter than the iron sight-based A-10. But (it pains me to say it) for the close air support mission, the A-10 has proven to be the more capable weapons system for today's combat situations.
Cancelling the F-22 was short-sighted, especially when Russia unveiled its own just a couple of weeks later.
The F-35? Who wants it? It's not an air superiority fighter. As a single-engine aircraft, it is vulnerable to ground fire. The Navy would rather have aircraft with two engines. Just like the F-111, it was designed in Washington. The Holy Grail of every politician is to have one aircraft that does everything. The result is an aircraft that does nothing well.
We already own one of the most advanced fighters in the world, the F-15. We also know its limitations.
Reopen assembly lines and update [them] using lessons learned from F-35 and F-22.
Cancel the F-35. It's the modern day F-111, the search for a plane to do everything for everybody. Not possible.
The question that should be investigated before we automate any of our tactical air defense or strategic air offense with UAVs is how they function following an electromagnetic pulse event. A high-altitude nuke could render the entire fleet worthless, and I've seen nothing about these capabilities. If we put all our eggs in one basket, we better make sure it is an invulnerable basket.
No, we don't need to rethink the need for manned fighters, but in the light of today's economy, the way they are developed needs to be overhauled. The manufacturers need to share some of the fiscal responsibility.
If Lockheed or Boeing wants to build a fighter, they need to use the commercial model: Build it, prove it, and then sell it. Right now, U.S. taxpayers are just paying for the OEMs to experiment.
You went and did it. In the article about the F-22 oxygen system, you refer to it as a fighter jet.
It is a jet fighter.
Have you seen a transport jet? No! Jet transport, yes!
Have your seen a transport turboprop? No! Turboprop transport, yes. So why fighter jet?
I have no idea when the it changed from jet fighter, but most who flew and now fly them call them jet fighters.
Modern Air Tankers Exist
Regarding the story about the P2V incidents: The news media and AVweb apparently haven't discovered the new Bombardier/Canadair 415 turboprop air tankers. A fleet of these planes can deliver a lot more water to a fire than a few 747s and DC-10s that have to find a long runway somewhere.
Expensive, yes — they're new. Why pinch pennies when lives and property are at stake?
The CL-415 isn't particularly new, although you can still order them from the factory. They are expensive, more than $25 million. The first one flew in 1993, and it's an update of the round-engine CL-215, which has been around since the late 1960s.
What Would You Do?
I was really appreciative of the video showing the Lockheed P2V partial gear-up landing. I fly a Cheyenne II, and I am always debating with myself as to what I would do if I don't get three green before landing. The options are full gear-up (assuming you can raise the gear) or land with partial gear.
For me I think I would opt to fully retract the gear if possible and conditions permitting, [then] kill the engines as I cross the numbers.
What do other readers think?
I don't know why all the reports about the Neptune crash say the aircraft was built in 1962. It's an ex-RCAF CP-122 Neptune, s/n 24110, that was delivered new to Canada in 1955 and retired by the Canadian Armed Forces (as it then was known) in 1968.
Name withheld with AVweb consent
In the story about the Dana Air crash, I see you have brought up the age of the aircraft, which has nothing to do with the accident. Tragic though the loss of life is, aircraft age is immaterial as it is the maintenance and competence of the crew that is the real crux of the matter. The problem with stating age is that you encourage what I call the "used car syndrome" among government ministers, most of whom have little knowledge of aircraft.
The age of an aircraft does not make the aircraft inherently unsafe. This syndrome has India accepting aircraft that are 14 years old or newer and rejecting EASA-registered and maintained aircraft for ACMI work if they are over that age limit. Personally, I would rather fly in one of Atlantic's C-47s than a new Air India aircraft as I trust EASA maintenance more than I trust Indian [maintenance].
Some countries are now stating 10 years is too old. This behavior plays havoc with the used aircraft market and residual values of aircraft. I believe Saudi Arabia has a 20-year age limit, but after they introduced it, they lost almost all of their EASA ACMI aircraft; they then put a codicil that they would look at aircraft over 20 years old on a case-by-case basis, and they got their Hajj fleet back.
The U.S., Canada, Australia and EASA all fly aircraft older than the Dana Airways one and do it safely, day in, day out. If age were a problem, they would not be allowed to fly in the First World countries, so why do we allow the Third World to get away with it?
I would therefore ask you to refrain from stating aircraft age as a reason for incidents, as this just makes it difficult for us when trying to place aircraft into countries who should know better but are trying to cover up their lack of safety oversight using the age card. Maintenance, not age, is the key factor, along with crew training.
Next, it will be getting rid of pilots after they have flown for 15 years. This could start to get incredibly silly.
Not Really Funny
I didn't get a chuckle from the exchange between that alleged pilot and ATC. How did he pass his BFR?