AVmail: November 19, 2012
Letter of the Week: Pilot Shortage Is Real
Regardless of Sully's opinion, I have felt for over a year that the approaching age 65 deadline and the 1,500-hour requirement were going to create the perfect storm for pilot recruitment.
The cost to get to 1,500 hours for a new hire is far beyond the reach of the average wannabe. It would seem that now that the FAA has seen five years of data on those older than 60 flying that the fastest cure would be to lift the age restriction entirely and let physical condition serve as the limiting factor.
Another cure is to evaluate new hires by the type of flying that they can prove, not by a number based on towing banners up and down the beach in day VFR in SEL equipment. The Eagle guy is correct. If the regulations are not modified, there will undoubtedly be loss of service to marginal markets.
The NTSB won't be satisfied until all GA aircraft are turbine-powered, multi-engined, and piloted by professional pilots on IFR flight plans with gross weights approximately equivalent to a railroad locomotive.
Comparing GA to the airlines is like comparing cars to buses. Furthermore, the GA fatality rate is almost identical to that of motorcycles, and nothing is done about that. Helmets are not required in most states.
I think one of the overlooked culprits of accidents in GA is cost. Because of fuel and other costs, we fly less. Flying less means we're less current. I love to fly, but until I find an economical way to stay current I stay out of the cockpit.
J. D. Watson
The only way that GA can be as safe as the airlines is if we are subjected to the same restrictive regulations as the airlines are. The airlines need to follow those regulations because they are selling their services to the general public, and the services they sell need to be safe.
GA pilots are not selling their services, and they should not be regulated as the airlines. This does not mean that GA pilots don't need to try to be as safe, but they don't need to have the government looking over their shoulders all the time. They should keep themselves safe voluntarily.
Recommendations and some changes in training may be O.K., but airline-type regulations should not be forced onto GA.
Training and technology will help, but GA needs the same systematic approach that airlines, business aviation, and the military use.
Pilots need to be trained in human factors and risk management. Leadership skills are key to being a safe, competent pilot in command.
Another important component is extensive use of team resources like ATC, FSS, and the FAASTeam. Learn from others and avoid costly mistakes. Fly smart!
GA probably cannot be as safe as the airlines as we do not operate according to the [same] strict rules and procedures. Like the airlines, GA is susceptible to human failure, but unlike the airlines we depend on one human to mitigate those failures.
The result is you can control your own safety but you cannot control the other guy. Humans will continue to err. Unlike other endeavors, GA is unforgiving of brain fade.
You've done a great job with this survey, of capturing compatible and equal truths. Yes, the human cost is terrible; yes, we need to do more; no, we won't get to where the airlines are; and yes, there is super technology that might come close, but it's currently not financially viable.
The author of the owner-performed maintenance article writes: "I've always been fond of pointing out one of the most dangerous things in personal aviation is a private pilot with a #2 Phillips screwdriver."
Maybe so, but in the 15 years I owned a 182, I never had an A&P work on it without messing up something in the process, something I later had to fix — and some of them were very good mechanics.
Want to compile a list of "professional mechanic" screw-ups?
Just read your article about owner-performed maintenance. Years ago, I had a customer with a beautifully maintained Cessna 172. He would perform as much of the maintenance on the airplane as his private pilot certificate would allow. When he accomplished his first owner-performed oil change, I got a call asking me to sign off his cowling installation under my A&P certificate. Quite confused, I asked him why he needed me since this was considered preventive maintenance under FAR 43, Appendix A.
As it turns out, he is correct. The 172 air filter is part of the lower cowling removal and is not specifically called out as preventive maintenance in Appendix A. I'm sure it is one of the many oversights in the FARs but one that private pilots should be aware is an issue.
I recommend a pilot — or, better yet, a pilot group — petition the FAA under FAR 11 to review this issue to see if this could be added as preventive maintenance.
A Matter Of Scale
A one-twelfth-scale Spitfire with a wingspan of 12 feet would be a very odd bird, considering that the Spitfire had a wingspan of just under 37 feet.
Thanks to everyone who caught the math error.