AVmail: June 24, 2013
Letter of the Week: Training for the Worst
Regarding your article on flight safety: There is another review of all the possible things that can go wrong. This is very similar to the FAA and NTSB views that have been presented for several years now.
To date, the agencies admit there has been little change in fatality rates the past ten years.
There will always be risk, and there will always be those incidents that happen in spite of all the good planning and consideration.
The accident fatality rate they hope to reduce is not going to be accomplished in this manner.
An incident occurring in flight that requires an emergency landing requires a pilot to be proficient in emergency landing techniques. No matter the cause of an incident, the accident doesn't occur until landing. Historically, more than 75 percent of emergency off-field landings touch down mid-field or beyond in the chosen landing area. Half the fatalities occur from overrunning the field. There is no requirement of proficiency in actual spot-landing touchdown.
Survival technique during an emergency touchdown roll-out is not presented.
Technique for an emergency 180-degree turn when inadvertently entering IMC is not taught well. Few pilots are trained to proficiency in this simple maneuver.
The point being, no matter the risk contemplation and consideration, if something occurs, survival depends on the ability to handle the situation. Until pilots can do this, there will be no reduction of fatalities. Possibly fewer accidents may occur if pilots are frightened enough to not fly at all, but those who do fly will still be subject to the occasional incident that requires proficiency to handle.
Thrills vs. Risk
Today I see the tragic news about wingwalker Jane Wicker and her pilot Charlie Schwenker being killed at the Dayton Air Show.
I have enjoyed the thrill of calculated risks in bush flying and in developmental flight testing. What I do not agree with is performing low-altitude aerobatics with a wingwalker. I would love to see an FAA policy refusing waivers for such shows.
What are we telling the viewers? It is certainly not a demonstration of the utility or performance of an aircraft.
I was at the Dayton Air Show and witnessed the Jane Wicker crash. It was something I didn't want to see and won't forget. Do you really think it's appropriate to put up a link to the video so we can re-live this?
Is Innovation Alive?
Regarding the "Question of the Week": Innovation in the U.S. aviation industry is dying. It looks like most of the good stuff is coming from Europe for some reason. With new GA aircraft designs, Europe wins hands down. About all we are leading in is avionics, especially the non-certified market.
I see innovation. However, most [new products] that reach market come from offshore. I still believe the U.S. has the most innovative people in the world. The difference is we are burdened by government regulatory and economical constraints which keep us from moving forward.
Inovation is a product of the human spirit.
Inovators do not wait until there is a demand for their brainchild. They do it anyway and trust that someone will come along, see their baby, love it as much as they do, and stump up the cash to see it produced.
When the fiscal climate is good, sometimes it happens. And when it's bad, well, maybe no one shows up. But innovation, like the human spirit, never switches off.
Not Enough Music
In the three-minute segment in today's AVweb, there were only two seconds where we could listen to the "music of the merlins" without a voiceover. That didn't seem right.