AVmail: Apr. 23, 2007
Nav Canada User Fees
Your story is incomplete (AVwebFlash, Apr. 15). While there will be a 3% rate decrease, two other fees come into place for small aircraft at the same time (Mar. 1, 2008). A daily departure fee of $10 at seven airports, to a maximum of $1200 per year, will increase fees significantly for some customers. Also, NAVCAN is stepping across another line with a new fee for small jets. They are applying the daily fee and movement-based fee structure for larger aircraft to these smaller aircraft. It is aimed at the VLJ market but also captures purely recreational aircraft such as the BD5J.
Landing fees in St. Hubert (CYHU) are $10 if you arrive from another Canadian airport or place, but they double to $20 if you arrive from the U.S.
The pilots based at St. Hubert have questioned their judgment at this level to little avail.
James Le Voguer
FSS and User Fees
I'm disappointed with Lockheed-Martin for not providing the training FSS briefers need and clearing out the "deadwood" managers left over from the FAA. I've briefed people all over the country and various parts of the world from the Oakland FSS. The bottom line is training.
I have to agree with the person who wrote about the FAA being on time with its projects (AVmail, Apr. 9). Just look at the Advanced Automation System, STARS, and OASIS. Let the FAA clean up its act before asking us for more money. They could start by taking their organizational chart and eliminating all the positions with the number "2" after them.
Does anyone care that Flight Service is going down the tubes? Lockheed-Martin is closing stations and combining them into their "hubs." The equipment being used at the hubs is the new FS21 that Phil Boyer thought was the best thing since sliced bread. Guess what, Phil? It doesn't work! They have it operational and it's still a long way from being ready. We have laptops at the positions for backup so we can get weather and file flight plans via the internet. The FAA wants to pull the plug on that. (It's the FAA's contract.)
I don't know any specialist who trusts the new system. We have briefers briefing outside their area of knowledge. An east coast specialist should not be doing local briefs over the Rockies, and neither should a southwest specialist brief a local Great Lakes flight.
Another problem is many of the new developmentals (trained by Lockheed) don't understand the weather. They just read what's on the screen. Heck, for that they could've outsourced Flight Service to another country and saved money!
What we have now is a boondoggle, for lack of a better term. I wouldn't be surprised if this contract is costing more than if the government kept running the AFSSs. It's really a shame!
Name withheld by request
Simple law of supply and demand. The more the cost of something goes up (even a little) the more the demand for that service drops. As the cost of earning pilot certificates goes up, the number of students will drop. Even if user fees don't completely kill GA, production of commercial/instrument/ME pilots will certainly drop. The demand for qualified pilots is already straining the supply. I wonder where the airlines think they're going to get their new-hire pilots?
Medical Certificate Duration
Your question of the week on duration of third-class medicals assumes that everyone is in agreement that the duration should be lengthened at all (QOTW, Apr. 12). How about an option that says, "Leave it as-is"? I'm all in favor of keeping the costs of flying down, but five years is a long time to go between medicals.
Unlike sport pilots, who are limited to smaller aircraft and one passenger, private pilots with a third-class medical can fly a wide array of heavier, faster, more complicated and multi-passenger aircraft.
I realize my opinion may not be too popular among the flying community.
Time should be changed from 36 months to 24 months, and should include random -- at the airport -- drug and alcohol testing to pilots who have just landed, as they do with first-class ATPs in FAR 121 operations. Too many private pilots fly intoxicated or on medications or drugs. I've known too many of them.
Around The World Tour
Thierry Pouille of Air Journey is way more than a dollar short and a day late on his claim of a round-the-world escorted tour for private fliers (AVwebFlash, Apr. 20). A member of the American Bonanza Society did that many years ago.
I'd like to take a moment to thank Don Brown for his outstanding contribution to aviation. I've enjoyed, studied, and learned from his AVweb articles. Don's articulate descriptions of ATC operations has greatly reduced the mystery of ATC and IFR operations for me. Don, here's wishing you the best in your retirement.