AVmail: Jun. 18, 2007
Flight Service Stations
I must be the only person in the country not affected by the FSS problems (AVWebFlash, Jun. 13). I've been using DUATS since its inception because it gave me the one thing FSS never could seem to provide: just the facts, M'am, just the facts. All I ever wanted was the weather information without anyone's opinion other than my own as to whether that weather was suitable for my planned flight. I know that folks will swear that this never happens, but I have gotten the "girls briefing" too many times. The conversation goes something like this:
Me: "This is Citation N501JC, IFR, VNY to SEA. FL350. 1300Z."
FSS: "VFR is not recommended today, M'am."
Don't tell me that kind of thing never happened because it happened regularly -- although less often in recent years -- and was a total waste of time. Besides, why should I frantically try to scribble down a bunch of info when I could have a nice printout?
Linda D. Pendleton
For what it's worth, the "matrix" in a composite structure (AVwebFlash, Jun. 10) is the resin system or glue that holds it together -- not the fibers (which does seem counter-intuitive). Also, USA Today neglected to mention that carbon fiber prices were already driven way up by the manufacture of electricity-generating windmills worldwide before the current extra demand by airframe manufacturers.
Regional Airline Pilot Hiring Requirements
Your Question of the Week (QOTW, Jun. 13) highlights what I believe will be the biggest problem in future aviation: pilot shortage. There are already more jobs than pilots from a world-wide perspective, and I believe this will only get worse for the foreseeable future.
In the past, commercial-pilot ranks have been primarily filled by ex-military pilots. However, the trend toward replacement of military pilots with automation has and will continue to reduce the number of pilots from that source.
While it is alarming to think that the right-seat pilot in regional carrier flights may be short of qualifications and experience, the airline companies should be smart enough to team these new pilots with very experienced left-seat ones -- as long as they can do that. Since this is the "Bottom of the Food Chain" for airline pilots, we can expect regional flights to be the first to experience problems from lack of pilot skills.
NASA seems to think the automated pilot function will work for future private aircraft. I don't see this trend working for airline flights, but something must be done to encourage young pilots to spend the huge amount of time and money needed to become an airline pilot.
The real question is not total time, but experience and exposure to varying situations, weather, dense traffic, etc. Any new pilots hired to become Part 121 (or Part 135) crew members should have training in pilot decisionmaking as well as handling rapidly changing weather conditions and increasingly dense traffic conditions.
One method of getting this exposure and experience is a good simulator-based training course. We are routinely required to purchase our own type ratings ... maybe we should be expected to get "experience training" as well.
With a private [certificate] and 145 hours, I talked to United Air Lines in 1966. They offered me a job if I got my commercial within a year. I did and went to work in May 1967. United gave us a quickie instrument course (three weeks), new-hire DC-6 training and I flew 30 years for them. At that time United (and other major carriers) were putting 28 people every 14 days through this program. Now you want to add more hours to fly "regionals"? Dumb.
Jet Centers Not the Only Ones
AVweb wrote (On The Fly, Jun. 13),
"The Jet Center of Dallas FBO at Dallas Executive Airport (RBD) has expanded and renovated. Services for pilots include a WSI Weather and flight planning station, wireless Internet, Chrysler 300 courtesy car (with navigation system), snooze room and exercise room ..."
The Booneville, Ark., Municipal Airport (4M2) also has WSI weather and a flight-planning station, wireless Internet, a Ford Crown Vic courtesy car (with a map of Booneville on the seat), and a snooze couch. For exercise, you can walk around the hangars. Plus, our 100LL is $3.90. (I think Jet Center has us beat there.)
It is not just the big guys who have the first-class service.
Booneville Airport Commission
Looking back over the last couple of AVwebFlashes, it seems there have been some typos in the links to the Podcasts, sending readers to a broken destination page. Most likely, this crept into one of our issues and got carried forward without us noticing. We'll make a special effort to find the extra digits and kill them before our next issue goes out.
In the meantime, look back through our most recent podcasts list to see what you may have missed.