AVmail: Aug. 20, 2007

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User Fees

As I watch the debate between GA user (?) fees or not, I am left wondering what purpose will be served. If one listens to the airlines, the company line appears to be, "Gotta have user fees ... we are paying too much ... GA is causing delays," etc.

I believe, should user fees be implemented, GA will die a quick but painful death in this country. The airline mavens in the country appear to be attempting what the railroads were trying to do around the early 1900s; that is, create a monopoly. Apparently, the airlines fear the development of the biz-jet and are attempting to eliminate the need for the biz-jet and the accompanying flexibility.

The airlines are locked into schedules, whereas a company fleet of biz-jets are not. The biz-jet operators could very easily create an "on-demand point-to-point air-taxi" service with little or no-delay. This creates a great deal of fear in airline executives' minds!

How many of you have ever heard of delays for arrivals or departures into or out of your favorite "GA" airport? Didn't think so. The airlines are creating a perception of massive delays all across the country.

If one were to research the obvious, delays occur regularly at all major metroplexs served by ... you're correct: the airlines! When the airlines schedule five, 10 or 15 aircraft to arrive or depart within the same minute, (this doesn't take a degree in rocket science) delays are going to occur. No matter how hard one tries, the effort is just not physically possible.

It doesn't help the FAA appears to be right in lock-step with them. Any of you sharp attorneys should be able to easily attack the obvious conflict of interest. The government's own accounting office (GAO) states funding is more than adequate for the foreseeable future for the FAA.

I can only hope enough pressure can be applied to steer lawmakers onto the correct path. Stop the baloney. Tell the FAA and the airlines to cease scheduling arrivals and departures in the same minute. When one considers which airports are delayed versus the total number of airports in the country ... it should become very obvious the airlines want to stack the deck, tilt the playing field, etc., in their favor. They want GA out of the sky, and the FAA is right there with them. The airlines want the skies to themselves.

Write your congressperson and your senator and tell them to cease the nonsense!

Thomas D. Dittmer


300-Knot Club

While it is definitely exciting to clock a ground speed over 300 knots, I never thought it a big enough deal to form a club nor to photograph my panel to prove it (AVwebFlash, Aug. 12). Heck, Mooneys have been doing that for decades.

Welcome to the club, Columbians! The beer is over in the corner where all those guys in Mooney caps are standing.

Harlan Ribnik


Airship Team Effort

The story is quite accurate except that it gives the false impression that I am the sole builder and pilot of Alberto (AVwebFlash, Aug. 15). In fact, my colleague Mike Kuehlmuss and I built the airship together. Also, both Mike and I received permission from the FAA to fly with passengers.

This oversight is a common one since I am typically the "front man" for our team. But I am certainly not a solo act.

Dan Nachbar


Question of the Week: PAV Challenge

I would like to comment on the latest Question of the Week about NASA funds spent on the Personal Air Vehicle (PAV) Challenge (QOTW, Aug. 13):

I voted no.

I don't think the contest was adequately advertised. In the very first CAFE Foundation competition, I came in third in my Mooney M20K -- beaten by Roy Lopresti (of Mooney) and Mike Smith (of Kansas Bonanza conversion fame). I won $100 for my effort. I was not even aware of the present contest until the owner of the 172 told me about it a few days before the contest began, even though I'm based at Charles Schultz Sonoma County airport. Sure I'm sore I didn't get a chance at the big bucks, but I also sorry that Mooney (one of the best available PAVs) wasn't represented.

Donald Minor


I felt strongly enough about the results of the PAV Challenge that I sent the following email to CAFE just this morning (before reading your QOTW). I hope it will not be dismissed quickly. I think the suggestion better addresses the industry problem.

I have a suggestion for a challenge that you may consider in the future, related to -- but different from -- the current PAV Challenge. General aviation has never enjoyed a Henry Ford-style move to mass production and this could provide incentive to move in this direction.

I would ask you to consider opening a Mass Production Personal Aircraft Challenge. The goal would be to create an aircraft with the lowest possible production cost. This might be in the Light Sport category (in the Flight Design CT or Remos G3 class) or even a normal category aircraft. You might provide a target production quantity such as 10,000 units per year initially, increasing with each challenge.

Today it takes over 1000 hours to product a typical certificated aircraft, while GM uses only 40 hours of hand labor per car, and Toyota is down to 19 hours on average. Designing for production will help get the cost down from the current $100,000 for LSAs to potentially under $50,000 per aircraft, opening a much wider market and potential for growth in the GA industry. Thank you for considering this Challenge.

Tim Busch


TFRs on the FAA Web Page

I just read the following on the FAA Web site: "Depicted TFR data may not be a complete listing. Pilots should not use the information on this website for flight planning purposes. For the latest information, call your local Flight Service Station at 1-800-WX-BRIEF."

What a joke. The FAA closed my local FSS, Anderson S.C., a couple of months ago. I now wait 10 to 30 minutes to file an IFR plan that most likely will get lost.

John Memmer


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