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AVmail: Oct. 8, 2007

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Age 60 Rebuttal

A recent letter to the editor states that the author has been working on the Age 60 question since 1996 (AVmail, Oct. 1). My question is, "Why did you not fight the issue back in 1959 when it first came into being?" There is no one flying who did not know when they got hired that they signed a contract to retire at age 60. You should have turned the job down back then, and you would not have an issue now! Lee Allen

Alleviating Congestion, Bush's Way

The Bureau of Transportation Statistics attributes "responsibility for the delays equally between the national airspace system and the airlines (each winning 28 percent responsibility) with 38 percent attributed to rippling effects" (AVwebFlash, Sep. 29). Not knowing their definition of "system delay," I cannot rebut their numbers but I suspect that they were produced by one of those unscrupulous consulting firms that routinely ask their contracting agency, "What kind of numbers do you have in mind"? I am a retired Air Traffic Controller (So-Cal Approach) and a former Senior Operations Analyst with a firm that develops airport and airspace simulation models, most of them for the FAA. In applying these models to many airports and regions, we provided the FAA with validated data that quantified the delay or delay saving that would result from changes to airport configuration (adding a runway, for example), or from changes to arrival or departure routings. In some cases we found that arrival delays could be reduced if a greater number of airspace "cornerposts" serving major terminal areas were established or utilized. However, once inside the cornerposts, delay is directly proportional to landing capacity at the primary airport. Cornerposts are used mainly to meter the flow to the airport at a rate that does not exceed that airport's runway capacity; so adding one usually doesn't help. Without exception we found that, by a substantial margin, the single greatest contributor to delay is airport capacity. At an "air carrier airport" such as JFK or LGA, demand for runway resources (i.e., airport capacity) is a direct result of airline scheduling. Period. Secretary Peters and the FAA "hope(s) that a new system of flight patterns ... will cut delays in the Northeast by 20 percent." Ain't going to happen. Of course, figures will lie and liars will figure. The talking heads at DOT and FAA extol the virtues of RNP, ADS-B, and NextGen and point to them as the solution to the delay problem. This is all good stuff that will, if implemented properly, enhance safety and tighten up the spacing between en route aircraft a little. But decrease delay? No. Bob Merrilees

AOPA and Lockheed-Martin

Maybe Lockheed-Martin (LM) is a sponsor of AOPA because Phil Boyer is the only person who thinks privatizing Flight Service is a good thing (AVmail, Oct.1). The vaunted new system was never developed. Plan B was buying OASIS (at the time the latest Flight Service system being installed at AFSSs and competing system to FS21) but Harris wanted too much money. Now they're on Plan C, which is airline dispatch software that's inadequate for the task. The NOTAM system is in shambles. They had absolutely no idea what Flight Service did when they bid on the contract. Maybe LM is paying back the guy who was able to hoodwink the pilots into believing privatization was good. Name withheld by request

NTSB: Lack Of Weather Info Doomed Scott Crossfield

Why has nobody (NTSB included) noticed that Scott Crossfield was not instrument current at the time of his death (AVwebFlash, Sep. 27)? The NTSB report gives excruciating detail of his lack of instrument currency, with no IFR approaches in six months, and two in the previous 12 months. Is it possible that the most significant root cause of this accident is the mistake of flying IFR without recent or legal currency? What about the installed Stormscope? Why blame ATC for failing to provide minutes-old radar displays if the pilot had lightning-strike display in real time? Robert Patlovany

Roll Your Own IAPs Podcast

The audio interview with Jeppesen about RNP Special Aircraft and Aircrew Authorization Required (SAAAR) instrument approach procedures contains some inaccuracies and misleading information (Podcast, Sept. 27). RNP SAAAR, as capable as it is, is suited only for airports with significant terrain or airspace issues that will not permit LPV to a given runway end. A good example of this is the recent Bishop, Calif., RNP SAAAR IAP to Runway 30 (AVmail, Oct. 1). Contrary to a statement made by the Jeppesen representative, the Bishop approach does not require RNP of less than 0.3 nautical miles, yet it is an RNP SAAAR IAP. This is because the containment areas have no secondary areas and the RNP values are required to change differently than with panel-mount TSO-C129 or TSCO-C145/146 navigators. The bar for RNP SAAAR is necessarily set very high and today only the more robust business jet aircraft will qualify. None are yet qualified although this will change within the next year, or so. Baro VNAV is required for RNP SAAAR and at least one inertial reference unit (IRU) is required for RNP values of less than 0.3 or where RNP is required for the missed approach procedure. LPV is the practical solution for most light aircraft airports, not RNP SAAAR. But LPV won't fit unless the terrain and airspace will support an ILS to a given runway end. Many runway ends that would otherwise qualify for RNP SAAAR or LPV will fail the test if the obstacle environment between DA and the runway does not meet the FAA's stringent GQS (glide-path/slope qualification surface) requirements. And the absence of a full-length, parallel taxiway is generally a show stopper. Wally Roberts

ADS-B: Cost and Use

Do my fellow flyers understand what is being proposed with ADS-B (Question of the Week, Oct. 4)? The cost, as described in the NPRM, will be around $10,000 per plane for a Cessna 150. And the result? FAA will track your every move and now will have an automated system that will allow a bill to be sent directly to you for your flight in controlled airspace. ADS-B will allow you to fly in the same locations that today you need a "Mode C" transponder in. But now you are stuck paying another 10 grand in the first place, and then they will send you the bill for each flight after it's installed. GA: You need to wake up on this one. Jim Pratt
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