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AVmail: Dec. 24, 2007

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Environmental Impact of Flying

I don't agree with any of the options you give on the "Question of the Week" about the environmental impact of GA (QOTW, Dec. 6). Having worked as a news journalist for 10 years, I know a lot about the environmental lobby. They all believe in saving the planet but most just oppose technology (and often capitalism) because they believe it is innately wrong. Their solution, therefore, is simply to stop whatever activity it is, to save the environment. The problem is many in the environmental lobby simplify the issue by concluding flying is evil. But flying surely isn't the problem, it's the emissions. It seems to me that technology is the answer, not a source of evil. If we can make super-efficient aircraft then why don't we? At the most basic level to us, it cuts our fuel bills. What they fail to realize is that being opposed to "flying" per se simply destroys the quality of life of hundred of thousands of people in GA and makes many more angry and resentful at their cause. Instead of achieving a win-win, they achieve a lot of very unhappy people who feel persecuted. So let's support the battery-powered planes, let's support the hydrogen-powered engines, let's support new, efficient, petrol engines or diesel. Much of this technology isn't ready for GA yet but it's coming. Do we really care what is under the hood, as long as we get to fly our planes? Is the only option saving the planet by sending us back to the dark ages where no "engines" are allowed, which many environmentalists actually want if they were honest? Or can we have a world where we also save the planet but we still get to enjoy the richness of aviation? I know which I'd be voting for. So my suggested answer is this: "GA can be environmentally friendly, so let's sort out the engines and fly more." Richard Midson
It was interesting to read the various perspectives on environmental impact and potential regulation of GA. I was sorry to see, however, that AVweb chose to print Walter Hawkins's note without editorial comment (AVmail, Dec. 17). We are all concerned about undue restrictions, but Hawkins's labeling of our scientists as clowns because of concern about an ice age is poorly informed. The concern was -- and still is -- that a worldwide nuclear war could trigger a temperature drop. Somehow we've managed to avoid that so far. I would like to hear Mr. Hawkins refute the current understanding of global warming, which has become so obvious that even our professional politicians can't ignore it. Jason Staloff

First Flight Anniversary

I opened my AVweb page today [Dec. 17] and was sad to see nothing written about the anniversary of the Wright Brothers first flight. I will admit that I didn't have much time last week to read AVweb, so if you mentioned the Wright's achievements last week, I missed it. Anyway, let's remember the significance of this day in the history of sustained, manned flight. Dennis Wruk

State Taxes

With all the attention to Maine taxes recently (AVwebFlash, Dec. 5 and Dec. 14), I thought some folks might be interested in my experience in Washington State. I have been in the U.S. Navy for many years and have owned an aircraft since 1980. I was transferred to a duty station in Washington in 1994, enjoying that location for four years before being transferred away. Three years later I was transferred back to Washington, but this time suffered a huge shock: New laws had been passed requiring pilot and aircraft registration ($), plus they wanted to bill me for many thousands of dollars in "use tax" simply because -- after 21 years of ownership -- my aircraft had appreciated considerably. The Washington revenue office felt they could charge me the equivalent of the sales tax on the value that hadn't been there at the time of purchase! I considered selling my aircraft or moving it back out of state, but first I appealed to every politician that I could think of. Fortunately, one of our U.S. senators promptly intervened on my behalf, though I never learned the actual basis of the change in position of the revenue office. The head of the revenue office called me personally a day or two after my email to the senator to let me know I didn't have to pay, but refused to answer my question about why the sudden change in policy. Anyhow, as they say, "Non Carburundum Illegitimi." Name withheld by request

Is That Really A Slip?

The diagram accompanying the article on cross-wind landings purports to show a right slip (Airmanship, Dec. 17). But the rudder is turned the wrong way. It should be turned to the left. K. Walter Vollmers

Air Travel Reports

Folks, be careful! Airline travel is horrible and shameful now, no doubt. (I just had a three-hour taxi out at JFK, and one week later I had a SAN-JFK flight hold so long it had to divert to Hartford to refuel), but the CAPBOR Web site might be even worse (AVwebFlash, Dec. 7). While they do point out real airline problems and offer some good airline-specific solutions, their biased, anti-business [information] -- erroneously blaming businessmen's greed for the problems -- will do us all more harm than good. You and I know that a mix of both bad airline policy and FAA regulation only exacerbates the root causes of the airline mess: a scarcity of runways and space in the "system" to handle all the passengers who want to fly because of the "greedy businessmen's" (sic) low, low prices. CAPBOR's approach will likely generate only pseudo solutions that will poorly re-regulate flying, resulting in higher prices, less safety and even more unhealthy airlines. We need a real set of solutions to the air-transportation mess, made by folks who really understand the problems, not a hysterical response from a stampeded Congress. William L. Paulin

Peak-Period Pricing

I am an ATP and A&P/IA, Citation rated, and I have extensive airline-management experience. The proposal to introduce peak-period pricing in an attempt to moderate the commercial aircraft activity around JFK (AVwebFlash, Dec. 19) simply will not work, based on my experience in Australia, especially Sydney. Sydney was the first airport that I saw to introduce peak-period pricing and, while it made the airport operator a ton of money, it has made absolutely no difference to air traffic (except, perhaps, restricting corporate activity). The airline market is demand-driven, and the product is sold for whatever price the market will bear, not what the operator would like to drive the market to pay -- simple economic theory! If peak pricing is introduced, the carriers will have to pay more, but if the passengers want to be flown during peak periods, the carriers will have no choice but to comply and offer service at those times. The fares are already as high as the carriers can take them, so fares aren't actually going to rise. If the FAA introduces rationing (allocating slots), then the supply will be limited and ticket prices may rise due to constrained supply, but this also locks out GA travel, and this defies the "equal-access" rule -- which, by the way, is fair and we should defend. The congestion on the East Coast has been caused by carriers downsizing to RJs and turboprop aircraft in order to reduce capacity, but demand has driven this to the point where the carriers must fly their small planes more to keep up, leading to excessive airspace demand. The hub-and-spoke system (rather than point-to-point) used by United and Jet Blue at JFK has created this congestion, so the answer is to get off the hub-and-spoke model and to have the carriers fly point-to-point again ... and this can be done through slot allocation. It's not an easy answer. The FAA has been slow at providing capacity (the demand issue is not new; we've all seen it coming) and the air carriers have increased the number of flights while reducing the overall numbers of available seats by downsizing aircraft and paying crews less, so the combined result is congestion. I'd like to see the FAA increase capacity by adding runways and I'd suggest that air carriers solve their own problems by using larger aircraft and flying more point-to-point. Don't lock GA out of the area: The equal-access rule has been fair since the beginning of aviation and GA is not the fault here, so don't let GA be excluded at the benefit of Jet Blue and United Airlines. Patric Barry

Uncharted Tower at Easton

It would be helpful if you gave the frequencies to ESN in addition to explaining the problem (AVwebFlash, Dec. 19): Tower frequency is 118.525. Approach frequency is 124.55 with a back up frequency of 132.775. Carl Swenson

The Future of GA Flying

There is no future for GA flying (QOTW, Dec. 20) unless the cost of simple aircraft is brought down to a level affordable by the middle class. The FAA should allow companies to market complete kits that require nothing more than simple erector-set-style assembly, not laborious fabrication, filing and fitting that takes forever and perhaps even compromises safety. If we want GA to continue, the cost has to come way down. Removing the labor and liability-insurance elements associated with completely manufactured aircraft would help That, coupled with advanced avionics that permit HITS [highway in the sky], simple, point-to-point navigation, weather avoidance, and makes avoidance of other aircraft easy, would give GA a future. But as it stands now, and in the future I foresee, current GA pilots are shrinking rapidly due to cost and those willing to incur the cost are dying. When a GA advocate like Richard Collins gives up owning his own aircraft because he can no longer justify the cost of ownership and becomes a renter, the future of GA is clear. Larre Haack
Does anyone really believe that the "everyman" flying machine is a real possibility? I personally think that it is, but if it became a reality, the skies would become just like our highways today. Traffic in and around big cities would be gridlocked and would take a highly sophisticated, computer-controlled, airspace-management device to keep the vehicles separated. There would be no "flying" as we know it, but we would only be riders. Russell N. Pound
Peak oil will soon cause the reduction in the availability and raise the cost of aviation fuels to the point we will be grounding the GA fleet. This transition will occur before 2010 and come on us rapidly. Only the super wealthy will have the financial resources to fly hydrocarbon fueled aircraft. The sailplane, the glider and the ultralights are the everyman aircraft of the future. You can count on it. Les Wiley

120 Oil

This will not be a problem for the majority of pilots. However, I fly a WWII aircraft that normally uses straight 120 oil. I have the distributors here trying to locate at least two barrels for me, but so far, no luck. One was told refiners are no longer producing 120, but said they thought 100 might be available. I may have to pour in more oil if there is no more 120. Looks as though 100LL may be headed the same direction. Bob Dunn
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