AVmail: Mar. 10, 2008
ADS-B and PrivacyRegarding ADS-B (AVwebFlash, Feb. 27): Am I missing something here? I'll be the first to admit that I don't fully understand ADS-B, but some parts of the program make me really nervous. Not just because of the cost to a GA pilot, but because of the extraordinary surveillance capabilities it gives the government. Your N-number, altitude and position are sent out every second? When (and it is when, not if) this is mandatory for GA aircraft, how long will it take for the government to use this as an enforcement tool? Fly too low over a wildlife area and the penalty and certificate action will be automatically generated and sent to you. Fly to "suspicious areas" or land on remote airstrips that are also used by drug runners and the FBI will show up on your doorstep. I can imagine how I could use this if I was in charge of enforcement for the FAA or DEA. With tracking information and GIS, I could make the life of a GA pilot the most controlled one in human history. Nothing would be missed and nothing would be forgiven. Much of the program has promise, but in Alaska (if my memory serves me right) most of the safety came from sophisticated GPS use, not from big-brother tracking. There is another way this could be used against pilots: retaliation against "troublemakers," i.e., people who are fighting an enforcement or other decision by the FAA or other government agency, or who just tick off someone in the FAA. First thing that would happen is that all the stored tracks of the "troublemakers" would be reviewed with a fine-toothed comb and any infraction or possible infraction would be used to intimidate and silence. Not many people will speak out once a few examples have been made. I hope I am wrong, but if not, why hasn't anybody been talking about this? I'm all for this for commercial traffic because safety overrides any privacy issues, but for private individuals ... Alan Cossitt
Foreign Nationals In Flight TrainingReally, who cares how many foreign nationals are being taught to fly in the U.S. (AVwebFlash, Mar. 3)? If they're not allowed to train here, they'll do it in another country. (Yes, other countries can train pilots too, [a fact that] your elected representatives may be surprised to learn.) This sort of scaremongering is pathetic and reprehensible, and those perpetrating it should be roundly condemned by AVweb and in every other medium. Ceri Reid
Military Foreign AircraftThe KC-30 decision by the folks in the Air Force (AVwebFlash, Mar. 2) is not as unique as one might think. Just look at the current aircraft inventory at first blush:
Pilatus PC-12 -- SwitzerlandOne might say the "foreign aircraft" are those made in the good old U.S.A. We are lucky to keep the F-22 and F-35 stateside, lest it turn into another overseas bird. Look to more "U.S." wounds when the C-130 requirement comes up and Airbus wants that also ... and then the Next Conventional Bomber bid ... one could only hope we keep the Chinese and Russian out of that manufacturing bid. Ken Strafer
T-6 Texan II (Pilatus PC-9) -- Switzerland and U.S.
H-101 (VVIP Helicopter) -- U.K. and Italy, fronted by Lockheed-Martin
C-27J -- Italy, Spain, and France
T-45 (Navy Trainer) -- U.K.
HH-65 Dolphin helicopter (USCG) -- France
KC-30 -- France, fronted by Northrop Grumman