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AVmail: Aug. 18, 2008

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Branson's Airport

I must have been staying in a cave somewhere that did not have wireless internet available. This is the first time I've heard of Branson's private airport (AVwebFlash, Aug. 1). Kindly tell me where it is (maybe even Lat/Long), but in particular, what business/population area it is intended to provide service for. Keep up the good works. Bill Scott

AVweb Replies:

The airport is eight miles from Branson, Mo. About $35 million was raised from individual investors (Richard Branson is not among them) and the rest is borrowed from CitiBank.

Russ Niles
Editor-in-Chief

Airspace Police

I hope your article "Controllers As Airspace Police?" is wrong (AVwebFlash, Aug. 5). If true, this could end up being a sad pissing contest. We know that controllers commit errors every day. But, unless they create a real safety problem, we don't write letters to headquarters, so to speak. As an example, it wouldn't take long for a few pilots equipped with geo-referenced MVA charts on laptop computers to spot MVA violations by controllers during IFR operations at mountain-area TRACONS. This is something the FAA should think about more rather than engaging their half-vast-idea mode. Wally Roberts
I can not believe the FAA is going to waste everybody's time busting pilots and controller's over non-life-threatening mistakes. The organization should be focused on safety issues, as their original charter suggests. Could you please organize a comment letter to the FAA that we as pilots and controllers can support through signatures or some appropriate method? I fly about 100 hours a year IFR all over the country for recreation and, based on your article, it seems any flight is a liability to either the pilot or controller. I agree with the controllers: This will only produce additional stress that our controllers do not need added to their current levels. The current system seems to work fine, so if it ain't broke, don't fix it. Chris Swanson
This is starting to border on the ridiculous! A pilot is operating in a three-dimensional environment, aviating, communicating and navigating. And dealing with all the multiple layers therein, like weather, stepped-on transmissions, and other justified deviations. Often he needs to fly first and talk or react to the controller second. Now we're going to be reported/written-up by an overworked, basically one-dimensional, radar-monitoring controller sitting an air-conditioned, non-moving, darkened room, or a person in the tower dealing with three dimensions and multiple aircraft? Has the FAA so completely lost sight of safety that they need to add additional stress to a person who is already in a high-stress environment? (I'm talking about the pilot foremost, but also the controller.) It sometimes makes me long for the days of the controllers strike under Reagan, when pilots talked to each other more, watched out for themselves and each other more, and many clearances from 40 nm out were, "Cleared for the approach, cleared to land, taxi to the ramp ..." and everybody got along fine and safely! Aviation (or anything for that matter) will never be 100-percent safe, and by heaping more and more restrictive minutia on pilots and controllers, the FAA is only adding to the problem. What time frame does a pilot have for answering a clearance? Immediately? Five seconds? Ten seconds? What if he's configuring the aircraft, should he stop in the middle of a checklist to answer, thus increasing his distraction, adding to the possibility of making a mistake in his flow? How important is the ATC call? Are there other aircraft in close proximity requiring immediate action, or is the nearest really "no factor" to some excursion? Name withheld by request
NATCA President Patrick Forrey said, "... [it] is indicative of the tyrannical and oppressive culture the FAA has created." Where has Forrey been before and since 1981? Where does he think his current controller force came from? In case he's forgotten, let me remind him: They were hired in a rush when 13,500 PATCO controllers were fired by President Regan, at the recommendation of strike breakers, Drew Lewis and J. Lynn Helms, because PATCO rebelled against the FAA's "tyrannical and oppressive" policies. It's amusing to read NATCA's continual whining and moaning about their poor work conditions and how they are mistreated by the FAA. If you look at the complaints closely, they are basically the same complaints PATCO controllers had pre-1981. I have this to say to Forrey and NATCA: "Suck it up and live with it, or have [courage] enough to do something about it, rather than continually whining. You chose the position you're in and you are getting paid very well for it these days." Edward Kingrey
I think it's interesting that this emerged right after Oshkosh. It would be interesting see what [FAA Administrator] Sturgell would have said (AVwebFlash, July 31). Some of us also see this as not only an effort to further demoralize ATC but also as an effort to drive a wedge between pilots and controllers. However, this policy is counter to the primary objective of both groups: flight safety. Art Friedman
The article treats this new policy as something we must just learn to live with. Let us not forget that it is a regulation from a federal agency of our government, not a foreign nation, and that our government is supposed to be representative of its citizens. What legislative body should we contact to direct our FAA back toward a reasonable policy of cooperation? We really don't feel like engaging in this war of idiocy, being forced to record the audio of each flight in order to preserve evidence. Do we? Donald Mirate
This part of their responsibilities is not new; we all know that a sufficient breach with ATC can produce a violation claim. What is new may be the threat of zealous punishment of controllers who let small things slide. The paperwork involved with pressing a violation can bite into the prosecutor's personal time or take away from the quality of his assigned work. Most controllers like the cooperative spirit and helpful conduct that works both ways. Most FAA aviation safety inspectors also prefer routine, smooth working that permits steady progress toward retirement. Nonetheless, it is well to be aware of this present flurry that seems to coincidentally match certain fallout from the recent SWA troubles. Don't permit this to obscure your normal attention to safe flying. Patrick Thurston

Single-Engine Jets

I just finished reading Norman Frank Gracy's comments on single-engine jets (AVmail, Aug. 4). I am quite shocked at how skittish Norman is on the idea of single-engine operations. General aviation is typically comprised of single-engine operations! I fly singles all the time. Quite frankly, the single-engine VLJs I've researched have some of the more cost-effective operating numbers around. I don't think anyone would be scared to fly in a turbojet single. At the altitudes they fly, if they had an engine flame-out or all-out failure, it would and should be something that is not the end of the world. Even if the Cirrus SJ50 had a glide ratio of 1/1 at its cruising altitude, it would be a crime not to be able to find a suitable place to land. Pilots fly passengers around in single-engine recip. and turboprop aircraft daily, and none are afraid of what happens should an engine-failure occur, because pilots are trained to deal with the situation! From what I have read, turbojet engines are far more reliable than recips. People want an economical jet, and the single is the best way to achieve that. Unless you have money to burn ... then what's another thirsty turbine to you? Robert Hasiak

Eclipse/Raburn

Sorry to learn ol' Vern got the ax (AVwebFlash, July 28). I'm perplexed how their board of directors and investors allowed Eclipse to get to this point in the very simple design and construction of what is, in my opinion, a do-nothing, go-nowhere, twin-jet. A billion-plus bucks and years later and they finally caught on? In 1963 we built and certified (in 10 months) the Learjet 23 with $12 million of our own money. I'd guess that would translate into about $120 mil today and we had a true 500-mph, eight-place airplane. That's more than $880 million short of what Eclipse has spent. (I know the Feds were not of much help but, then, they have always been a carbuncle on the ass of progress and have probably set aviation back 20 years.) What in the world happened to ingenuity? Daddy is either laughing in despair or weeping in pity. Leadership, guts, ingenuity, tenacity and a tight rein on costs are the basic elements. In my opinion, Eclipse had none of these, regrettably. So long, Vern. You're a nice guy, but, in my opinion, you don't belong in the airplane business. I wish you and Eclipse every success for the future. William P. Lear, Jr.

TSA and GA Airport Security

AVweb wrote, " 'We've worked very closely with industry to garner as much input with respect to what is operationally feasible,' TSA General Aviation Security Chief Michal Morgan told USA Today. That could also be why reaction from bizav groups is cautious instead of strident," (AVwebFlash, Aug. 13). Of course, when you first slip the noose around the horse's neck, you need to be gentle; the horse isn't supposed to notice. Then, once that horse is subdued, you can do the next one ... One of my favorite t-shirts had this saying: "If the antelope stuck together, the lions would be out of business." We in GA need to stick together, and be very wary of any more authoritarian "help." Tim Kern
Here in Florida, there is a case of two airports. One is Melbourne Intl. (MLB). If you go to the GA portion of MLB on a given weekend, you will find all hangar doors closed, few of the pilots know their neighbors or who belongs there. There is extremely tight security with card access and patrol cars on routine patrols, but it is a ghost town. Merritt Island (COI) is on the other end of the spectrum. There is a security fence around the property, but the gates are always open., All aircraft are locked, but on the weekends, all hangars are occupied, everyone knows their neighbors and who belongs there, and the security is a nightly patrol by the airport security. I ask you: Which airport would you feel the most secure at? One where everyone knows who belongs there, or the cold fortress where no one knows their neighbors? I'll tell you: I definitely prefer the one where everyone knows who belongs. The GA-SECURE system works (AVwebFlash, July 4, 2007). The growth of GA will be stopped by overzealous security forces intimidating the public from enjoying our public airports. Art Ahrens

GAMA's Optimism

Has anyone tested the theory that piston-engine aircraft are "the canary in the coal mine" of the GA economy (AVwebFlash, Aug. 8)? Large turboprops and jet aircraft are very-long-lead items in terms of sales cycles. In many cases, the corporate jets have been ordered years in advance. Deliveries of single-engine piston aircraft, on the other hand, happen relatively quickly after the purchase decision is made. I believe that the current, deepening recession is well-reflected in the down-sized piston sales figures, and the corporate deliveries will follow suit within the year. Wish it were not so, but them's the facts, ma'am. Larry Graves

New Military "Pilots"

Regarding "Some New Military 'Pilots' May Never Fly," (AVwebFlash, Aug. 10): Government (military) logic: An unmanned aerial vehicle is operated by a "pilot." An unmanned aerial system is operated by a "system operator." No flight pay, and probably less pay. Cheaper training. Davis Newman

Qantas

Regarding the Qantas 767 that had a "minor" problem where there was a hydraulic leak from the wing affecting their steering (AVwebFlash, Aug. 3): I can only assume the ailerons were affected. It was spotted by ATC as the plane took off, so there must have been a fair volume spewing from the wing. The spillage closed a runway for four hours. Qantas Spokeswoman Melissa Thompson said, "There was no safety issue at any time." Why, then, did the pilot dump fuel, turn around and land with emergency services on standby? Is Qantas hoping we all have our head in the sand? Qantas keeps on glossing over the continuing serious incidents. Speaking as a local, every regular traveler I have spoken to is changing airlines. Australians do not trust Qantas anymore. I am a frequent flyer with Qantas, but next time I fly to Perth, I'm taking Virgin Blue. Hang the flyer points. Magnus Vikingur

Oshkosh Coverage

I would just like to pass on my thanks for the great pictures and coverage of the EAA AirVenture show this year (AVweb's AirVenture 2008 Coverage). It makes me jealous that I can't go to see it in person. Keep up the good work Paul Hawkins
Your coverage of Oshkosh '08 has been awesome, but I'm missing something. When you get that many propeller heads and soft-butts in the sky, and sprinkle in some air-traffic stress, you've got to have a few "Short Finals" to pepper us with. So, cut loose and let us "sideliners" in on the fun too! P. Michael Jordan

AVweb Replies:

How about it, readers? Please send us your Oshkosh Short Finals using this link.

Kevin Lane-Cummings
Columns and Features Editor

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