AVmail: Sep. 1, 2008
406 MHz ELTs in CanadaWhat has not been said (AVwebFlash, Aug. 19) is that when the new rule goes into effect, all aircraft operating in Canadian airspace, with a few minor exceptions, will require a 406 MHz ELT. This will include the hundreds of American-registered aircraft that transit Canada. The trip to Alaska will get much more expensive. David Lamb
RHV AirportYour comment about Reid-Hillview Airport (RHV) in California is inaccurate (On the Fly, Aug. 18). It should say, "The County of Santa Clara backed off of the plan to close RHV," rather than saying the FAA backed off. The FAA has steadfastly supported the continued operation of RHV as a vital GA reliever to San Jose International Airport. Dan Tupper
Thanks for the correction. We fixed our online version of the story so future readers get the right information.
Features and Columns Editor
Cowl FlapsThomas Turner's article on cowl flaps came an interesting time (Leading Edge, Aug. 18). Just today I finished a lesson with my CFI, parked the plane and closed the cowl flaps per my checklist. He shuddered and said the flaps should be left open to cool the engine (and help the next renter to remember to open them for taxi). Mr. Turner says to close them. A little internet research showed several people who agreed with him, but also several who do not. Is this one of those things we agree to disagree on? Is there a definitive answer? Paul Sanders
No, like many things about flying airplanes, there's no definitive answer to your questions. Here's where I'm coming from:
Unless you have a Kansas-like wind on the ramp (that creates the low-pressure area behind the cowl-flap opening while the airplane is stationary), leaving cowl flaps open on the ground won't do anything to cool the engine after shutdown. Warm air rises, so it'll stay in the engine compartment; cool air descends, so cooling won't occur from below. Closing cowl flaps on the ground may, however, make it less likely birds will get in to build nests on the exhaust system, which could cause a fire on the next flight.
If your instructor properly trains the next pilot to use a Before Start checklist, the cowl flaps will be open again when needed.
Thomas P. Turner
TSA Damaging AirlinersThe damage wreaked by a TSA inspector on several airliners recently (AVwebFlash, Aug. 20), and the aggressive response of TSA management to criticism (turning the damage into the airline's fault, and threatening them with enforcement actions -- AVwebFlash, Aug. 22) is very distressing. From many other news items and personal experience, TSA has all the hallmarks of a police-state agency -- free to do as it wishes, anywhere, anytime, unaccountable to the targets of its actions or the public. The airlines, GA interests, airport operators, and civil-liberties groups need to push back as aggressively as TSA does. Our freedoms as citizens of what we like to think is the world's greatest democracy are at stake. Hunter Heath
The TSA should be begging forgiveness and writing a check to cover the repairs for damage done by a rogue TSA agent. How dare the agent touch any aircraft belonging to American Eagle, or anyone else for that matter, regardless where they are parked? The "agent" needs to be fired and prosecuted for the criminal damage done to the aircraft in question. This is still America, and the Constitution and Bill of Rights still apply. Destroying personal property by the Government is still criminal. What the TSA "agent" did is criminal. The TSA must remember: The agency works for us, We The People, and must act responsibly. Matt Bucko
Let me see if I understand this: TSA damages several aircraft while conducting a security inspection. The damage becomes public. TSA now will be conducting a more thorough investigation that could cost the airline a fine of $175,000. Is that correct? Should the airline have kept quiet about the damage? Is TSA acting like a school-yard bully? Who oversees TSA? This whole thing stinks. Worse, TSA is now coming after GA. "We're from the TSA and we're here to help ..." Floyd Sanderson
Hey, TSA! If you are willing to wreck the airplanes, I have a whole list of ways to get in: pry bars, snips, and torches come immediately to mind ... Tim Kern
F-35, The Cost Of An International Attack/Fighter AircraftA few comments on your story (AVwebFlash, Aug. 23): Development of the F-35 is, in fact, progressing smoothly. The government's JSF Program Office and the contractor teams both disagree with the GAO's assessment, which even by the GAO's admission was not based on current information. The latest Selected Acquisition Report, another government assessment that, unlike GAO, is based on actual program data, showed projected JSF program costs actually dropping between 2006 and 2007. The $1 trillion estimate, which follows the JSF out to its decommissioning well into the second half of this century, includes all program expenses like fuel, training, spares, maintenance, etc. Yes, the program is expensive: It's essentially three aircraft-development programs rolled into one. To execute three, separate, development programs would cost much, much more. The F-35's air-to-air combat capability will be profoundly superior to all other fighters except the F-22. Period. That includes the most advanced Russian and European designs. The F-35's very low observable (VLO) stealth ensures that the F-35 pilot will always see you first, and you'll be taken out before you're aware of the F-35's presence. The F-35 is a 9-g fighter like an F-16, F-15 or SU-35, with post-stall maneuvering ability and extremely strong acceleration. The notion that the F-35 can't dogfight does not stand up to even mild scrutiny. Halfway through its development phase, software development in the most software-intensive aircraft in history is exactly on schedule. Some other notes: The concept-demonstration contract was awarded in 1996. The JSF development contract was awarded in 2001. The nacelle-vent fans on AA-1 are unique to that particular aircraft and are not repeated on subsequent F-35s. They operate only when the airplane is on the ground. There have been no overheating issues with any F-35, including AA-1. What is often overlooked is that the very purpose of a development program is to verify predictions and identify and fix problems well before any airplanes go operational. That's exactly what we're doing, and along the way we're finding that the airplane does almost everything better than predicted. The program has had some challenges -- you would expect that on the most complex airplane ever built -- but those have been overwhelmingly outweighed by successes. John Kent
(Acting Manager, F-35 Communications, Lockheed Martin)
We're Not Delaying ADS-BThis is the second time Bob Poole of the Reason Foundation has come out to the public with another report that just doesn't make sense (AVwebFlash, Aug. 23). The first was their insistence that USER fees are the only way to go. Like Mr. Poole, I have also spent a great deal of time researching ADS-B, but my research was for a quite in-depth and lengthy thesis for graduation. And mine was unbiased and not paid for by the FAA. ADS-B, despite many claims, was from its inception supposed to include both "in" and "out" functions. Contrary to Mr. Poole's assertion that it is GA that is keeping ADS-B from being implemented, it is not our fault. Consider that the money for NextGen hasn't even been appropriated by Congress yet, and that the Senate has yet to reconcile their bills. In addition, the House and Senate still have to mate both their bills into one and vote on it. How can GA be blamed for the delay of a system that hasn't yet been funded? In addition to that, it is the FAA, not GA, with a terrible reputation for both cost and deadline over-runs. Furthermore, GA already has ADS-B "in" capabilities on most new aircraft; all the contractor needs to do is hook the ADS-B unit to the MFD. Make no mistake about ADS-B: It is software -- and a transmitter-receiver box, and an antenna for transmitting and receiving -- and nothing more (as far as an aircraft is concerned). The FAA is asking everyone to pay a greater share in this new system than in any other. GA will spend on the order of more than several hundred million if not over a billion dollars on their half of the system. That figure all depends on how much profit the company decides it wants to make, of course. The only reason it's so expensive is because it's a government project. The technology for ADS-B is here already: GPS (for more than a decade), data transmission (our Mode-C and Mode-S transponders), data receiving (some of our GPS units and Mode-S transponders). The technology is already here and has been for many years. It's not a new technology, it's a new capability all rolled into one unit. However, GA has all these capabilities with the exception of broadcasting its GPS coordinates to ATC and other aircraft. But anyone with an MFD coupled to their GPS will know that it is already possible for the GPS to send out its position. All that needs to be done is to transmit the location via datalink instead of to the MFD. Don't read government-funded reports on why the government is starting to get behind schedule on a system whose cost hasn't even been established. Read all you can about what's going on, and decide for your self. GA is not the cause of delays at airline hub airports, nor is it the cause of delays for the new system that has not been funded and has no set cost. Robert Hasiak
Homebuilts Flying Over Congested AreasThe accident of a Velocity operating out of North Las Vegas Airport has once again put GA and amateur-built aircraft in the news (AVwebFlash, Aug. 28). It has not even been a week since the accident took place and yet there are already threats to try to bring about a ban of "amateur built" or, heaven forbid, "homebuilt" aircraft from certain airports has caused a familiar problem to raise its ugly head. The problem appears to be two separate issues, both quite understandable. The first issue is, simply, shock. Anytime anyone is involved, either directly or indirectly, in a terrible accident like this one, there is a natural desire to do something. "We can't let this happen again!" is usually the emotion generated, and it's very easy to understand why. Our society has a basic tenant that says that the "accidental" loss of human life, when there may have been a way to prevent it, is unacceptable. This is a good thing; this is what drives us to continually strive to make the world around us a better and safer place. The second issue, unfortunately -- at least as far as aviation is concerned -- is usually an honest lack of knowledge by many of those involved. When the general public reads a headline such as, "Homebuilt Airplane Crashes -- 3 Dead" it conjures up images of some poor soul tying a bunch of weather balloons to a lawn chair and hollering, "Hey y'all, watch this!" As anyone who is involved in any facet of aviation knows, nothing could be further from the truth. With only six days past since the accident it's hard to believe that an actual cause has been determined. While the flight was reported to have been part of the aircraft's flight testing, it's far too soon to attribute the cause of the crash and subsequent loss of life to the fact that the aircraft was not built in a factory, but by an individual. What's really hard to believe about this accident, though, is that someone who is actually part of the aviation community would offer such a knee-jerk reaction as that offered by Clark County Aviation Director Randy Walker. Mr. Walker would apparently fall into the group of folks I mentioned who simply have an honest lack of knowledge of GA and of amateur-built aircraft. When one looks at the facts, there's just no way to substantiate his comment. Both GA and amateur-built aircraft have a great safety record. Labeling normal, everyday aircraft operations such as "training and solo flights" as "high risk" leaves one to think his experience level may be on the short side. As a pilot, and a former FBO owner, I can tell you that I would much rather have a student in an old Cessna 150, or a pilot in his amateur-built aircraft, shooting touch-and-goes all day long than have one bulletproof "professional" pushing the envelope and trying to squeak in under minimums in his "factory-built," turbine-powered spam can. Mr. Walker's desire to have Congress intervene and bar a particular segment of aviation from using particular airports, solely based on his assessment of who might be "high risk," would appear to be nothing more than misleading the public. With all the restrictions we've had to place on ourselves the past few years due to security reasons, theft, drugs, and the list goes on, the shotgun approach is a pretty bad plan. I would suggest that we, the aviation community, follow this report closely. If, indeed, Mr. Walker does beseech Congress to limit our ability to use certain airports, we should see that Congress is given the factual data, not the flying-lawn-chair scenario. Then I would suggest that we go back and address the first part of the problem I mentioned above: What caused this particular accident, and what can we do to see that it doesn't happen again? Jon Aldridge
If Randy Walker's premise is correct, then the next step should be to have all wheeled-vehicle new drivers taken to a rural area to learn and hone their driving skills. God help the cows. Harvey Ellis
Your article and this Question of the Week (QOTW, Aug. 28) missed the rules already protecting congested areas:
- Permission from the airport manager must be obtained.
- The FAA defines and signs off the practice area to fly off the first 40 hours.
The NTSB and FAA are just starting the investigation, so we won't know much for a while. That said, perhaps some other aircraft builders (and testers) can chime in on this: Could the plane have been approved to depart from KVGT and went down en route to the practice/testing area?
Features and Columns Editor
OK, I understand what you were asking in the QOTW, but you really need to be called to account: Experimental aircraft are certified aircraft! They are certified in the Experimental category! This is almost at the same level as when someone says Experimentals don't have to have any inspections before they can be flown. Gosh, guys -- AVweb is an aviation web site, not CNN! Walt Calkins