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AVmail: Oct. 27, 2008

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TSA and GA

Sometime soon it should become very clear to the officers of GAMA, NBAA and AOPA as to what the true mission and intent of the TSA is really about (Question of the Week, Oct. 16). Their intent -- first, last and always -- is to control. If security also happens to take place, fine; but it is control, which is paramount. And it is this never-ending push for complete control, in the name of security, which will eventually suffocate all of general aviation and most of business aviation. And that will be just fine with the TSA, as the liberty and freedom which flying represents is anathema to that organization. It's later than you think. Mark Medvetz

U.S. Public Waking Up To Benefits Of NextGen ADS-B?

Don't perpetuate the misinformation the AP had dumped on the people (AVwebFlash, Oct. 12. None of us, GA or the airlines, is wasting billions zig-zagging across the sky. En route routings are generally good. If time and fuel are being wasted, it is because of spinning in circles waiting to get onto limited concrete. ADS-B does not address to core problem of limited runway capacity at major hubs. You need to be hammering that message. Take AP to task ... don't just repeat their garbage. John Horton

Tuskegee Airmen

I salute the Tuskegee Airmen (AVwebFlash, Oct. 12). However, the claim that they never lost a bomber to enemy aircraft has been refuted. Let's honor the Airmen's service while keeping the facts straight. T. D. Jones

FAA's "Check" Costs Time, Money

Your story, "Controller 'Training' Scrutinized," is illuminating (AVwebFlash, Oct. 14). So, the FAA isn't supposed to do this, but it does this. Anybody getting fined or fired? Let's see how much trouble these diversions caused (and we'll disregard the safety issues, since the FAA says they were not directed into other aircraft or thunderstorms, and presumably all the diverted flights had plenty of fuel). Two 737s, a 757 and a 747 were all diverted between 50 and 100 miles. How much fuel was wasted? Shoot ... I don't know, because I don't know what other maneuvers (climbs, descents) were required; but fuel isn't free. As for the distance traveled: 100 miles "travel" could equal a 50-mile "diversion," no? See? They're both right. Let's consider just one element: the passengers' time wasted. Not only were some connections in jeopardy (which could account for hours!), but just suppose that each of the four aircraft wasted just 10 minutes. (At 500 mph, you cover 83 miles in 10 minutes. Kinda fast for an average, but realistic for actual mileage. Don't like this? Use your own numbers.) OK: Ten minutes of air time, times 150 x 2 (conservative guess for passengers on a 737) plus 200 (passengers on the 757) plus 300 (747) equals 8000 passenger-minutes, or 133 hours. At $20/hr (not unrealistic, considering most fliers aren't minimum-wage earners), that's $2600. For 10 minutes of training! The FAA is like every other taxpayer-supported operation: They have no consideration for the people who earn the money in the first place! When you do the follow-up math, don't forget to add the costs of fuel, crew time (and what if the extra flight time required a crew repositioning?), and the potential time lost by passengers who missed connections (and business meetings, and their kids' piano recitals). Arrogance and profligacy: two good words to use. I hope the "training" was worth it! Tim Kern

Lockheed-Martin Closing FSS Locations

The recently announced plan by Lockheed-Martin to close numerous FSS locations, due in part to reduced demand, is a self-fulfilling prophecy (AVwebFlash, Oct. 17). Poor service will, in fact, lead to reduced demand as users find better alternatives. As this trend continues, we should not be surprised to see a single, nationwide, FSS facility, with the call center outsourced overseas. Leonard Ivabigun
Since Lockheed-Martin took over for Flight Services, I too have been disappointed. The specialists do their jobs, but it's evident that they don't care. When the government specialists used to give a weather briefing, they were not detached from the flight, as a rule. Now it is the exception and that makes all the difference. Steve Gorman

Accident Statistics

In the article on accident statistics (AVwebFlash, Oct. 16), the NTSB report said, "The numbers were delivered independent of total hours flown." I assume that means they are not adjusted for those hours. It then goes on to say, "Overall, there were 43,193 transportation fatalities recorded in 2007 versus 45,085 in 2006." None of the accident statistics can be properly interpreted without adjusting for the total number of hours flown. If total hours flown by GA decreases in any given year, then the expectation would be that the number of both accidents and fatalities would also decrease if the rate of fatalities also remained constant. All of the GA publications are writing about the decreased number of hours being flown by the GA fleet in light of high fuel process, the home mortgage crisis, and a number of other economic factors that impact upon the number of GA hours flown in any given year. The decreased hours flown must be considered before we congratulate ourselves for safer flying. We need to ask what the denominator is for the data. For example, the AOPA ASF 2007 Nall Report shows that, from 1997 through 2006, the GA fatal accident rate changed very little, from 1.36 to 1.26 fatal accidents per 100,000 hours flown. It is possible that with the declining number of GA hours flown now, the actual rate of fatalities is increasing, not decreasing. Please be cautious when reporting accident statistics and advise readers to be equally cautious in their interpretation of the numbers. You have a great publication, and I enjoy reading it twice weekly. The editorial quality of your publication is superb. Victor Vogel

Union Decries FAA Change In Controller Training

I have been an Air Traffic Controller in Australia since 1974. Controllers of my vintage had the opportunity, due to the variety of training, to move within the various ATC streams of tower, terminal or en route as a part of their career structure. This gave not only a variety and sense of career development but, more importantly, a knowledge base and experience of the varied facets of ATC which stood you in good stead in conducting your trade. My colleagues and I are firmly of the opinion that, here in Australia, the "streaming" of trainees into the specific areas in which they will work has caused a "dumbing down" of the knowledge base throughout ATC as a whole (AVwebFlash, Oct. 21). The inability to view procedures, standards and practices from a broad spectrum of experience has seen a very real conflict in the understanding and standardization of these procedures. I believe limited training for the reason of expediency and cost cutting has led to a massive loss in the basic knowledge base via the "degrees of separation" from one generation to the next. A penny-wise-pounds-foolish-exercise, I'm afraid. Colin R. Goon

Obama/McCain on User Fees

Both candidates gave fuzzy statements (AVwebFlash, Oct. 21). Obama used the word fees in his. McCain did not. But we shouldn't forget that McCain has been a major supporter of user fees. Indeed, he was one of the proposers of user fees. Don Smith
Two years ago the Chicago Area Business Aviation Association (CABAA) invited Sen. Obama to our first legislative day and he declined to attend. Our association has over 400 members and representatives from some of the major companies in the Chicago area. If he was pro-GA, he would have attended, as did other state officials. Rick Milburn

KMD150 Repairs

It was necessary to send my Bendix/King KMD150 out to have the internal battery replaced and repairs made to the off/on switch. It did not arrive back for almost two months. Apparently Honeywell chose to send the unit to England to be serviced, and at a cost in excess of $550. Is this now where Bendix/King does business from, or is this carrying outsourcing to the point of insanity? Ron DeMello

Didn't Fire on a UFO

Your story headline, "U.S. Pilot Fired On UFO During Cold War" is quite misleading (AVwebFlash, Oct. 21). The pilot was ordered to fire at the UFO, but according to his own account, the target disappeared before he was able to get off a shot. Your headline is the only one I've read on this subject that hints that shots were actually fired. My understanding is that being ordered to fire on a target does not equate to shots actually being fired. Please clarify for us. Mitch Alexander You're right, Mitch. The fact is I wrote the headline after my first glance at the stories online and forgot to go back and edit it after finishing up the writing. No shots were fired. Thanks for paying attention and thanks for taking the time to write, we appreciate it! Mary Grady

Kudos

Great article on salvage, very useful, timely information, substantial content (Maintenance, Oct. 20). Keep up the good work! Bruce McCaskey
Just a word of thanks for the really good work that y'all do to keep us informed of industry happenings. Thanks! Bud Walker
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