AVmail: February 10, 2014
Letter of the Week:
The Real Costs of the Super Bowl?
Regarding the story about the NFL not being charged for air traffic services for the Super Bowl: There is a lack of understanding of the difference in cost of supporting AirVenture and the Super Bowl. I am a retired controller who worked EAA three times and worked the Super Bowl traffic once.
AirVenture requires about 40 air traffic controllers to travel from their home facility to work at OSH for about 10 days. This requires travel cost to be paid, temporary housing, and per diem for food. It also requires overtime shifts to be paid covering for the controller that is at OSH instead of working his scheduled shift at his home facility. This is all a huge expense.
When Super Bowl occurred, we just jockeyed the schedule and started three people later than their normal start time, paid two controllers to work two extra overtime hours, and had one extra person on the midnight shift to handle that late rush out after the game. So, to add it up for the Super Bowl, we paid 12 hours at time and half to cover the game.
For AirVenture, there are hundreds of hours of overtime, plus all the expenses.
I've been an EAA member and I own an airplane, but I don't think the taxpayer should foot the bill for AirVenture.
Just to be clear, according to statements issued by the FAA and the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, providing air traffic services for the Super Bowl was a massive effort that used a lot of extra resources and people.
Drones in Your Space
Regarding the "Question of the Week" about drones: My message is simple. For drones to share the National Airspace System, they need to possess "sense and avoid" technology. As pilots, we are expected to see and avoid. It's a basic principle for safe aviation. We all brief our passengers, even those on their first flight in a small plane, to point out any traffic they see. Why shouldn't we expect the same of anything else sharing the airspace with us? Sense and avoid technology is advancing, but is not yet ready for prime time. Until then, drones should stick to recreational use below 400 feet.
I fly a non-electric vintage aircraft with no transponder. How safe will I be if a drone is flying a pipeline or power line patrol? Just about all of my flying is above rural farms in the Midwest. How will I know if drones are in use?
An Error Repeated
I wanted to mention that the TWA vs. ALPA story contained some typical and long-standing errors of omission and/or inaccuracies. The main point is that TWA was not in bankruptcy when American Airlines' holding company AMR announced its intention to buy TWA.
AMR required that TWA be put into bankruptcy to void Carl Icahn's onerous Karibu Ticket Agreement where Icahn's ticket-selling companies received 20 percent of projected tickets sales ahead of the season. This agreement held TWA back from large profits in the late '90s and early 2000s but the company was not in bankruptcy and operated at a small positive margin. This agreement was unacceptable to AMR and the TWA bankruptcy scheme was enacted at the transfer of ownership.
AMR used U.S. bankruptcy laws to void a business agreement at the handover of TWA to AMR. TWA was not bought out of bankruptcy.