AVmail: June 23, 2014
Letter of the Week:
USA Today's Strategy
Only a personal injury lawyer would write a Lettre de Cachet like the black adventure story published in USA Today. My sympathies for their reduced ad revenues and declining circulation. But holding public executions and sensational smear campaigns has never worked for any publication. Even the networks hesitate to raise their viewing by attacking privilege. They should know this.
Fifty years worth of aircraft accidents looks terrifying to a public with an attention span measured in 30-second spots, but this is what USA Today is gambling on. They hope to boost circulation and redefine themselves as a rag, which they aren't far from in any case.
It was pretty silly for you to publish information from GAMA and the EAA that dispute the crappy GA safety record.
Perhaps more than 45,000 deaths in five decades looks good to you, but as a retired airline pilot and owner of numerous GA aircraft over the years I have always been surprised by the unsafe FAA decisions that put money first and by the acceptance of those unsafe factors by pilots and owners alike.
Obviously AVweb is part of the problem.
It's about time EASA and FAA start working more closely together. But why is EASA bothering European pilots with an FAA license flying their N-registered airplanes, sometimes for more than 20 years? In my opinion, this is against ICAO.
I have (besides an FAA CP with IR) also an EASA license, but a lot of pilots here don't. Maybe EASA should also rewrite their air regulations as they are a (very bad) copy of the FARs.
AOPA's Rate Increase
I don't see how AOPA's dues increase could be avoided for following reasons:
- Rising costs is a "business" eventuality for anyone.
- Reduced GA activity and membership in general without declination of expenses. (AOPA is operated efficiently.)
- The "cost" of advocacy thanks to our government: "Of the Lobbyists, By the Lobbyists, and For the Lobbyists!"
Given their mandate, and particularly with the Air Safety Institute, in my humble opinion, the organization offers an excellent value to pilots and business!
I'm O.K. with a dues increase if AOPA can show me why. But in reviewing their financials, it appears AOPA and The AOPA Foundation are making healthy profits. Perhaps they intend an expensive campaign to the benefit of GA that will outstrip their profits. If so, a dues increase makes sense. But I haven't seen anything to date that indicates they need more revenue from dues.
Just a quick note regarding the article on crosswind landings: The author refers to 17-knot crosswind as the maximum a "professional pilot" can make in the plane. That number could actually be the highest crosswind component the pilot could find during the certification process. The manufacturer wants to go to market in a hurry to recoup cost and isn't willing to wait for higher winds. Actual crosswind components capabilities for a particular aircraft can be much higher than demonstrated crosswind components.
C. Frank Bales
In your article "Dancing with Crosswinds" — which was very good, by the way — there was a minor technical error. It was stated: "Remember that energy equals mass times acceleration squared." Actually, kinetic energy is mass times velocity squared. But the intent of the sentence remains valid. Energy quadruples when speed is doubled.
Frank A. Carr
Grass Landings O.K. Sometimes
In the sub-section "Perfectly Good Runway," the article states that "grass runways on public-use airports are ordinarily usable unless they have been NOTAMed closed. But, for some reason, pilots seem to ignore them; maybe because of lack of training or because of insurance policies that exclude coverage for landings on grass runways."
I am consistently being asked if landing on other than a paved runway is a violation of their aircraft insurance policy. The answer is, no. A standard "pleasure and business" aircraft insurance policy does not have an exclusion for landing on grass or dirt runways.
However, in rare instances, an "off-airport landing" or "designated airport" endorsement is attached to an individual's policy. This endorsement, if attached, prohibits the landing of the aircraft anywhere other than an FAA designated airport. This endorsement does not exclude the take-off and landing of an aircraft on a particular runway surface. This endorsement prohibits the take-off and landing from any location, whether paved or unpaved, that is not recognized and identified by the FAA as an "airport."
This endorsement would only be attached to an individual's policy if the underwriter deems it to be necessary. For example, a person that has already suffered a claim from landing off-airport (non-emergency) may have this endorsement attached to their policy. Or, if we are insuring a Maule and the insured's occupation is "rancher" and he lives in Montana, the Designated Airport Endorsement may be attached. If we do have an aircraft owner who utilizes an area not designated as an airport for the take-off and landing of his aircraft, then we need to notify the underwriter to get this approved. Any pilot who takes off and lands on strips which are not recognized or designated as an airport by the FAA would need to be addressed.
Insureds also get confused about the "off-airport endorsement." The endorsement just says you cannot land off-airport, except in an emergency. But the off-airport endorsement does not exclude dirt or grass strips at FAA designated airports. The misunderstanding is the off-airport endorsement or Designated Airport Endorsement excludes landing on grass or dirt, but this is just not the case.
So, aircraft insurance policies do not have an exclusion for the take-off and landing of aircraft. If an insured does have an off-airport or designated airport endorsement added to their policy, this can be removed, depending on the circumstances. Insured carriers would encourage any pilot to use the safest landing options available, regardless of the runway surface.