AVmail: Mar. 14, 2005

Reader mail this week about British Airways' three-engine 747 flight, sharing military airspace, near misses and much more.


Sharing Military Airspace

The excessive impact of military airspaces (Question of the Week, Mar. 3) could be mitigated by providing general aviation safe corridors. Similar corridors work in Class B airspace.The military should provide safe flight-following for civilian flights. If this is considered burdensome, it shows the impact of the airspace restriction is excessive.Chuck Forsberg

Reno Tower

I’d have to agree with Steve McDonald in his reply to Reno’s proposed air tower (AVmail, Mar. 7). Being a student and aviator in Reno, I often frequent the airport to watch the traffic. To be quite honest, Reno hardly needs a new tower. Their traffic is hardly worthy it, despite the increase in growth. Little GA airports have far more activity than does Reno Intl., and they need the money more. The FAA has every right to close the tower for several hours during the night. Why not? Little goes on after 10 p.m. Put the $25 million to better use, like giving the terminals a face lift or expanding the GA ramp. Throwing money at a rather insignificant problem is not the answer.Joel Boucree

Global Flyer

I note that your contributor is still unable to resist a “sour-grapes flavor” in commentating on Steve Fossett’s remarkable round-the-world flight (NewsWire, Mar. 7). Cheap gibes such as “bounced the landing,” and “What’s next for Fossett and his well-heeled buddies?” are unworthy of AVweb. It takes a lot more than money to accomplish what Steve Fossett has done with his life. How many of your staff sitting in comfortable chairs in plush offices have swum the English Channel or finished the Iditarod sled race? Such feats take balls, not rhetoric. Shame on AVweb. How about giving some genuine recognition to a man of courage and commitment as well as money?Lou Frank

A NASA researcher said, “If he can do it, why can’t we make it something that more and more pilots could do one day.”This has to be the dumbest thing I have ever heard. Ferry pilots have been making very long flights solo since before I was born. Of course modern nav aids and communications makes it easier. I can’t imagine anyone would ever want to be a passenger on a long commercial flight with only one caffeine-crazed pilot who had been up for a day or two. As for private flying, nothing is stopping anyone from buying a GPS, a sat-phone, and a ferry tank.Joe Della Barba

British Airways’ Three-Engine 747 Flight

I am flabbergasted over the FAA’s handling of this foreign operators’ 747 flight, which lost an engine after takeoff and continued on to Europe (NewsWire, Mar. 7). The FAA and undoubtedly the British Airways operations manual say that an aircraft losing an engine can continue on to the first suitable field for landing. As a retired TWA 747 pilot and instructor on same, I can remember several times in which captains on TWA 747’s continued on to the U.S. from Europe when — by the current FAA’s insight — they should have landed in Europe, namely Shannon or one of the other Irish airports.I myself, on a coast-to-coast flight with a full load of passengers, had a number three engine oil bypass light illuminate while passing over eastern Pennsylvania; the throttle was reduced until the light extinguished (idle on this particular flight), and the flight was continued to LAX with concurrence of dispatch and maintenance. No further problems arose and the passengers, totally unaware, flew safely and comfortably to their destination.I think the FAA is making or trying to make something far bigger out of this than should be. The experienced captain and his legal chain of command totally agreed on this procedure and the aircraft arrived safely at its destination, albeit a new destination. This is one of the reasons we have redundancy built into the aircraft, and the aircraft is certified to fly in this configuration.Now, with that said, everyone else might or might not have handled any of these flight’s differently; and certainly a back-seat driving FAA official who initiated this action might have. But I for one see nothing that was done as being illegal, in bad judgment or unsafe in the operation of the flight.Larie K Clark

Where are the FAA and JAA while British Airways is tossing the dice and continuing a flight with an engine out? I didn’t find a relief in the MEL (minimum equipment list), either. What if they lose a second engine, especially one on the same side? Then there is the concern during landing of being forced to abort a landing at low altitude. A three-engine go-around should not be a problem … but what about a two-engine go-around? I don’t think I’d fly with an airline with an apparent disregard for safely.Berge Jermakian
A&P B747 and others

The following comment is absurd:

“The plane is as safe on three engines as on four,” Capt. Doug Brown, BA’s senior manager in charge of the 747 fleet, told reporters. “It was really a customer service issue, not a safety issue.”

No intelligent person could have made this comment. A four-engine airplane is inherently less safe on fewer engines. If a four-engine airplane loses one engine, it is then on three. If a four-engine airplane that has lost one engine loses a second engine, perchance on the same side, while flying over the middle of the Pacific, that airplane will probably not make it to land.John DiLoreto

AVweb Replies:

We especially like the comment from the Vancouver (B.C.) Sun: “We don’t know about you, but any time we board a 747 we like to think we’re paying for four engines, not three.”

Piston Engine Prices

I am for new aircraft piston engine technology, but you need to realize something while you are comparing auto engines to aircraft engines (AVmail, Feb. 28). If your auto engine were asked to operate at 65-80% of its rated power throughout its operating life, your auto engine would fail a lot sooner than the aircraft engine. Any engine would last a long time if asked to perform at only 20-35% of it’s rated power.This isn’t just my opinion, it is my experience due to building aircraft and racing engines for most of my life and building a host of highly modified auto engines for use in aircraft! I’m not a cheerleader for Lycoming or Continental, and I do believe that they need some more insight into making a better product; but if you have never gone through the process in making a certified aircraft part, then you really should see what the OEM’s are up against. Up to this point, auto engines, as a whole, have failed miserably as aircraft engines. When they have been installed in an aircraft and made it to flying status, the cost involved is right there or has exceeded that of an aircraft engine. A little more research may change your mind on comparing the auto engines to aircraft engines.Brett James

More Accidents = Less Airport Encroachment?

Last week an aircraft had an engine failure when only minutes away from our major GA airport (Jandakot, Western Australia). The aircraft ended up in somebody’s front yard. Minor injury to the pilot, major damage to the aircraft, no property damaged on the ground.Now the city council is talking about — wait for it! — restricting housing developments near the airport.Is this a sudden outburst of common sense? Anyway, it makes a nice change from the usual reactions to aviation incidents.Juliette Curtis

First Flight For Alekto Twin And New Diesels …

AVweb wrote (NewsWire, Mar. 10):

When the TT62 Alekto from High Performance Aircraft made its first flight last month, in Liechtenstein …

I guess viewed from the U.S. on the world globe, the country of Liechtenstein and Heringsdorf in the extreme northeast of Germany are quite close together (about 500 miles apart), but actually there is no airport in the principality of Liechtenstein. According to the HPA Web site, the maiden flight took place on Feb. 23 from Heringsdorf.Just keeping you honest! Juergen Boettcher

AVweb Replies:

We got the idea it was in Liechtenstein from the dateline on Thielert’s news release, but in fact the flight took off from Heringsdorf on the island of Usedom, which we now know is on the northeast coast of Germany, on the Baltic Sea, close to Poland.

Mary Grady

QOTW on Near Misses

Your choices in the near-midair poll don’t include an answer for my experience (Question of the Week, Mar. 10). I have twice been within a stones throw (literally) of another airplane: once on vectors from a busy control tower, and once on vectors from approach control doing an IFR practice approach. Point is, I don’t know if it was reported or not, but I’d like to think that the controllers at least thought, “Woops.” I didn’t say anything on the radio either time. Both times I saw the underside of the other airplane close up: P-51 in a turn in the traffic pattern, and F-18 descending above me in IFR practice.Bob White

I’ve had several instances with general aviation pilots where the guy flying had Stormscope’s and Traffic Watch and he was so enthralled with watching the converging traffic on the screen, he damn near flew right into the traffic. GA needs some serious education about how to avoid traffic!John Davis

Why St. Peters?

You asked why so many photo submissions come from St. Peters, Mo. (Picture of the Week, Mar. 10). St. Peters, along with St. Charles, are the towns directly across the Missouri River from Creve Coeur’s Dauster Field (1H0), which is home to a wide variety of vintage airplanes, and the Historic Aviation Museum. Lots of subjects = Lots of submissions.It’s a great place to visit, with nice folks to boot!H.G. Frautschy
Editor, EAA’s Vintage Airplane Magazine
Executive Director, EAA’s Vintage Aircraft Assoc.

AVweb Replies:

Ahhh – we knew there had to be a reason for all the high-quality POTW entries coming out of St. Peters.

Quick! Someone authorize a travel voucher so I can do an on-site report from the Historic Aviation Museum. And while I’m begging the accounting department to finance my gallivanting around the country, check out H.G.’s own winning POTW from last June. (Surprised we remember that far back, eh?)

Scott Simmons
POTW Editor

Read AVmail from other weeks here, and submit your own Letter to the Editor with this form.