Top Letters And Comments, April 30, 2021


Solar Impulse Lead Partners With Electric Seaplane Venture

Bravo on the collaboration. It’s a great team as any battery improvement this partnership offers will be tested in a real world, short haul, aviation environment. Battery technology is rapidly improving. I see it from the RC model realm to some very heavy hitters in the auto industry. While battery technology is rapidly improving including re-chargeability, its progress is far behind the ESC and motor developments. Eventually it will catch up enough to make this electric Beaver a viable short haul airplane. Harbor Air will have charging facilities in place as their battery partnership matures solving another infrastructure problem that will eventually have to be addressed nationwide for both ground pounder transportation and aerial operators. I am happy for this collaborative effort and look forward to their mutual progress. But I am not going to fret that my gas burning ground bound conveyances and old airplane are in any immediate danger of extinction.

Jim Holdeman

Take any piston-powered airframe today, replace the weight of the engine and fuel with the best motor and battery packs on the planet, and you will have 1/12th the range of the gas-powered counterpart. The weak link is not the electric motors, there are plenty of good ones to choose from. The problem is the energy-to-weight-ratio of the best-available batteries; they are nowhere close to being on-par with gasoline. We have a long ways to go for electric aviation to measure up to current alternatives. But, if Harbor Air can work with the range limitations and leverage modular batteries for quick “refueling” (so to speak), Godspeed.

Jim Perkins

Looking Up Your Old N-Numbers

Thanks for the article. My trainer was a 150 that I bought into for $3000 with 2 other guys. One was a dairy farmer so he flew mid-day. The other was a morning/dawn patrol kind of guy and I was the afternoon evening guy. It was perfect. Since I “owned the plane” there was no shenanigans about scheduling or other FBO games. I had a first instructor that picked up some spare cash between ag flights. This was northern VT so mountain flying was normal. I had the ag pilot/instuctor until I soloed and he got busy. All he told me once I solo-ed was do not fly into big airports and do not take passengers…OK 100 hours later of flying all over the boonies of the northeast I figured I would finish my license. I found a new instructor. He took one look at my log book and shook his head. “well if you have not killed yourself by now you must be OK.” He and I quickly completed all the rest of the requirements and in a couple of months I had my shiny new license. I opted out of the 150 and got a Cherokee 6. My former partners are still flying it 30+ years later.

Burton Bruce

Thanks for the article. “My” IFR training club airplane and the first plane I flew IFR solo was a Cessna FR172 “Reims Rocket” with a 210hp six-cylinder Rolls-Royce Continental engine. I had known it since it had arrived at the club as there is a photo of 2-year-old me at the controls on the occasion of its “christening” (dedication). It got a new paintjob in the 90s when the club entered a cooperation with a radio station to provide aerial traffic information and is still going strong at the same club at age 50, its faded green interior probably still matching the original paint scheme. I don’t know if the black over black horizon and the turning dial ADF ever got an update, but the KX170s probably had to yield to something with 8.33 channel spacing.

Siegfried Lenz

Poll: Do You Consider See and Avoid Good Enough?

  • Up until the advent of ADS-B, I thought the Mark II eyeball was good enough. But seeing with the Mark II and now through ADS-B, I realize ignorance is bliss until we meet, too literally, in the air. ADS-B requirements have forced installation of available technology that makes it clear we are flying in more crowded skies than we realized. Even with airplanes flying in Class E airspace without ADS-B, the larger majority of airplanes that are in more crowded flying environments are now far more visible. I would make a lousy fighter pilot because I don’t see anywhere near the number of aircraft actually flying relatively close by. So far, the Mark II has served me well enough to avoid aerial contact. Essentially good enough. But ADS-B has made me feel more comfortable in those same high-volume environments because I am “seeing” more and better.
  • Like almost all polls, this one is reliant upon limited response choices to create statistical contrast. Back in the real world, the issue of collision avoidance in far more nuanced. It’s not a question of “see and avoid” versus automated technology. Both are tools to avoid collisions. Use what tools you have as effectively as circumstances, priorities and abilities dictate. There is rarely if ever a “one size fits all” solution that is optimal for all situations, so make the best use of the tools available, including and especially the electrobiochemical processing unit installed between most aviation headsets!
  • Depends on so many factors, speed, wx, traffic density, pilot acuity, cockpit design, etc. Leave it to the pilot to decide if it’s necessary. Not all cockpits need noise-cancelling headsets either.
  • Anything that cruises over 250 knots needs to have TCAS or better.
  • Nope! TCAS saved my butt along with my co-pilot and passengers. We were departing a non-towered airport in a G-100 when the TCAS gave us a warning.
  • It’s still the best defense. However, ADS-B and other devices are great support to see and avoid.
  • Blended tech and the eyeball.
  • Flight following!
  • If you’re flying down an airway, be aware that navigational accuracy is so good that you are in serious jeopardy. If you’re off airway, see and avoid is perfect.
  • Should be mandatory in some congested areas such as South Florida.
  • In combination with comms and flight following.
  • Yes. But many don’t consider “good enough” to be sufficient, they want perfection.
  • It was never good enough, but I don’t think it should be mandatory for Part 91.
  • No, but not a fan of “mandatory” equip.
  • ADS-B has made it better, but no system is perfect.
  • Why have vision reqs if seeing ain’t good enough?
  • In my 58 years of flying radio-controlled models, I’ve never had to avoid a full scale aircraft, nor has one had to avoid my aircraft. Now the FAA says I must have ADS-B to fly.
  • Good enough for what? It’s sure a handy tool to have regardless of whatever else may be available.
  • No. Everyone should have ADS-B Out.
  • I don’t want the government putting requirements on us for “safety” equipment which may have dubious value.
  • With all of the gadgets in the cockpit to fascinate us, who needs to look out of the cockpit? That was very apparent in my first glass cockpit experience…It hasn’t changed…
  • Not after being in a midair collision.

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  1. Well, it’s good politics for Harbour Air because a large proportion of its pax are gummint people who tend to be eco-fools, and operations out of Victoria BC harbour are under attack from the mayor and NIMBYs.