Top Letters And Comments, February 24, 2023


Changing Of The Guard

I started flying in 1966 out of Zamperini Field (KTOA) in Torrance, CA, at a time when general aviation began to flourish in Southern California. The airport tallied approximately 348,000 operations annually, making it a busy airport within what is now the SOCAL domain – an excellent area to learn radio communications. Traffic was intense but training there eventually made it easy for local pilots to accept “Changing of the Guard” procedures at towers or approach control facilities as non-events. Later, as a CFI, I worked out of KPSP, an UP/DOWN facility with commercial traffic, and very efficient controllers adding to the learning curve but at a somewhat slower pace. It was there that I frequently gave instruction to Europeans eagerly anticipating flying into the LA basin for the opportunity to enter one of the busiest traffic areas in the world. They were impressed with the “rapid-fire” ATC instructions and traffic density, making for the most animated debriefings. This article helps explain ATC’s “dark side”. Thank you, Tarrance.

Raf S.

I have been to many tower visits, but I have never had anyone explain the hand-off. This was great and really opened my eyes to what you professionals go through. Great article!

Joe P.

Great review and should be read by many of us who participate in the system, GA, Commercial and Military. I learned more about ATC here than 40 + years of flying.

Thank you, Tarrance.

David P.

In-Ear Shootout: Clarity Link, CQ BT

1. Properly inserted, in my experience the CA headset gives me WAY more noise reduction than A20s (I’ve tried several times). It’s not even close.

2. To get proper insertion, ditch the “roll the ear bud” instructions. Ear buds are icky: embrace the ick. With CA, you wet the bud (go ahead, lick it) and just slide it right into the ear canal – get it right in there. The wet bud will slide in fairly easily (unless it’s too big). You should need to apply some pressure, to get your ear canal to compress the bud, and as the bud relaxes into shape you’ll hear the onset of profound silence. When you remove the bud it’s going to carry ear wax with it, so people who cannot embrace the ick are just not going to like using these headsets properly – get them a set of ANRs.

3. My CA ear buds do get uncomfortable after a couple of hours. It’s nothing like the searing pain that results from wearing over-the-ear headsets that touch the ear; nor is there any clamping-force-derived headache, but the ear canal does get tired of the buds and I find myself re-seating them after 2-3 hours.

Thomas B.

Reluctant to try yet another brand of in-ear headset. Too risky given the high price of $400+ for just a trial. Have already made the mistake of trying 3 other brands —- the smallest tips are too big and painful to wear for any extended period of time and don’t come close to the attenuation of ANR headsets. When they start providing extra small tips, maybe I would be encouraged to try them; but until then, I’ll stay with standard ANR headsets.

Gwen W.

Poll: Do You Think Recent Close Calls Indicate Widespread Problems In Aviation Safety?

  • I do not think it is a lack in safety, but instead an atmosphere of complacency, with all the safety procedures in place, and briefings, and runway environment lights at major airports, these incidents in my mind would have to fall on the pilots either overloading themselves or being complacent, not briefing, and not double checking. It could happen to anyone, but it should be a good lesson.
  • We may be victims of our own success. We have, as individuals, been so successful for so long that we have become complacent, and as a result complacent.
  • Close calls are not a recent phenomenon. Back in the 1980s, I was aware of several incidents.
  • We continue to see the same mistakes over and over. As long as we have amateur training and standards in a professional environment nothing will dramatically change. Proper training requires money that people are not willing to spend.
  • Not having the financial ability to fly frequently, maintain aircraft, receive recurring and advanced training are factors that should be considered here.
  • Data has a way of arriving in spikes and troughs.
  • Personal theory: We have a lot of greenhorns in aviation right now. Being an instructor, I know several people who are in it for the money and not the passion, especially with the new contracts rolling out. So many students go through puppy mill schools and get good training, sure, but only for GA planes. Maybe go corporate, or flight instruct for a while before the first airline gig (dubious for the extra time having any relevance for 121 ops). So, we have green airline guys who have had a stint in flying with COVID then a huge increase in flying post, then the majors shoot themselves in the foot by offering early retirement. Hey let’s bring in those green FOs into the majors! Upgrade our FOs. Now we see an industry where the average experience level has been drastically lowered, especially at the top of the food chain (majors). Risks go up (new to position, company, procedures, etc.). Mistakes go up. Experience isn’t the sole factor but it is a big contributor to things. Not to say experienced crews don’t make mistakes, but perhaps are better at catching them. Maintenance guys who are mechanically minded aren’t as common nowadays. I’d expect to see more mechanical related issues from mechanics, excuse me, ‘technicians’, who deal with computers and wouldn’t be able to fix an original VW bug thanks to the lack of a computer to plug into.
  • Need statistics to explain if this is just publicity about a normal pace, or otherwise.
  • The recovery from the lockdowns and furloughs may be too much too soon. The scopes and variety of the problems indicate something that may snowball.
  • Safety appears to be taking a backseat to profit, once again.
  • The quality of air traffic control has declined greatly in the last decade.
  • Simply indicative of the growing number of aircraft in the same space we’ve always had.
  • Need more info; the NY incident sounds like complacency. The Austin incident sounds like lack of attention by SW crew and control separation expecting clockwork operations by crew.
  • Ground pounders continuing that activity as they become more involved in the “flight” aspect…not becoming part of that “flight aspect” quickly enough. Too many boot campers scuffling around.
  • They increase then decrease/increase – decrease…the quantity depends on what kind of aviation activity is going on.
  • Recovering from severe reduction in aircraft use during COVID.
  • Media cycle.

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