Top Letters And Comments, January 22, 2021


Going to the Moon Was Easy Compared To 100UL

Car engines routinely have compression ratios (CR) of 10:1 or higher and run fine on mogas. In significant part, it’s because of far-better engine management systems (EMS) which are totally lacking on traditional aircraft engines. But fundamentally, it’s possible only because their small cylinder volume automatically makes pre-ignition much less of a concern. Upgrading from 1928 ignition systems to EMS is technically quite easy and relatively inexpensive, but FAA certification is a byzantine and expensive proposition. Reducing CR with shorter connecting rods is also relatively easy. Turbo engines already have mechanically-lower CR and could be “fixed” by limiting boost. Reducing the effective CR reduces power of course. Expensive true.

Other regulations presently make adoption of 94UL difficult. A new standard self-fuel installation is very expensive and fuel volume isn’t enough to easily make up costs. (The few in my area charge more for 94UL than 100LL as a consequence.) Numerous and varying local and state restrictions generally forbid having small private fueling options. And, as is the case with me, even with a lead-free loving Rotax, I am required to burn 100LL because that’s what the USA certification certificate requires and the manufacturer has nothing to gain now by changing it, nor is there enough money to be made by going through an STC process, for a tiny number of such aircraft types.

Overall, a pretty bleak picture.

Jeffry S.

The NAS study was directed by Congress to ignore all of the current Unleaded fuels under development. That is in part why it wallows around in half-baked options. Both the GAMI and Swift UL100 fuels are “Drop-in” replacements with viable formulas able to be produced in existing refineries with existing processes and additives. They are languishing in part because they are designed around a proprietary license model, and haven’t been developed by the producers. The Shell product had issues with dissolving paint, and the Phillips product (“About 5 years away.”) uses Manganese salts and scavengers that also have health risks. GAMI and Swift fuels have been delayed by indecision over testing methodology and criteria for actually granting approval for these fuels. The few refiners brewing 100LL aren’t going to change over until either ordered to by the federal government or forced to by cutoff of Tetraethyl lead supply from Innospec. Most medium to small airports can’t afford to add new tanks, so adoption of UL94 requires arm-twisting to get one of existing tanks/refueling operators to switch. And it requires distribution infrastructure (transport/storage/deliveries) to mitigate the cost premium away from the Indiana refinery now producing it.

John M.

The problem is too many rules already. Agencies being frozen because they couldn’t get rid of rules just reminds me of that thing with monkeys unable to get their hands out of a jar because they won’t release the fruit inside. Pretty sure my dog could work out that level of problem.

The moonshot was solvable because there wasn’t a mile of preexisting red tape that a majority of normal people found somehow sacred. There merely was a lot of miles physically deadly to humans, and math to be overcome. (Hidden Figures is an awesome movie)

If lead in aircraft is such a huge deal, just show me the money. I suspect it’s like everything else in the world where it’s only a problem when someone else can be made to provide the time, effort, and money to fix it. In the meantime, we all pay for bureaucrats not to solve anything.

We are really in this situation because of lack of demand for new light aircraft and their engines. That’s a result of a combination of many things, but much of it is a seeming conspiracy to take the fun and utility out of light aircraft for over half a century. Additionally, innovation gets squashed because flying is so dangerous it justifies many pounds of regulation yet it’s the only industry where manufacturers have a right to build offending products ad infinitum.

We can do one thing for certain and stop building planes that require 100LL.

Eric W.

Pipistrel Launches Electric Aircraft Maintenance School

Pro-active and forward thinking from a forward-thinking aircraft company. Company sponsored training is a great benefit for maintenance personnel. Especially when the training is centered on a very unique aircraft powerplant that is a far cry from tradition.

Electric motors are relatively common, especially in RC modeling. But every powerplant has its unique dynamics when installed in a full-size airplane. In this case, Pipistrel has already dealt with many of those new dynamics. I am glad they are willing to share those experiences with willing maintenance technicians. Another hallmark of a great company.

This reminds me of the American Bonanza Society’s maintenance training programs. While Bonanzas are relatively common, there are maintenance specific processes when learned and adhered to, simplifies procedures, speeds up troubleshooting, and facilitates a well-done repair. Cirrus has followed a similar path. Both have contributed to a continually improving safety record, improved customer service and satisfaction, and brand loyalty. Pipistrel is doing likewise. Excellent!

Jim H.

Poll: Is the FAA Right to Crack Down on Disruptive Passengers?

  • Should all rules/regulations be universally enforced, yes. However, consequences of violating those rules need to be proportional to the impact of the violation and be based on the ability to enforce it. Attempting to dictate civility (which is a debatable definition) via rules though an executive branch is a dangerous path to pursue.
  • As long as we have an acceptable definition of “unruly.” This could be abused the opposite direction as well.
  • Yes to more enforcement, but zero tolerance for anything means zero thought and ridiculous outcomes.
  • It won’t work. Each individual case of “disruptive behavior” or “non-compliance” has the potential to result in legal proceedings. The legal profession would be the primary beneficiary. In other words, Dickson’s stance has is more along the lines of a threat with few teeth. He and FAA legal counsel know that, but since threatening administrative fines and criminal referrals appeals to the majority, it’s a “feel good” move on his part. On the positive side, maybe some of the more self-centered oafs among us can be intimidated by empty threats!
  • Depends. If the crackdown is only on those whose views they disagree with, then no. If the crackdown applies to all disruptive passengers, then yes.
  • Problem is the airlines have weaponized this and crew can’t be trusted to be judicious.
  • The “no warning” part is begging for abuse of power. You complain about something, and “pow” some cranky flight attendant put you on the “no fly” list for every airline. No warning, no due process. Now, it’s on you to fight the issue, probably at great expense.
  • Yes, but zero tolerance exposes quickly corrected honest mistakes to penalty.
  • I fly United, usually on long haul international routes. I have been subject to harassment and abuse by FA’s on ego trips and security personnel in domestic and international destinations. Not enough, but these incidents do cause me to reflect on bad actors who use this ruling to punish passengers they don’t like.
  • Sometimes crew appears to escalate the problems.
  • OVERREATION. Hopefully, this problem will soon go away.
  • As long as it is non-discriminatory in any manner. We must be civil to others.
  • Yes. If it causes problems for the other passengers or the crew.
  • Passenger rage is a direct result of the way airlines treat their customers. Clamp down on the airlines, not the passengers.
  • That’s a job for law enforcement. NOT the FAA.
  • Defining “disruptive” could be challenging.
  • Sure, just don’t redefine disruptive for your own purposes.
  • Always did before, what a sign of the times that that question is even being asked.
  • “…this too shall pass…”
  • Yes. Disruption is a safety of flight issue.
  • Sure. As long as due process is observed. Most are wonderful but some FAs can be real tyrants that can escalate a situation. Civility is a two-way street for all.
  • Unfortunately, they no longer have a choice.
  • Only if done without bias.
  • Commercial airline travel and seat size have become so horrific, it’s no surprise.
  • As long as it is applied equally…not likely.
  • Depends on how “disruptive” is defined.
  • Yes. People should get one warning (depending on the behavior). Then if it happens one more time, duct tape and gag the rest of the flight.
  • Broad tyranny is being excused at this time at the expense of liberty and in the name of safety. This is being enabled by a smokescreen of incomplete facts. Who can say what is really going on.
  • Yes, but please don’t apply the term “zero tolerance” which often leads to zero common sense.
  • Depends on circumstances.
  • It’s private property owned by private entities, it’s up to them to do what is appropriate.
  • Use a little common sense!
  • Only if ALL other forms of public transportation follow.
  • Yes, if not for political reasons.
  • If intoxicants are served, it is naive, if not unreasonable, to expect civility.
  • This is absolutely necessary!!!
  • Equal crack down. Wearing a hat is not disruptive. Screaming and forcing others to submit to an ideology is disruptive.
  • It’s time to end the nanny state and allow individuals both responsibility and freedom.
  • Yes, with latitude.
  • Not the FAA’s responsibility. Should be law enforcement or airport/airline security.
  • Crack down, but zero tolerance rarely works without some unjust, overzealous, wanna-be cops.
  • This is like arguing over whether you have the right to fart in a crowded elevator stuck between floors for two hours. Simple courtesy says put a clamp on it.

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