AVmail: June 24, 2013 »

Letter of the Week: Training for the Worst Regarding your article on flight safety : There is another review of all the possible things that can go wrong. This is very similar to the FAA and NTSB views that have been presented for several years now. To date, the agencies admit there has been little change in fatality rates the past ten years. There will always be risk, and there will always be those incidents that happen in spite of all the good planning and consideration. The accident fatality rate they hope to reduce is not going to be accomplished in this manner. An incident occurring in flight that requires an emergency landing requires a pilot to be proficient in emergency landing techniques. No matter the cause of an incident, the accident doesn't occur until landing. Historically, more than 75 percent of emergency off-field landings touch down mid-field or beyond in the chosen landing area. Half the fatalities occur from overrunning the field. There is no requirement of proficiency in actual spot-landing touchdown. Survival technique during an emergency touchdown roll-out is not presented. Technique for an emergency 180-degree turn when inadvertently entering IMC is not taught well. Few pilots are trained to proficiency in this simple maneuver. The point being, no matter the risk contemplation and consideration, if something occurs, survival depends on the ability to handle the situation. Until pilots can do this, there will be no reduction of fatalities. Possibly fewer accidents may occur if pilots are frightened enough to not fly at all, but those who do fly will still be subject to the occasional incident that requires proficiency to handle. Robert Reser Click here to read the rest of this week's letters. More

AVmail: June 3, 2013 »

Letter of the Week: Regulators Gone Wild Well done with your report on what is a frightening exposé of Australian aviation regulators. We in the industry have been raising these concerns for over 15 years. Despite these efforts, the politicians have not listened, and we now have a runaway regulator that attempts to dominate rather than work with the industry. There are a number of people who have attempted to correct these and the large number of submissions to this inquiry and the final result which calls for the regulator to be removed and appropriate regulations be put in place is a major step forward. There are a number of people who have attempted to correct these, and the large number of submissions to this inquiry and the final result, which calls for the regulator to be removed and appropriate regulations be put in place, is a major step forward. There are a couple of web sites here and here which are working to collect information and writing about individual issues to bring to the community's attention — issues facing pilots that are of serious concern to individuals and the aviation community. Maybe it's time for another ICAO/ FAA investigation into CASA and ATSB. Name Withheld Click here to read the rest of this week's letters. More

AVmail: May 27, 2013 »

Letter of the Week: Buyer Beware Regarding the story about pre-purchase inspections : We bought a Cessna 172 a few years ago. Our guy was forgiven for not noticing the sluggish performance of the airplane since he flew a PA-32-300 down to Gainesville, GA before checking the 172N out. Back at our home base, we got steady complaints about the aircraft performance since our other C-172M was performing much better. Mechanics looked at everything imaginable until, finally, a borescope inspection revealed that during the last overhaul the cam was installed one tooth off, which caused the engine to perform as though it was firing after top dead center. During the teardown to correct that problem, it was discovered that a gasket that was clearly marked "this side out" was installed backwards. A hole allowing oil flow to the fuel pump area was blocked, and oil pressure had blown a hole in the gasket, allowing some lubrication. This engine had been overhauled by a shop that was no longer in business, but the mechanic who had signed off on the job was working at another shop in the area. Should we have reported the problem to the FAA? That was debated, and the idea dropped. Just because a mechanic has experience and a certificate doesn't mean he does good work. Dennis English Click here to read the rest of this week's letters. More

AVmail: May 6, 2013 »

Letter of the Week: Dangers of Rearward C of G Regarding the speculation that shifting cargo caused the crash of Boeing 747 in Afghanistan, I have some experience with flying an aircraft with rearward center of gravity. Years ago, I was flying a C-47, and the urinal in the head froze up. The co-pilot and several other people were trying to thaw it out with cigarette lighters. The head on the C-47 is in the tail end of the aircraft. In all of my years of flying, this really scared me. I asked them all to slowly back out of the area one at a time, and to leave only one person in the head. We would always load the aircraft with as far aft CG as we could. In doing so, we could get another 10 to 15 knots of cruise speed out of the C-47. The controls on a DC-3 are rather heavy. In this case, with all of them stacked in the tail end of the aircraft, all I had to do was touch the yoke, and the aircraft went into wild gyrations, nose up and down. The aircraft was no longer statically stable. I knew if we should hit turbulent air we would be toast and the accident investigation board would want to know why so many people were in the toilet. I can just imagine the different theories on that one. Vern Childers Click here to read the rest of this week's letters. More

AVmail: April 22, 2013 »

Letter of the Week: Managing the Message I planned an FAA Safety Team seminar on the subject of non-towered operations at towers closed by sequestration. The speakers listed would be FAA Safety Team members, local ATC controllers, and FSDO inspectors. The document was released to 8,000-plus pilots in the Tampa Bay area by FAASafety.gov around April 1. On April 3, I got a phone call from FAA Safety Team management advising me to revise the notice and remove any mention of FAA involvement. I expressed my extreme displeasure with that direction, but I revised the notice. Two days later I got a call from the same manager telling me that FAA HQ wanted me to change the title and remove any mention of the word "sequestration." In addition, I was advised to not discuss budgetary items or sequestration with pilots. I cannot detail here what I said to the manager because a censor would redact them. I refused to change the title. I also threatened to resign as a Lead Team Rep (been one for 25 years) because I will not let the FAA trample on my First Amendment rights. The manager asked me not to resign, especially when I told him the next call I was making would be to the media. The FAA is not paying a penny for the countless hours I have devoted to the FAA Safety Program. I refuse to be intimidated by faceless Washington HQ types who cannot stand the heat brought on by their total disregard for aviation safety. The title of the seminar was revised without me. It was held last week with 66 pilots attending. We discussed everything that the FAA told me not to discuss. This attempt by FAA HQ to manage the story cannot be tolerated. That's why I am writing this letter. Jack Tunstill Click here to read the rest of this week's letters. More

AVmail: April 1, 2013 »

Letter of the Week: Jet Pilots Want To Live, Too Regarding the tower closures : This is to the instructor who is worried about the effect of the tower closings and his students mixing with jet and turbine traffic. I have flown jets into and out of non-towered airports for years. Except for a few that are single-pilot certified, jets are crewed by two very proficient pilots who go extra diligent when in the ATA. We make position reports to let everyone flying in the area know where we are. We do not go blasting into an airport, as you suggest. As long as you teach your students to remain alert, make the necessary position reports, and not cut in front of speedier traffic, they will survive with or without towers, and so will we. Glenn Taylor Click here to read the rest of this week's letters. More

AVmail: March 18, 2013 »

Letter of the Week: Question from a Midair Veteran I have read your interesting article on mid-air collisions , but I cannot agree totally with it. I am the lucky survivor of an actual mid-air, where my Twin Comanche at 150 kts cut off the fin of a Cessna C172RG at 125 kts, losing most of my left wing tip in the crash. Luckily, nobody was hurt, but it still puzzles me how such an event may have occurred. In perfectly clear weather, I was on my toes knowing that traffic at the same altitude (2,000 feet) was heavy and having been warned by ATC of traffic on the opposite heading. Unfortunately, I had just passed another aircraft on opposite heading and thought that was it. Despite what I believed to be an accurate scan, we only saw each other at a distance of about 1,000 feet. I dove sharply to the right, but the other guy also dove without turning, so I pulled up hoping to avoid him. Well, I didn't make it. My question is: In case you really are close, is it better to dive, to keep him in sight, or to pull up? Giulio Valdonio Click here to read the rest of this week's letters. More

AVmail: March 4, 2013 »

Letter of the Week: Crossing the Line? I just read the "Short Final" section of the Feb. 25 issue of AVweb . I get the joke, but I wonder if you folks understand the impact this kind of joke has on current and potential women aviators? By way of full disclosure: I am a middle-age white guy. I teach at a small state-run aviation university, I am an 11-year Air Force veteran, and I am old enough that I should be the primary demographic focus of this joke, but I do not find it humorous at all. After watching first-hand all the crap that the first group of women had to endure when they were allowed to fly aboard the E-3 Sentry and continuing to listen to the stories of our recent women graduates about all the crap they continue to have to put up with, I would ask you to reconsider the publication of similar jokes in the future. I am pretty sure that none of you had any malicious intent when publishing this joke. I am also pretty sure that none of you intended this "Short Final" to scare women away from aviation. But as aviators I think we all have a duty to recognize, especially when we are in positions of power or influence, that what we say and do can have a very powerful influence over our younger charges. I have become especially aware of this since becoming a teacher. So the favor that I ask is simply that you become a bit more introspective and think about the impact of the material you publish. I doubt you would publish a "Short Final" where the punchline related to a pilot doing something dangerous or illegal. That would send the wrong message. I ask that you take the same precautions when contemplating publication of material that could send the message that women are not welcome here. Stan Alluisi Click here to read the rest of this week's letters. More

AVmail: February 25, 2013 »

Letter of the Week: The Moving Experience Regarding your article on motion in simulators : Bravo to you folks for publicizing a dirty little secret. Your question "How important is motion?" is the right one to ask. As you pointed out, what we really care about is transfer of training. The topic of motion in simulators has been debated since the 1950s, with the results consistently stacking up as you depict them in the article. The problem is that the facts contradict "common sense." The conventional wisdom is that the more the simulator is like the airplane the "better" it is. All airplanes have motion, so all simulators should have motion. That logic also leads us to believe the earth is flat. I have been a human factors engineer in aviation for 40 years and seen many situations where multi-million dollar decisions regarding simulators were made on this topic. The decisions consistently disregard the studies because the study did not support the preconceived notion. The current study is on a long list of similar studies (some done recently by the FAA) that come to roughly the same conclusions. We refuse to believe the results, make decisions based on beliefs rather than facts, and so fund more studies hoping the results will be different. Thanks for bringing this topic to the daylight and treating it properly. Dino Piccione Click here to read the rest of this week's letters. More

AVmail: February 11, 2013 »

Letter of the Week: Depreciated Income Regarding the reaction to the White House's comments on depreciation : I believe the comment from the administration is about accelerated depreciation and not straight-line depreciation. While GAMA and others cry foul, one of the largest owners of jets, NetJets' Warren Buffett, complains he's not paying enough tax — yet his company will participate to lower their tax liability with accelerated depreciation, thus his tax rate is lowered. Being in the high-tax-rate group but not high enough to afford the fat cat travel modes, I pay for their benefits because of their lobbyists. Additionally, many of their products are not built in the U.S. and really benefit Canada or Brazil, so why should the U.S. general taxpayer subsidize corporate fat cats like Buffett of Jeff Imelt at GE? Let them join the regular tax-paying public and enjoy the jocularity of the TSA while traveling. I believe in flat taxes so there are no politics in collections. We all pay and make our decision on sound personal economic terms, not political DC intrigue. If Buffett believes he's not paying enough taxes, the U.S. Treasury does accept donations. Why not drop a check off on them? In my youth, we had a saying: "Put up or shut up." Accelerated depreciation to keep the fat cats flying cheaper is a non-starter for me and for most of the flying public. Patrick Scott Click here to read the rest of this week's letters. More