AVmail: March 3, 2003

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Reader mail this week about airline cash flow vs. safety, Tuskegee airmen and more.

Airline Woes

It is often claimed that the airline industry can rightly boast of its safety record. As someone who has worked in this industry for over 20 years, I have seen and have been a part of the system, the procedures and processes that have been responsible for assuring the safety of air travel, and the things I see happening today trouble me.

Due to many factors that include greed, bad marketing decisions, cut-throat competition and poor economic conditions, every single one of our once great major airlines is on the brink of collapse. As the managements of these great airlines try to balance their budgets through drastic wage cuts inflicted upon the labor force (normally followed shortly thereafter by the passing out of bonus checks among the managers themselves), they are driving the best and most experienced workers away from the industry.

The widespread shift to contract maintenance where the majority of workers are unlicensed, the turnover rate is high, and there is a substantial loss of control and oversight in what can only be described as "getting the cheapest maintenance possible" is particularly worrisome.

As someone who has had a lifelong passion for aviation in all of its forms, I have learned that it can be brutally unforgiving of any lack of respect or ignorance of its special needs and requirements.

I feel that the current leaders in this industry are taking their enviable safety record far too much for granted.

Paul Irvine

Picture of the Week

Thank you for choosing the Commemorative Air Force P-51-C "Tuskegee Airmen" as your POTW, but I must quarrel with your captioning. It is me sitting on the wing speaking with Col. Charles McGee, a Tuskegee Airmen, and Great American Hero! I, on the other hand, am a lowly warbird puke and little more. While it is a tremendous honor to fly that beautiful bird, and to help tell the story of the "Tuskegee Airmen," I have no right, and would never claim, to be called a Tuskegee Airman.

Those who would like to learn more about the "Redtail Project," what we do, and where we will be this summer, check us out at our Web site.


Doug Rozendaal

Question of the Week: Traffic-Pattern Entry

This is too important a topic to be answered by multiple-choice answer! The most important discipline when operating at a non-towered airport is REPORTING YOUR POSITION AND INTENTIONS BEFORE PATTERN ENTRY AND AT ALL THE CORNERS. If you are not radio-equipped, then you should fly a standard entry and pattern, and WATCH OUT! I would ask how many pilots have have the experience of some yahoo making a straight-in approach without annoucing himself? I've almost been hit a couple of times like that.

Roger Newcomb