AVmail: March 13, 2003

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Reader mail this week about Jeppesen's databases, military night flight, airwave congestion in D.C. and more.

Jeppesen Fixing Database Problem

The system of issuing airspace boundaries by the FAA and other countries is a mess. The FAA uses VOR stations and VOR radials in true bearing for Class B and C, and LAT/LON for restricted areas, and who knows what for TFRs.

What the other ICAO counties do is probably less than uniform, to say the least. Jeppesen in many cases may be reduced to tracing maps in ICAO member states Aeronautical Information Publication (AIP). ICAO mandates that each member state have an AIP, but beyond that there are scant standards.

Last July, Jeppesen issued the amended Class C boundaries for Santa Ana, Calif. (KSNA) with significant errors at the northeast boundaries. This resulted when their specialists misunderstood a radial from POM VOR as being magnetic, rather than true. Once I pointed this out to them, they "corrected" it with different errors the next chart cycle. Finally, after the second cycle they got it right.

There is a solution for this: All ICAO states should issue Special Use Areas in decriptions that are strictly in terms of Lat/Lon, and the rule should include a vector-graphics "shape" file that would have the boundaries in ready-to-use electronic chart format.

Wally Roberts

Sierra Approach Becomes Norcal Approach

The FAA is at it again -- maximize confusion at all costs! I just received my latest Jepp chart updates, and effective 3/20, it seems that Sierra Approach will become Norcal Approach. The FAA created chaos in northern California when it created Sierra Approach. They combined the approach control facilities for Bay Approach, Sacramento Approach, Monterey Approach and Stockton Approach into Sierra Approach in a new facility at the former Mather Air Force Base in Sacramento. It seems unnecessary to rename approach control facilities associated with airports to refect how many buildings the FAA is in, but they did this in southern California when they created SoCal Approach. I suppose some people from out of the area were confused by Sierra Approach since the Sierras are well away from the Bay Area, but to rename the Approach Control facility at nearly every airport in central and northern Califorina twice in three months is nutty. Can't they get it right the first time with something as simple as naming a facility?

Mike McHugh

Military Lights Up For GA

I assure you that if a GA aircraft enters an MOA during night operations I am NOT taking off my Night Vision Goggles (NVGs). That would be the equivalent of closing my eyes and flying around at night blind. Pretty stupid statement on your part, "... the night-goggles get put away and the lights go back on." We wear the NVGs from takeoff until landing! I assure you it is no big deal seeing and avoiding other aircraft at night when wearing NVGs. Other aircraft with lighting are extremely obvious. While wearing NVGs I can track aircraft easily over 100 miles away. While maneuvering in an MOA at night, the problem is that GA pilots are not going to see me due to my maneuvering. We fly the same maneuvers at night that we do during the day, with typical dive angles of 30 degrees, climb angles of 45 degrees and roll maneuvers of 135 degrees.

Mark Weston

AVweb responds ...

We wrote that with the assumption that the lights of the other aircraft (military and GA) would be too bright to continue wearing NVGs. Thank you for pointing out that you continue to wear them for safety reasons.

Kevin Lane-Cummings
Features and AVmail Editor

Civilian Tiltrotor Rotates ... Its Nacelles

I was plainly shocked when I read that the CEO at Bell compared the civilian tiltrotor flight to the flight of the Bell X-1. Does this man even have any idea what the XFY-1 Pogo plane is? Does he have any idea what pilot flew that truly challenging plane and how much more skill, daring and guts that was required to fly THAT plane compared to the Bell X-1?

Patty Haley

AVweb responds ...

In our opinion, it is up to the pilots and historians of the future to decide whether the Bell Agusta 609 compares at all with the Bell X-1 or the XFY-1 Pogo, not to the PR department or CEO of a corporation.

Kevin Lane-Cummings
Features and AVmail Editor

Washington Flight Rules Eased

This past Saturday was the first good weather flying Saturday since the ADIZ went into effect. It was an absolute dissaster! Many pilots cancelled flights after they couldn't get a discrete transponder code or had waited so long it wasn't worth it. ATC was overwhelmed and couldn't handle the load. Pilots who did make it out of the ADIZ had trouble getting back in. The problem will get worse as the weather continues to improve. Those of us that live and fly under the ADIZ need the help of all pilots accross the country, PLEASE contact your Congessional Representatives and explain how this is not providing security and is trampling on the rights of US citizens to move freely about our country. Your city might be next!

Jim Clark

Corrections ...

In Monday's News, we reported on the "... 70th anniversary commemoration of a biplane flight by two Hungarian pilots, who circumvented the Mediterranean in a bid to boost aviation in their country." A more accurate, but perhaps less interesting, word might have been "circumnavigate."