AVmail: September 22, 2003

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Reader mail this week about the National Air Tour and the FAA Reauthorization Bill.

National Air Tour

Received your much-read article this morning (Newswire, Sept. 18). The information on the National Air Tour is a little bit in error. You may want to check the route they are taking (it will be modified a little along the way due to weather).

They left Wichita on Sunday morning for Tulsa, not Saturday morning for Kansas City, and they won't be on the east coast today. The Tulsa Air and Pace here in Tulsa along with Ford hosted the pilots to lunch and a tour of our facilities. They departed for Ft. Worth at 1:00 p.m., Sunday the 14th.

Jim Sinclair

AVweb Responds:

Thanks for the correction, Jim. They obviously needed to keep adjusting due to the weather, especially Huricane Isabel. Their Web site is a much better place to see up-to-the-minute updates.

Kevin Lane-Cummings
Features and AVmail Editor

Reauthorization bill delay

Your article on the FAA Reauthorization bill delay (Newswire, Sept. 18) stated:

He didn't mention that almost 200 towers are already run by private contractors and, according to a recent Department of Transportation Inspector General's report, operate much more economically and report fewer mistakes than comparable FAA facilities.

Just to bring you up to date, that program has expanded approx. 5 percent in the last three years, but the costs have increased 54 percent. At this pace, with the addition of radar towers, the costs will skyrocket past current costs.

Also, in these towers, errors are not reported unless there is a witness. A lot of the times, these towers are staffed by only one individual. Therefore, the majority of errors are not reported. You said "safer"?

Also, were you expecting the DOT Inspector General (IG) to make a bad report? He is trying to sell privatization. That's like a company policing itself. I mean, surely, you see the errors in the report?

Matt Sterman

AVweb Responds:

We didn't say it was safer, and neither did the IG. The report just said there were fewer reported errors. While there has been plenty of speculation and innuendo about the report's accuracy, we haven't seen anything resembling proof that errors at contract towers are swept under the rug, nor have we found anyone willing to state it for the record. As for the costs, the IG states unequivocally that operational costs are far less at contract towers than at comparable FAA-staffed towers (fewer staff and lower salaries are the main reasons).

And if there was a concern the IG examination would be like a company policing itself, why did NATCA ask the IG to do the work?

Thanks for writing and for using AVweb.

Russ Niles
Newswriter & Editor