AVmail: July 5, 2004

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Reader mail this week about TFRs for presidential candidates and national conventions, federal inefficiency and much more.

Meigs North

It has been a long time since Mayor Daley bulldozed the island airport's runway (NewsWire, May 10). The reason for it was to turn it to a park for the Chicagoans, he said.

Well, just what does that park looks like nowadays? I am a Canadian but nevertheless am interested just how this Barbarian converted an airport into a lovers' garden for the windy city. We also have a mayor that -- for his political reasons -- nixed a permanent bridge to out Toronto City Centre (Island) airport. The bill for breaking the contracts has not hit City Hall yet, but said to be in the very heavy millions. Comrade Miller -- by promising to nix the bridge to CYTZ -- gained the support of the various labor unions at his majoralty race, but what did Daley gain by tilling the prettiest airport on Lake Michigan?

Csaba Gaal

TFRs For Whom?

Last week's AVmail from the pilot for a presidential candidate got to me (AVmail, June 28). The whole basis of a constitutional republic like the U.S. is that people have equal rights under the law. This is violated all the time today and we hardly notice, but we should. John Kerry does not have greater rights to airspace and protection than I do. And while President Bush deserves some additional protection as our leader, he doesn't deserve protected airspace so large it inconveniences or stops thousands of people from using U.S. airspace.

We are becoming more like a monarchy where our leaders have a different level of rights than the rest of us and that is not the American way of freedom. Give our leaders Secret Service, but other than that they should have to live in the same America we do.

Roy Zesch

I guess if you are a presidential wanna-be -- no matter how much a long shot -- you should get preferential treatment so you don't muss up the schedule.

Perhaps if the people running for office had to suffer what the typical airline and GA user had to put up with, we might actually have some real action on improving the system. To the nameless pilot who flew a nameless presidential contender into a nameless airport I give you the words of the head instructor of the school where I learned to fly: "Deal with it!"

Your passenger is no more or less important than anybody else.

Bob Kaliski

Politics Knows No Airspace

Regarding the headline "Democrats Clear Skies Around Boston" (NewsWire, June 28), I'd better see the same slanted headline regarding the Republicans in New York.

How about "Convention Clears Skies Over Boston" instead? Like it or not, Democrats fly too. How many times have we had to fly around Bush's dirt farm in Texas?

John C. Webb

AVweb Replies

The opinions of AVweb staff range across the political map. We will continue to be equal-opportunity cynics.

Kevin Lane-Cummigns
Features and AVmail Editor

Although I won't be in Boston (or Crawford, Texas) and won't be affected by the TFRs, I find them completely ridiculous. I encourage pilots to let the government know you feel. By now, every pilot should have the Whitehouse contact info. Here is the info for the DNC planners:

Democratic National Convention Committee
53 State Street
Fourth Floor
Boston, MA 02109
(617) 342-2004

Four days? No way!

Kelly Harrison

Airport Congestion

With reference to your items on airport congestion and the problems of expansion (NewsWire, June 28) ...

Given the track record since establishment of the original "trust" fund to support airport improvement (and later, facilities and maintenance), give thanks for any improvement. After all, speaking of the completion of a new runway at ATL, President Carter's Secretary of Transportation, Brock Adams, announced that it was the end of the line. No new runways, let alone airports, would be built in the U.S.

Let us hope that those with limited vision and lowered expectations continue to be proven wrong.

E.G. Tripp

In-Flight Intercepts

Recently we have all been advised to listen to the security warnings that all FSS have had on their 800 phone systems.

So, I am now on an IFR flight and a military jet shows up along side of me because I have just flown over a nuclear station, an Air Force base and a restricted area.

Is this likely to happen to one of us?

The reason I ask it is because on a recent IFR flight I did almost all of this.

Tom Pelz

FAA "Rapid Response"

The FAA didn't take long to formulate a response to the 9/11 Committee's report (NewsWire, June 21). Too bad they're not as quick with the Sport Aviation regs!

Guy Parker

AVweb Replies

To be fair, I think the FAA is as anxious to get Sport Pilot/Light Sport on the books as anyone. The Office of Management and Budget seems to be the stumbling block. The proposed rule is back at OMB after more than three months of tinkering by the FAA and Department of Transportation. With any luck, we'll know soon whether the OMB approves of this version and what changes were made.

Russ Niles


Problems are many in the DCA ADIZ (NewsWire, June 28). One would hope that the latest NOTAM about faulty transponders would just go away along with the many interpretations of what it means. Most, controllers still insist that you exit the ADIZ if he/she looses the transponder reply for any reason. The NOTAM states that -- if one's transponder goes dead -- that pilot will exit the ADIZ by the most direct route. Never mind that the transponder has not failed, but the designed-to-fail ATC system does not detect your working transponder, and then it is treated as a failed transponder. Even though the controller is in radio contact and knows who and where you are, it does not matter. Most everyone knows by now that the ATC and TSA do not link and share crucial traffic information in a timely fashion. So let us push the panic button. Hence, the Gov. Fletcher air show.

How would a pilot know if his transponder is dead? The fact that the reply light is blinking really does not tell you the transponder is working properly. I am a person who certifies transponders and altimeters required by FARs and even I can't tell you if it is working properly by looking at a blinking light.

The sad fact is, along with the ATC/TSA lack of communications issue, the basic problem is the lack of radio communications capability between ATC and aircraft in flight, coupled with an inadequate coverage of the transponder signal reception by ATC at altitudes below 1000 feet above ground level (AGL) in the DCA FRZ and ADIZ. Communication and IFF (identification of friend or foe) is much worse on the fringes of the ADIZ, where a pilot orbits with a working transponder and waits to be acknowledged by an overloaded traffic controller. One cannot enter the ADIZ until recognized and issued a discrete RADAR beacon code, then identified on secondary RADAR and issued authorization by radio to enter the ADIZ. For instance, try entering the ADIZ from the south at BRV VOR below 2000 feet. Good luck! The ATC system is a designed failure. I have on many occasions suggested to the FAA, TSA and ATC that if we are expected to work with the system, they need to give us (general aviation) the tools to comply.

I have, on numerous occasions, suggested to various personnel of the FAA, TSA, and the DCA TRACON that the system needs to be upgraded with more radar coverage and remote transmitter/receiver communication (ROC) sites at the smaller airfields and areas surrounding the ADIZ. One reply was that there is no money available for that. Have to laugh at that one.

I am flying in the DCA ADIZ on a daily basis and frequently in the FRZ and cannot express without anger the frustration I feel at the loss of my personal and business freedom. I have been flying in this area for more than 40 years. As a direct result of the restrictions imposed by our government, business at my local airfield is down by 90 percent. Yes, 90 percent. The flight school that has been in operation for more than 30 years is on the verge of collapse. The FAA repair station avionics facility is suffering financially because most pilots will not run the gauntlet of the ADIZ to come for avionics repairs or transponder certifications. Oddly enough, this repair shop is one of a very few located inside the ADIZ area where properly functioning transponders are an absolute necessity. Twenty percent of the based aircraft at my field have vacated the area and an untold number of pilots have simply given up on flying. Others fly so infrequently that proficiency and thus, safety is on the decline. These are only a few of the problems.

Also, for you folks that have J3s, Champs, BC12s ... that kind of flying in not permitted in the ADIZ. As a matter of fact, the operator of my field was invited by our government to relocate his BC12 outside the ADIZ. Get this, he is the owner/operator of this private field open to the public and has been there for 50 years. Invited to leave his own home. Indeed.

Anyway, all of these restrictions detract from safe flight due to negative attitude adjustments and the daily interpretations of operational requirements. In my flying career, I have observed that distractions result in unsafe flight and indeed have been a causal factor in accidents and incidents. Generally, ATC personal are not pilot rated and are not familiar with any of the workloads or hazards of actual flight. And have little or no regard for the pilot. My opinion here is that ATC air traffic controllers should at a minimum be required to hold a Private certificate and be current in an aircraft to exercise the privileges of air traffic controller.

I inspect electrical power lines located within and adjacent to the DCA FRZ and ADIZ. I fly at low altitudes. I could write a book about my personal experiences and the on-going problems with the above-mentioned agencies. But I won't go there this time.

You have heard the expression "Don't try this at home." Do not let this get out of control and go nationwide or come to your town. It will be the end of general aviation in the U.S. Communicate and vote wisely.

God Bless what's left of America.

Jim Reed

Federal Inefficiency

It is sad to see the departure of NTSB Board Member John Goglia (NewsWire, July 1). John has served the public honorably and with immense technical skills. The departure of John has left the NTSB void of board members able to converse intelligently about transportation matters.

However, the NTSB is not the only Federal Agency void of technical excellence. We see every day the shift of agencies from embracing the necessity of persons possessing technical expertise. These same persons are occupying positions having significant and direct impact on the safety and well-being of the traveling public in an environment of technocracy.

After 25 years as an FAA Aviation Safety Inspector, it became abundantly clear that aviation safety was not a priority of the FAA. I learned about halfway through my career that institutional inefficiency precipitates the lack of technical excellence plaguing all Federal agencies.

Solution? Aviation groups like EAA, AOPA, etc., continue to monitor activities of FAA and NTSB and hold them accountable. Establish open and candid dialogs and insist on ability to make technical inputs. And finally, encourage agencies to reconsider practices of assigning non-qualified persons to technical position affecting safety and integrity of the airspace system.

Jack A. Milavic

Question of the Week

If you want to know what we think, you cannot limit the responses to two or three canned answers.

Example, this week's question (and many previous ones) does not offer a check the box reply to express what I think. Specifically, that opening military airports in areas where there are not an overloaded GA airports, will not alleviate crowding in areas where there are overloaded airports. Great idea, but worthless in locations where the problem does not exist!

Jerry Johnson

AVweb Replies

We do not have the ability to give poll-respondents a place to write out extended responses. If you want to say something specific about a question, send us an AVmail letter to the editor.

Kevin Lane-Cummings
Features and AVmail Editor

Read AVmail from other weeks here, and submit your own letter to the editor with this form.