AVmail: July 12, 2004
Reader mail this week about mandated carbon monoxide detectors, Border Patrol UAVs, funds for relieving traffic congestion, a GA presidential candidate and much more.
That Captain needs to be honored for what he did (NewsWire, June 28). I'm surprised it went over. When Lorenzo was destroying Eastern Air Lines (I flew for Eastern 24 years until the strike), some of the guys said they felt he created an unsafe atmosphere, but the crews were ordered to fly him anyway.
The NTSB recommends a CO Detector for every cockpit (NewsWire, July 5). More intelligence and clear thinking from the un-elected bureaucracy. What purpose could a CO Detector serve in an open-cockpit airplane?
Early in WW2, several Australian Air Force bombers mysteriously crashed. Eventually, tests on the bodies of the crewmembers showed high CO levels. Despite all being fit and highly trained young men, none had tried to save themselves or their planes from flying into the ground. The CO came from a poorly sealed exhaust-gas cabin heater system, disabled for Australia with its mild climate.
I was zapped by CO when checking for a car-exhaust rattle, despite being in the open air and well aware of the risks.
The NTSB has a valid function in promoting air safety. However, they are usually most on target when dealing with the airlines and other "for-hire" operations. Their recommendations for GA, however, are often ill-considered and without realistic cost-benefit analysis, as in the latest attempt: to require CO detectors for all GA piston aircraft.
The problem, in my opinion, is that NTSB is basically accountable to no one, and free to make any "recommendation" they can dream up, without considering the economics of operation. Although they may mean well, they are slowly ratcheting up the costs of GA and as such are just one more factor that will continue to drive operators out of business. To wit: Terrain Avoidance Warning System (TAWS) for "six-pack" and above GA turbine aircraft was and is an unnecessary expense. Many people said this, but our inputs were disregarded.
The NTSB continues to make blindside recommendations posing severe economic burdens on GA operators. The FAA is under political pressure to go along or risk looking insensitive toward "safety." But there will never be a zero accident rate, and the accidents we are having today are almost always caused by the same old things: improper pilot training and mindset, and poor pilot execution in the cockpit.
It's true the NTSB can recommend whatever they want. What they can't do is cost you money. NTSB safety recommendations are sent to the FAA, and it's up the FAA to do the cost-benefit analysis and come up with a rule (or not).
I'll try hard to write this without your having to bleep out bad words. Hearing that the lawyers for the Russian victims of the TCAS-involved crash are suing five companies who make TCAS sent me through the roof (NewsWire, July 5). This just underscores the desperate need for lawsuit reform in this country. A judge should have the leeway to throw cases like this out as obvious money grabs. Grr!
If Sen. John Rockefeller is convinced that aircraft are "killing machines," (NewsWire, July 5) then surely the nation's automobiles can be classed as "weapons of mass destruction"!
Use the Flight Director
I must give you my background, not to brag but to establish my credentials for the ensuing opinion. I have been flying for 50 years, have 13 ratings and I stopped counting at 28,000 hours of flight time. I have been an airline pilot and still fly as a corporate pilot on the Citation X. I have been attending recurrent training at the airlines and now FlightSafety for almost 40 years.
Recently the FAA has decreed that the flight director may not be used during training in steep-bank turns and stalls. I have always done these maneuvers using raw data only and felt a certain pride when others began to use computed aids. I stuck by the old basics.
However, in order to avoid getting a reputation as an old-time pilot, I elected to step into the modern world with enthusiasm. I used the Flight Director for the above maneuvers and was given the best "atta-boy" I have had in years. The instructor was not joking when he said he though I had left the autopilot on.
So here is my point. If one has a flight director, it is in use 99.9% of the time. It clearly and vividly hunts for a return to normalcy if one over-banks or stalls. It is a safety device second to none. So why does the FAA insist we cannot use it to recover from a problem? It will be on and available when the problem occurs!
We have additional training on our standby instruments that are the basics we must resort to if necessary. It makes far more sense to train with those basic instruments if they are needed.
Without a major organization like AOPA, the chances of reversing this decree are slim to none. I hope you will publish this note so the absurdity of this FAA mandate is brought to light.
By the way, in the new world of CRM, the co-pilot is required to participate if he/she sees a problem. The FAA now demands that the copilot keep his mouth shut while the above maneuvers are practiced.
I agree that the pilot flying should not be guided through the maneuver. However, the co-pilot's conduct should be the same as an actual flight, where he would simply advise the pilot flying that he was getting out of safe parameters.
Perhaps the FAA person is an "old-time pilot" who has not stepped into the modern world of aviation.
Your article on language used in NOTAMS struck a nerve (NewsWire, July 5). Weather reporting and DUATS should also be in plain language. The current plain language versions always have at least a couple of errors due to the translator program confusing a METAR/TAF abbreviation with a VOR.
Even if we're "locked into" the METAR/TAF abbreviations the descriptive words could be plain language. It's time to take advantage of 1980s technology and get beyond the limitations imposed by 1930s Teletype Baudot code speeds.
Just Great ... As Always
Just wanted to let you and the entire staff know how much I enjoy AVweb. As both a gen aviation pilot, and a military ATC staff officer, your biweekly news summary is timely, funny and very helpful. Often, I "benchmark" your POTW for briefings ... Keep it up.
Border Patrol UAVs
Reference your article regarding potential mid-air hazards associated with U.S. Border Patrol use of UAVs near Tucson (NewsWire, July 5. Is it a reasonable assertion that your statement, "The UAVs are equipped with onboard cameras that provide around-the-clock images in real time to ground control stations," should also have included the caveat, "... but the cameras are aimed at activities on the ground, not the surrounding airspace"?
This concern has surfaced in discussions concerning possible news media use of UAVs in law enforcement / disaster situations to circumvent TFRs in place to preclude civilian manned aircraft from interfering with tactical/medevac aircraft operations. As always, from an airspace public-affairs perspective, I am interested in hearing what is being done or has been done in the UAV arena to mitigate similar operational hazards.
LTC Phil Miller
Kentucky National Guard
Yes, thanks for making that point. The main purpose of the cameras is for surveillance, not for collision avoidance.
Has anyone considered the cost of this equipment? From the sketchy information I can find, apparently the UAVs sell for around $4 million each and operational costs are $10 million.
By my estimate, that's enough money to fund anywhere from 50 to several hundred well-paid pilots in a Maule M-4 for a year. It would have a far greater impact on the local economy, the aviation industry, and the safety of GA flights in the area.
The "high tech" solution may be sexy, but sometimes it's just not the right answer.
Very interesting article (Avionics, Feb. 2003). I had thought of one way not mentioned in the article to cross-check a non-approved GPS accuracy. If the altitude is off by several thousand feet (you'll obviously know more closely at a given moment your alt. than lat. or long.) then you can be very sure lat. and long. are off as well. If you're cruising along on autopilot and the alt. jumps around -- 4996, 4999, 5003, 4998 -- then you can be sure it's working properly. If, however, it is locked on 4999 and not changing at all, be suspicious! You aren't holding alt. that perfectly. The receiver might be jammed! I never read this anywhere but just my intuition seems to think this method will work.
FAA Funds to Relieve Traffic Congestion
Is this pork I smell? So when does Alexandria, La., have a traffic congestion problem (NewsWire, July 1)? Gosh, 20 years ago when I flew into England AFB it wasn't busy. You mean to tell me it's changed now that they removed all the Air Force jets?
Lets all take a deep look at the Congressional/FAA study that was undertaken that justifies all of these airports receiving AIP funds. What, no study?
Surely, airports in and around "major metropolitan areas" need more concrete and airspace. Putting down more pavement and hangars won't fix the problem without more airspace or better ATC systems. More controllers don't help: Just listen to New York or SoCal approach control any afternoon and you'll know why these guys retire at age 56. Pushin' tin pretty much describes the process.
The problem is fourfold. First, it's the ATC's antiquated system. Second, lack of available airspace, and third not enough concrete. Fourth, politics have to change.
However there is one bright side. The average consumer won't like this but limited arrival and departure slots, caused by lack of concrete and airspace, makes each landing slot more valuable. Limited supply, etc. Therefore, economics demand more passengers per arrival, a.k.a., bigger airplanes per arrival, which means fewer RJs, more widebodies, more widebody Captains, etc. If you're a Captain for an airline, you make out. Prices of tickets rise. Slots get controlled. Ticket prices go up again.
So I have little sympathy for the whining airline consumer. Isn't he/she the one who voted against the airport in their backyard? Didn't the consumer want quieter airplanes? Didn't Joe and Sue consumer want to depart on their schedule, instead of a later flight that spread the flights out?
So the money that was spent on Alexandria, La., that could of been spent, say, on congestion around San Diego, Calif., is gone. What a travesty! Now for the real fun stuff.
So we give the AIP money to one of the airports listed in the article. The airport turns around and gives its share to the general revenue fund, for their particular city or county, and it's spent on a new bowling alley or park.
At a hangar meeting I attended tonight one of the board members remarked, "Thank God we don't get all the government we pay for."
European Adoption of FAA Regs
Mr. Ron Swanda of GAMA is from another planet if he truly believes that "FAA regulations ... are well understood," (NewsWire, July 8). This might well be the main reason notto adopt U.S. FAA regulations in Europe. Similar to the IRS regulations and U.S. law, attempts to simplify, expedite, and improve always result in more bureaucratic red tape and confusion. With every passing year, it becomes more difficult to understand what the FAA means in its written directives. If you want to stifle European aviation, then by all means adopt a copy of the U.S. FAA regulations.
Canadian Training System
I recall going through this training system in the early 50s (NewsWire, July 8). I am 72 now and still a licensed Private Pilot. I got my license in the summer while an Canadian Air Cadet serving in Winnipeg, Mb.
Loved it then and still love flying.
Enjoyed this weeks issue.
The First Active GA Presidential Candidate And Nobody Cares?
I found this listing in the current FAA airman medical certificate records:
Name: KERRY, JOHN FORBES
Airman's Address: 19 LOUISBURG SQ
BOSTON, MA, 02108-1202
Date of Medical: Dec, 2003
Class of Medical: 2
Expiration : Dec, 2004
Airman Certificates: Commercial Pilot
Airplane Single Engine Land
Airplane Single Engine Sea
Airplane Multiengine Land
Glider Aero Tow (Private Pilot)
Yet, for some reason (probably because of its historical pro-Republican bias), the general aviation press has not seen fit to mention the key fact that we have the chance to elect the first active GA pilot to the White House. (I searched AVweb, AOPA, EAA, general aviation news, and other Web sites for "Kerry" and could find no references other than to his being a senator who has been active in promoting relief from the effects of 9/11.)
I'm a lifelong Republican myself, but the fact that I could have a fellow GA pilot in the White House, who would most likely protect the interests of pilots (and certainly couldn't do any worse for GA than the current administration has), makes me want to vote Democratic this time.