AVmail: Nov. 22, 2004

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Reader mail this week about digital ELTs, renaming very light jets, fish finders and much more.

Digital ELTs Required By 2009

All of the new 409 units have a 121.5 transmitter just like the current ELT's and that is what is used for the fine tuning of the search (NewsWire, Nov. 11). So interference with TV's DVD's etc will still be with us. On Civil Air Patrol missions I have personally turned off one satellite dish and one DVD. This is not going to change.

Tom Schiff

Got 'Em On The Fishfinder

Now that inexpensive TCAS-type equipment is showing up on smaller planes (e.g., Short Final, Nov. 15), there'll be an increase in the more-or-less standard "Got 'em on the TCAS" replies to ATC traffic calls.

The other day I was listening to an exchange between a SoCal controller and a Caravan who acknowledged a traffic call with a "fishfinder" reply. During a slack moment the controller asked the pilot if the TCAS instruction or training suggested they make that reply, or did they just pick it up from common usage. The pilot replied with the latter. The controller then made the comment that he was just asking because, to him (the controller), this reply is meaningless in the sense that it doesn't relieve the controller from his responsibility to continue pointing out the traffic. The implication was that the controller would rather not hear any "fishfinder" replies.

I was wondering how controllers in general felt about this? It does, after all, convey someseemingly useful information, even if not in a legal sense.

John Wilson

AVweb Replies

AVweb's Don Brown, a controller at Atlanta ARTCC, discussed this problem in a column. Any other air traffic controllers want to weigh in on the question?

Kevin Lane-Cummings
Features Editor

Mini Jet Insurance Rates

Proportionately speaking the insurance rates you quote from AIG for the Eclipse sound awfully high considering all the training and the fact that a turbine aircraft should be safer and more reliable than a piston (NewsWire, Nov. 15). As my point of reference I am using my aircraft and insurance rates. I fly a Piper Malibu that does not have a great safety record. I have a little over 1650 hours total, over 1200 complex time, a commercial license and 300 hrs in type. My insurance premium for $425K hull ($250deductable) and 1 million smooth liability is $7650 annually. Trippling the hull value to $1.3mil (I believe the Eclipse 500 will come in at more than that) and proportionately increasing the premium one gets $23K for annual insurance. Far less than the rates your article quotes for similar experience levels.

Greg Wroclawski

Is Marion Blakey Overpaid?

Ms. Blakey has been in the news recently stating that air traffic control specialists are overpaid. I take exception to those comments. I wonder if Ms. Blakey considers herself overpaid? If you are a pilot, have you ever gone flying on the weekend? Overnight? On a holiday? I am willing to bet there weren't any "office " personnel on duty staffing the radios or scopes. As far as I know ATC hasn't been automated yet! I do wish the "office" staff would stop and think about what they are saying. As for the press, why don't you challenge that type of statements?

Thomas D Dittmer

Question Needs More Answers

You asked how many would be using the new sport aviation in the near future (QOTW, Nov. 18). All the answers provided were of the affirmative type. There was no way to say that you weren't. How can you take an accurate survey that way?

Bill McClennen

AVweb Replies

We thought that the second answer, "... but I don't know anyone who plans to use them ..." addressed your point; but if not, we added a fourth answer.

Scott Simmons
QOTW Editor

The Microjets Are Coming!

The general aviation industry is poised to introduce a new type of jet transport -- the 'microjet' or 'very light jet' -- as early as 2006. Several manufacturers have aircraft in varying stages of certification and the first of these aircraft should be in the skies in the year 2006. Are they coming to an airport near you? The manufacturers think so, but take a step back and get real. To you and me in the aviation industry, a jet-turbine-powered aircraft that needs as little as 2500 feet for takeoff is appealing. To many others, it spells nuisance, annoyance, and an unsafe and unwanted intrusion to their living environment.

For these aircraft to be successful even after FAA certification, we are going to need a well-thought-out marketing strategy. Not to pilots or those who would purchase the aircraft, but to communities near the airports these aircraft are intended to serve. Use the words 'microjet' or 'very light jet' and you've started on the wrong foot. A jet is a jet is a jet. Mrs. John Q. Public can't and won't distinguish between an Eclipse 500 and a B747. The character of the airport will be perceived to have changed and that can trigger the environmental review process.

The first step in a marketing strategy is to find a name for this new type of air transportation. Let's at least start with a name that does not raise blood pressure levels in the nonaviation public. One that conjures up the image of an aircraft that is quiet and safe. Creating the right public perception is key. The term 'jet' is sexy only to us. It doesn't fly (no pun intended) with most people. Do it now before it's too late.

After much thought, the name I suggest is 'quick flight vehicle' or 'QFV.' It's like a car that happens to need less than one-half mile of pavement to travel the world by air, or think of the terms 'rapid transit vehicle' and 'unmanned aerial vehicle' that commonly are in use today. The QFV acronym is less intimidating than any type of 'jet' word you could derive and needs to be the first step toward its successful integration into the airport community.

Ronald F. Price

Designee User Fees

The proposal to charge FAA designees "user fees" surfaces every few years (NewsWire, Nov. 18). I can't speak for pilot or maintenance examiners, but FAA recognizes that most of the 6000 or so Aviation Medical Examiners do flight physicals as a service to the aviation community, and make little or no income from them. There are a handful of docs who do enough exams to make a living at it. There are a lot, like me, who do a couple of hundred exams a year. There are even more who do a couple of dozen or less. Factor in the cost of space and equipment to do the exams, time to process and transmit them, and the time and expense of the mandatory three-day seminar every three years to maintain the designation, and it's about a break-even proposition for most of us. Add in a "user fee," or a fee for the seminars, and a lot, maybe a majority, of AMEs will simply stop doing flight physicals.

A good case can be made for significantly decreasing the frequency of required exams, especially for younger pilots. But so long as the requirements exist, anything that dramatically reduces the availability of AMEs will be yet another blow to an aviation industry that doesn't need any more problems.

Stephen D Leonard, MD, FACS

X43A goes Hypersonic

I believe that the successful test of a Scramjet engine is a far more noteworthy event than Scaled composites winning the X-Prize (NewsWire, Nov. 18). Burt Rutan's "space vehicle" reached only Mach 3. Orbital escape velocity is about Mach 22. Since the energy required is a ratio of the square of the speed, Rutan's space vehicle would have needed over 50 times more energy and fuel to get into orbit. The altitude Space Ship One reached is not even high enough to get out of atmospheric drag. So what practical value does winning the X-Prize have? Possibly the first step in transcontinental suborbital flight. But to make even that practical would take some type of power source such as the scramjet engine.

Greg Wroclawski

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