AVmail: May 30, 2005

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Reader mail this week about students learning with glass cockpits, autoland on aircraft carriers, and lots more on the D.C. ADIZ incursion.

Glass Cockpits Go Ab Initio

In last week's AVweb (NewsWire, May 23) you quoted MTSU's Paul Craig as saying,

"The new [glass-cockpit] technology solves the two problems that make IFR different from VFR: 1) We can see through clouds, and 2) we can see where we are. With these two problems solved, what is the difference between VFR and IFR? The answer: There is no longer a difference!"

While I agree that VFR and instrument training can be done concurrently, there is still a difference, even with a glass cockpit. Most disturbing is the notion that glass cockpits allow pilots to "see through the clouds." I think what Craig meant to say was you can still see a lifelike representation of the horizon - but that tells you nothing about what might be between you and that horizon (terrain, obstructions, etc.). The two most-common GA PFD's, the Avidyne and Garmin, currently provide no terrain or obstruction cues in their virtual view of the world ahead, other than a pop-up window in the Garmin. The Chelton PFD does show terrain contours and obstructions, but warns pilots not to rely on them for navigation. (In fact, I've often wondered if some of the Cirrus CFIT accidents may have been caused, at least in part, by the false sense of security the obstruction-free virtual view ahead that a PFD provides, especially the more photorealistic Avidyne PFD.)

Unless we're very careful, emphasizing reliance on the PFD/MFD during VFR training may lead to a crop of new pilots with their heads firmly buried in the cockpit.

Joe Mazza

The MTSU article about students going IFR immediately on glass cockpits is interesting, and scary. While they can fly Cirrus and Diamond aircraft, the bulk of the fleet is still using round gauges.

If any of those students are fortunate enough to only fly modern bizjets or even modern commercial aircraft, they'll be at home with glass. But the freighters that I've flown on have round-gauge cockpits, and the older 737 and 727 aircraft all have round gauges, which aren't going to get changed soon.

I can picture one of these students coming up to a round-gauge plane and not knowing what the heck to do. Cross training might work.

Pat Barry

ADIZ Incursion and the Pilot's Statement

I would like to give these guys the benefit of the doubt, but with a lame excuse like the one provided I cannot (NewsWire, May 23). I'm sorry -- being 30 miles off-course in an area that everyone knows about, is so widely publicized, and with as many prominent, instantly recognizable to even non-pilot landmarks as D.C. is inexcusable.

I still have not heard a reasonable explanation of how they could not know they were over D.C. The day in question was beautiful flying weather. The Washington Monument, the U.S. Capital, the Mormon Temple (shown on the Washington sectional 10 miles north of P-56) and the National Cathedral would have been visible for 30+ miles and probably from a much greater distance. Plus, Reagan National Airport would have also been visible from a great distance and all would have been visible well before they entered the inner no-fly zone.

With two pilots aboard and great visibility there is no possible excuse for over-flying Washington, D.C. inadvertently, particularly with several landmarks visible with no chance of mis-recognition.

My verdict: Throw the book at them both.

Nathan Spitzer

Canadian TFR

Last Tuesday the Queen of England visited Calgary, Alberta, Canada, for an afternoon visit. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and NavCanada were extremely accommodating of other aircraft. There were only two brief (approximately 30 minutes) flight restrictions (non-commercial carriers only) within a 7-nm, 3000-AGL zone. (See NOTAM below.)

I'd like to thank those involved for addressing the security risks with so little disruption.

Brian Vasseur


ADIZ Defense Tactics

There seems to be a knee-jerk reaction after the news of aircraft wandering into Washington, D.C., restricted airspace (NewsWire, May 26). The news media seems to be promoting those calling for the shooting down of these aircraft. "Shoot now, ask questions later" mentality. They don't seem to realize that the aircraft being shot down could very well crash into a school, hospital, shopping center, homes, etc., let alone the fallout of the weapons being fired.

If my memory serves me correctly, a few years ago a Cessna 150 flown by a deranged pilot flew into the White House at night, killing only himself and causing little if any damage to the building or grounds except the destruction of the airplane. Maybe a better system is needed to allow more freedom of access to the airspace around D.C. and other sensitive areas. Back in the days of the TCAs, I never had a problem in flying into the College Park, Md., airport or any other D.C. area airports using a nav/com and transponder. The more restricted airspace there is, the more incursions there will be, which will bring on more restricted airspace.

With the new Sport Pilots taking to the air with less training, we can expect an increase in incursions. I am all for the Sport Pilot category of pilots to get more people into flying, but we could be shooting ourselves in the foot if we don't spend the time necessary to educate this new group of pilots on the airspace available to them. Us old timers should also get ourselves up to date on the regulations and restrictions.

Don Smith

As usual, our leaders are proposing solutions without considering the implications. When they're discussing how quickly they can kill errant pilots (by shooting them down), we naturally focus on the pilots who -- unintentionally, for the most part -- have gotten themselves in harm's way. Perhaps they have considered the relative risks of a flaming wreck landing within three miles of downtown Washington and the same plane arriving in the city. When they start talking about warning shots, though, I'm reminded of celebratory gunfire in other parts of the world. Warning shots are still shots, with live ammo, that will land somewhere in the crowded city below. That's a high-risk way to defend the Capital against pilots who haven't heard that it's dangerous to fly near D.C.

Nathan Gilliatt

Land Of The Free

I am glad people like Mr. Russell are having a great time flying with out constraints in New Zealand (AVmail, May 23). Oh, by the way, did the couple mention that the United States is at war? Yes, the bureaucracy is a pain in the rear end. Yes, there are things that could be better and simpler. But, you can fly around in most of the minefields if you follow the rules and your plane is so equipped. No, I can't take leisurely flights over the President's ranch or any where near it when he is at the ranch. I just consider it a small inconvenience to be free. I'm just one of the poor bastards that is proud to be paying the leader of the free world's salary. And by the way, he would be the first to come to the aid of New Zealand if needed.

Paul Tipton
(Living within the Presidential TFR when Bush is at the ranch)

Subscribing as I do to a number of Web-based news services, I get to read of the incursions into TFRs and the hysteria when a C150 goes wandering around the White House. Ronald Reagan airport closed to GA. Get real, Americans. You have allowed your freedoms to be sucked away from you by the new bureaucrats who must revel in their power. Start fighting and get those freedoms back. They are yours and have been fought for as long as you have had a United States of America. 'Struth! I can go and fly around our national Parliament (Congress & Senate) with nothing more than a request for a clearance from the controller, and unless it interferes with other traffic, I will be granted a clearance. Perhaps we don't hold our representatives in very high regard. Come on you guys. Get it sorted out.

Andrew Lott

Sport Pilot Insurance

In regards to the article about the lack of insurance for sport pilot training (ATIS, May 22), I am happy to report that the Nebraska Flight Center is the first flight school to get insurance approved for Sport Pilot operations. We are in the process of acquiring a new Flight Design CT that will be used for Sport Pilot and Private Pilot training. Our EAA insurance agent, Falcon Insurance, secured coverage for us after several failed attempts. We will be taking delivery of our new airplane in a couple of weeks.

David John Silchman

Radiation Hazard From Instruments

In the May 9 issue of AVmail, Mr. Egon Frech made a dangerously erroneous statement to the effect that Radium 226 only emitted alpha radiation, which he correctly stated is stopped by "a piece of paper." However, the radioactive element emits far more dangerous gamma radiation, enough that the co-discoverer of radium, Piere Curie, was severely burned by a small sample he placed in his shirt pocket. His co-discoverer, Marie Sklodowsda Curie, died of cancer, probably caused by a combination of gamma ray exposure during her Radium research, and the x-ray exposure from her volunteer work performing medical x-rays during WWI.

For real information, see the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) on Radium.

Candice H. Brown Elliott

Cockpit Cowboys

Well, it looks like phase two of our airline pilots' quest to become real-to-goodness secret federal agents is contained in H.R. Bill 1817 (NewsWire, May 23. Provisions in the bill will allow airline pilots to carry weapons on and off duty and carry a real, live, gold badge identifying them as a bona-fide federal agent. Additionally, wording includes remuneration for all training received. As this will pass because of the ever-present hysteria, it is safe to assume phase three will take place in about another year granting all airline pilots to have full arrest powers.

We have come from the argument that airline pilots needed some means to protect their cockpits from a irate or terrorist passenger while on duty to now include: cargo-only pilots have the same authority to protect themselves from irate packages from storming the cockpits; limited immunity from prosecution for accidental shootings of passengers and boxes while engaged in protecting the cockpit; indiscriminate carriage of weapons anywhere; and, the very best, to flash a badge while in the bar to impress the opposite sex in order to score.

Ya gotta love their tenacity to fulfill their fantasizes

Jack A. Milavic

Runway Incursion!

I learned to fly in the San Francisco Bay area before retiring to Tracy in the Central Valley. Tracy is a haven for ground squirrels, jackrabbits, and of course the predators that feed on them. While taxiing out in my Glastar last week I was able to make the PIREP "Coyote on runway 30." He was trotting down the center of the runway like he owned the place.

Chris Lowery

Autoland QOTW

In your weekly Question of the Week, you so often take a complex subject and distill it down to meaningless choices. At my local airport, I don't think very many will be able to afford an autoland system if it was available, so why are we even talking about it (QOTW, May 26)? Autoland systems have been available for years in the heavy iron world and haven't filtered down to our world because of cost, complexity and training requirements. Besides, when I spend money on avionics I expect more capability; I don't see where an autoland system will allow me to go anywhere or do anything I can't do now.

Richard Jones

Your question is to some degree flawed, because it ignores what happens when the technology fails. I like and appreciate all the whiz-bangs in the cockpit that make flying easier, but nevertheless always ensure that I can fly VFR with compass and map, or do an NDB letdown on partial panel. Pilots will always need to be able to fly manually the hard way since mechanical devices can never be guaranteed to never fail. On this basis, navy jocks will need to keep the basic skills required of a carrier landing anyway.

Neil Fraser

What's all the hubbub about? Aircraft carriers have had Automated Carrier Landing System (ACLS) for over 35 years with the F-4, A-7, F-14, and F-18 aircraft utilizing that capability. It may sound good to say a pilot is not longer necessary; however, when the carrier systems and/or GPS are not available, you might want to have an experienced pilot capable of handling the situation.

Gene Marek

As an A&P maintaining autoland systems, jumpseating during the use of the systems testing and conditions warranting their use, it's about time for the military to use a reliable system for carrier landings. Those who are against this probably don't realize the additional skills pilots must master before being certified to execute an autoland and their ability to disconnect the autopilot.

Bill Olsen

The Small Guy In Aviation

Two weekends ago I attended the Alaska Airmans Trade and Exposition at Anchorage International Airport here in Alaska. I have been involved in aviation for the past 45 years, from pilot, commercial pilot, air traffic controller, to now a blue-card weekender.

As I studied the people at the show, I noticed that the persons involved and attendees were mostly all grey haired. The equipment being offered was mostly above and beyond the reach of most.

Your recent AVflash reflects the same aspect (NewsWire, May 26). Aviation should be attracting a younger, less-experienced group in order to proliferate aviation. Right now, all aspects of aviation are leaning towards the commercial venture. I would appreciate in the future your publication diversify itself for those like myself who support general aviation.

Jake Jacobson

"Futuristic" Air Taxi

I always get a chuckle when I hear predictions of the advent of air taxi and the new age of aviation (NewsWire, May 26). I guess those of us who have been in the air taxi business for 25 years were way ahead of our time.

I hope the optimism is absolutely warranted.

Thanks for AVweb.

John Blakley

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