AVmail: Sep.12, 2005
Reader mail this week about user New York controllers, New Jersey FSS, your GPS and more.
MIV AFSS Offline
On Sep. 2, there was a fatal crash near Teterboro, N.J. (NewsWire, Sep. 8). As of the Sep. 3, the FAA still has no plans on getting Millville, N.J., Automated Flight Service Station (AFSS) up and running. They seem to be ignoring the problem and hoping it will go away when Lockheed takes over on Oct. 4. Did the pilot try to contact MIV AFSS with an emergency situation? Was precious time lost trying to communicate with NY Tracon or TEB tower (two very busy facilities)? We may never know, but if it comes out that the pilot tried to call MIV, the fatality is Marion Blakey and Russ Chew's responsibility! Contrary to popular belief, Flight Service does save lives!!! Do we want to give it to the lowest bidder?
Death Rate Of Pilots And Loggers
I read your report regarding the death rate among loggers and pilots (NewsWire, Aug. 29). I may have a problem: I'm a logger who flies! Oh well ...
New York Controllers, FEMA and the FAA
Reading the article, "New York Controllers Get 'Retrained,' " (NewsWire, Sep. 5), I couldn't help but wonder in amazement how such a dumb move could even be justified. N90 has arguably some of the most talented people in one of the busiest airspaces and it is working short-staffed. Of course there will be errors. The article talks about 220 or so controllers, but how many of those are CPCs and why are the numbers so low? (The facility is slated to have 270 people.) Here are some more quotes from AP:
"There are less eyes watching the traffic," said Phil Barbarello, a vice president of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association and a New York controller who was himself recently cited for an error.
"We are 70 controllers short of what we're authorized, and they continue to say that staffing is not an issue," Barbarello said. "This should be a concern for the flying public."
Martin responded, "The staffing at the New York TRACON is sufficient and matches the level of traffic."
Retraining will do nothing but waste money and take valuable controllers away from already short-staffed positions. These are professionals who have been doing their jobs for many years, and the only problem is understaffing.
Understaffing also isn't just something isolated at the New York TRACON, but all over the nation. In other recent news, understaffing at Oakland Center was so drastic during a midnight shift that one controller was left to handle 50 airplanes. At any given time, 25 airplanes are considered "extremely busy, almost dangerous" to some controllers, and having one person work 50 is just reckless endangerment.
I want to tie this all into what is happening now with another federal agency. FEMA, as we all know, has failed to do what it was designed to. It has failed to provide disaster relief to those victims of Katrina, the basic safety service it needed to provide. The breakdown can be attributed to under funding, as well as dimwitted administrators. These seem to be the same exact factors that are driving the FAA to the ground. My heart goes out to all those in the disaster area and I just hope we don't see another agency fail to provide its basic function, providing safety in the skies.
Name withheld by request
How I Use My GPS
Your answer choices do not reflect the way the real-world operates (QOTW, Sep. 8). Yes, I use my GPS religiously. And then I back it up by using both VOR receivers to cross-check my GPS, and I follow my path along a paper chart. I want to know where I am no matter what happens. I also carry VFR charts along on IFR flights for those portions where I am in VFR conditions.
Why Do We Use Airplane Numbers?
At airports without control towers everybody (well, almost everybody) calls on the proper frequency and says, "XXXX area traffic, Cessna 12345 on downwind for runway YY, touch and go."
Consider this: Even with the big, 12-inch numbers on the side of the airplane (not everybody has them), if you are close enough to read the numbers, you are too damn close.
Wouldn't it make a lot more sense to call, "XXXX area traffic, blue and white high wing on downwind for runway YY, touch and go?"
I couldn't care less what the number painted on the side of an airplane is. I do want to know that the airplane I'm looking at is, in fact, the one that is transmitting the information. The airplane color and wing style are easy to see.
Yes, I understand that towers and ATC need numbers for positive identification (play the tape back), but at uncontrolled airports the color and wing style are far better.
One possible reason tail numbers are used is that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) requires identification of the transmitter.