AVmail: Mar. 20, 2006

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Reader mail this week about user fees, POTW quiz, TSA secrets and more.

User Fees

Thanks for your great article [on user fees; NewsWire, Mar. 13]. I am consistently amazed about how intensely they (the airlines and the FAA) keep pushing a bad idea. Forgive me for stating the obvious, but are we seriously taking advice from companies whose business plan was something along the lines of, "Lose money on every flight, but we will make it up in volume"? If you cannot run your own business to make a profit, or simply break even, then I do not think you should be giving financial advice to other people. But then the FAA does not have that great a record on finances either.

Plus, you see comments like, "The airlines pay 82% of the costs ..." But they did not specify what percentage of the "passenger miles" the airlines provide. If you are providing 85% of the passenger miles, then 82% does not seem too much to be paying.

All in all, it seems the airlines are looking for someone to blame, i.e., "I could not run my company profitably because the costs were too high." And since they could not run their business, and they are worried about competition (from light jets, from corporate aircraft, etc.), they want to rearrange the playing field so they can succeed. Amazing to me: They do not want to change the way they do business, they simply want someone to give them money ... government bailout; pilots, FAs, mechs should work for less; airlines should not have to fund their pension plans. It seems to be, "I have spent all my money; now I need someone else's to spend." Simply changing the fee structure seems like throwing good money after bad.

George Boney

Biz jets are not general aviation. Anyone that intends to make a profit or flies for "for profit" organizations cannot be considered general aviation. People that fly for the love of flying, whether they're burning kerosene in a Lancair IVP or avgas in a Cessna 172 are the people that make up the real general aviation. Biz jets need to be paying their fair share at rates comparable to airliners, not based on the number of passengers but on the fact that they take up a "slot" in the sky just like airliners. The fact that they go to airports like PDK in Atlanta instead of ATL doesn't lessen their impact on ATC. As long as the true general-aviation people fail to distance themselves from the bizjet crowd, we're doomed to have to pay user fees.

Walker Hester

I guess I could support user fees, so long as the next time I want to fly IFR up the Northeast corridor I get the same handling through D.C., N.Y., (you name it airspace) that the airliners now take advantage of. If I'm paying a fee, I won't be expecting to be 30 nm out over the Atlantic in order to not be a burden on Kennedy's airspace. And if I'm shooting an approach with all the other fee-paying aircraft, the airliner behind me can wait in line. Delta, et.al.: If you want to share the fees, you can share the airspace as well.

James C. Hyde

In today's AVweb biz there was a report on the airlines' push for user fees. The last sentence is very telling:

"With that in mind, the industry segment most at risk -- the coming very light jets (VLJs), combined with NASA's small aircraft transportation system (SATS) technologies -- really hasn't reached its stride. Before that happens, the ATA would really like to make it more expensive."

Is this the real reason for the push for user fees? Are the airlines actually afraid of the impact VLJs and air-taxi services are going to have on their business? I, for one, think that VLJs are going to be the proverbial last straw for some of the shakier air carriers.

Ken Renner

Women Make Better Fighter Pilots

Thank you for posting the article regarding the relative testing results for fighter pilots in India in men and women (NewsWire, Mar. 13).

Please note that I have no idea what skills were tested, or what the parameters were, or how the Indian results compare to other countries. That being said, I would like to point out that one interpretation of these results is that the bar has been set far higher for women than men. If women must be more exceptional than men in order to even be tested, this would account for the higher performance mean for women; the lower scoring women have already been filtered out.

This gives fuel to the adage that a woman must be twice as good as a man in order to be considered half as good.

Andrea Monticue

Lt. Cmdr. Bush's Comments

Bravo Commander Bush! When any bureaucracy gets out of control only those that speak the truth will get punished (NewsWire, Mar. 13).

The TSA/NORAD are way out of line. Any terrorist worth his salt knows what Cmdr. Bush mentioned in his remarks. The TSA has acted like he let out a national secret. What idiots we promote in these federal bureaucracies.

A permanent ADIZ around D.C. is just what Osama bin Ladin wants: Just another way to hurt America. By restricting our own freedoms in the name of security, we hurt ourselves economically, morally, and most of all politically.

Any bureaucrat sees his buracracy (TSA, NORAD, etc.) and claims they are protecting America, but don't see the effect they have on the nation.

Carter Boswell

Martin Aviation Group

Just what we need: more negative aviation publicity. Interesting blurb on Troy Martin and his plan to standardize flight training (NewsWire, Mar. 16). He should have done some research: Cessna has been doing it right for years through the 300+ worldwide Cessna Pilot Center network. Cessna is the only manufacturer to "step up to the plate" to promote pilot training. I am surprised that AVweb didn't note that.

Martin FitzPatrick

Float Plane Take Off

I just saw the video of the float plane on a trailer taking off (NewsWire, Mar. 16). I was present two years ago when a plane on Full Lotus floats attempted a takeoff from the grass strip beside the main runway at Helsinki, Finland's Malmi airport. Two attempts failed and then the tower asked if the fire trucks could help. They pumped a lot of water on the grass and the plane took off with no problems.

Tony McGlinn

CEO Of The Cockpit #55

Even the mechanics don't help anymore (Columns, Mar. 13)? I work for a major carrier and beg to differ. The ramp now does all of our pushbacks, but they spend downtime walking around the airplane looking for excuses to call for a mechanic. And many times the reason is if they cause a delay, they can always call Maintenance to have a look-see, which effectively passes the delay to us. Nice, huh? We do help with walk-arounds since we have to be ready to explain everything on the release [or] have to do last-minute "fixes" on something a flight attendant found in the aft cabin of a plane loaded with people. Oh yeah, and we generally work all night doing checks, repairs and callouts from line maintenance. Hmmm. Sounds like we might help out a little after all, do ya think?

Name withheld by request

What Kind of Plane Is That?

Re: Picture of the Week (Mar. 16):

The last pic in POTW looks like a Cessna U-17.

Pepper Kay

The aircraft in the photo is a Yugoslav UTVA 56.

Giulio C. Valdonio

The plane in question is a Helio Courier, several of which were used by covert ops in SE Asia during the Vietnam conflict. My father's company, Plane Boosters, Inc. supplied several sets of "droop tips" to them for evaluation. This aircraft obviously didn't have the modification.

Jack Ferguson

AVweb Replies:

Several other readers also mentioned Helio Courier, but the Canadian aircraft registry doesn't say that. We're still trying to confirm the make and model with the owner.

Scott Simmons
Webmaster and POTW Editor


Thank you for another exceptional news update. I look forward to every edition. You work is a welcome fix for my aviation passion every time it arrives in my e-mail box. I appreciate greatly the amount of fine work that goes into each edition and want you to know how much I value your service.

Please keep up the outstanding work!

Andy Dix

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