AVmail: Aug. 28, 2006

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Circling Approaches

Having read Brian Johnson's article regarding the accident of the Bonanza circling at Chester, Conn., (Probable Cause, Aug. 21), I'm reminded how often I see pilots, especially high-time pilots, attempt the same maneuver without an ATC clearance to do so. The circle-to-land must be part of the approach clearance from the Approach Controller. Pilots who miss the straight-in approach who then spot the runway often then ask the Local Controller for permission to circle-to-land. An authorization that can't be issued without coordination with an approach controller who may have another aircraft sequenced for an approach.

Robert W. Coulter

Question of the Week -- Flying Pedigree

Not enough choices [to the question, "What influences helped bring you into aviation ..." (QOTW, Aug. 24).] At least three apply to me. I chose "Military," but why military? "Family," not parents -- my uncle dusted crops on the family farm in West Texas, took us for rides in his spray planes as little kids. I was hooked. No money, so military. Turned out to be something I really liked, so "bug," still at it, still love it at 22,000 hrs and counting.

Mike Hudgins

I have to share a line I use frequently:

People assume I'm rich because I own an airplane. The truth is, I'm poor because I own an airplane.

Jack Burton

Synthetic Fuel

Talk about re-inventing the wheel! (AVwebFlash, Aug. 21)

During the Second World War, President Roosevelt turned to Henry Kaiser, and got all the "Liberty Ships" needed. When he needed B-24s, he turned to Ford, and got thousands of B-24s. When there was a need for a sub-orbital vehicle, Burt Rutan did the job. Now we have the Government re-inventing the fuel that was used since 1938, and is in major use in countries like South Africa and now in China.

We can expect a Government program to last at least 10 years before the product is approved for general use, at a cost of millions of dollars. If the Government needs any advice ... why not contact South Africa for their expertise, or Give Shell Oil a contract to build a full size refinery here, as China has done?

Surprisingly, we have a need to become independent of foreign government's control of our needs, e.g., Saudi Arabia, etc.

Herbert Yuttal

Weather Services to ARTCC

The article in Thursday's edition of AVflash seemed to accept the misleading viewpoint of some FAA officials (AVwebFlash, Aug. 24). Weather briefings are not the chief services provided to the national ARTCC system. Rather, routine briefings are valuable byproducts of the principal aviation weather service: advice and aircrew warnings of dangerous or deadly conditions.

No one can argue that routine briefings can be done efficiently via a consolidated, perhaps contractor-provided, system. However, focusing on weather briefings overlooks the real intent of having professional meteorologists in the ARTCCs: making sure that up-to-the-minute critical weather advice is available to pilots and the flying public.

Talking about weather briefings is a red herring that threatens to divert attention from the life-saving advantages of having trained, experienced, weather experts working in the Centers at the controller's elbow.

James Duke

Exploding Lithium Batteries

In the 1970s I was an active GA pilot and Air Traffic Controller in Canada. I seem to recall a time when the Feds deemed that ELTs in Canada, because of the climate, were to have lithium batteries, it being claimed that lithium batteries were better able to maintain their energy in cold weather than other types.

Within a couple of years (if I recall correctly), another notice came down from on-high requiring all lithium battery powered ELTs be removed from aircraft because of a number of incidents of batteries exploding, resulting in structural damage to some aircraft.

I remember being caught between a rock and a hard place (like many other aircraft owners) with regulations forbidding me flying beyond a 25-mile radius of my airport without an ELT, and another forbidding me to fly at all with my then lithium-powered ELT aboard.

Cross-country flight (legal, conforming-to-regulations cross country, anyway) effectively ended for a time!

If there is a statute of limitations on such things, I now own up to flying trips of more than 25 miles on several occasions ... and if there is not such a statute, go ahead and come after me ... I live in the U.S. now, and I will fight extradition!

It seems this lithium-battery issue is not a new one (AVwebFlash, Aug. 17).

Kerry Sim

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