AVmail: Dec. 4, 2006

  • E-Mail this Article
  • View Printable Article
  • Text size:

    • A
    • A
    • A

Shorter Runways Are Safer ... Michigan Proves It!

I read today's AVwebFlash with great interest. The article about the Martin Co., Fla., airport that wanted to shorten the runway to accommodate noise complaints (On The Fly, Nov. 27) could have been written about our local airport in Canton, Mich., (1D2). This state-owned airport now sports a safer runway because now it's shorter. I have to admit though, it was also grooved.

Our runway ended close to a bordering road, so to create a "safety zone," last month they removed some pavement, painted chevrons for a couple of hundred feet, and relocated the taxiways and lights so that now we have a shorter and "safer" runway. Of course, nothing is as it seems so just for good measure they were restricted from adding any pavement at the opposite end, even though there was ample room to do so. To ensure that it also looks good, a four-foot decorative fence was installed that gives us something to clear should we be too low, that far from the end of the runway. I have to admit though, it was also grooved.

So you see, Michigan proves that you can have a safer runway by shortening it.

Name withheld by request

One-Wheel Cessna Video of the Week

On the YouTube video of the great Cessna landing (VOTW, Nov. 27), did you notice the master switch was still on even after the firefighters had opened the passenger door? (Strobes were still flashing.) It does not detract from the great landing, but is important to mention.

Gary Bishop

Question of the Week -- WAAS Upgrade

I find this week's question about WAAS upgrades for the 430/530 series irksome (QOTW, Nov. 30).

As a GNS480 owner, I wonder how many of these 430/530 guys realize that the upgrade to WAAS will still not provide all the capabilities of the 480, such as airways. Why do you media guys essentially ignore the 480? It is powerful. It has soft (smart) keys that change based on the profile being used (no wading through multiple levels of menus and fields). My gripe also applies to the Gamin 1000 Glass Panels ... no airways either, arrrgh! If you think the FAA is going to get rid of airways anytime soon, forget it.

I've been flying LPV and LNAV/VNAV approaches, holding patterns (anywhere I want to put them), procedure turns, DME arcs, etc., hands free, for a couple of years with my 480 / S-Tec GPSS combination. Rarely do I have to fuss with the suspend key, it's usually automatic, no matter what the flight profile. Also, the 480 has the entire missed approach profiles in its database, avoiding the dangerous "straight to the missed approach hold upon turning off the suspend key" found in other boxes. In fact, the 480 is very close to a flight management system (if only it had a keyboard). With a roll-steering autopilot, it flies all the legs of an approach without pilot intervention, auto switches from GPS to ILS, and back to GPS at the MAP. On and on ... it's hands-down more powerful than the 430/530.

Of course, my main gripe is the lame notion that it's so hard to operate. Of course, it operates differently from the 430/530, but that's because it is so much more capable. Flight planning is much more powerful, without having to enter all the interim waypoints on airways, etc. I'm convinced that if the masses had learned first on the 480, they would say the 430/530 is hard to operate.

Maybe your next question should be, "Do you now own and fly with the 430/530, and if so, have you ever really examined the 480's capabilities and operation?"

Sadly, the 430/530 crowd doesn't know what they're missing, and the media have not been exactly fair in their comparison of the two systems, either. In comparing the two, there seems to be an apples-and-oranges issue. Fortunately, with the 480, I get to enjoy both apples and oranges.

(I'm excited about the new Garmin Glass Panel 600, which I can use my 480 as its GPS engine. Now you're talking!)

I do like AVweb ... keep up the good work.

Allen Stone

Photoshopped Images in POTW

I think some of the people that replied to this question answered it differently than I will. Using filters, Photoshop and techniques to make a real photograph better is part of being a good photographer. These things have been around forever. What I don't want to see is people "creating" images in Photoshop, as in copying and pasting two or three images together and make others think it is an original. Using that type of work, I could make it look like the Wright Flyer is landing on an aircraft carrier. That should not be in the same category as actual photographs ... does that make sense? Editing an actual photo to make it brighter or clearer is OK, but creating a phony image from bits and pieces of others is no good. Just my thoughts.

Blake Mathis

Legacy TCAS in Brazil

Regarding the incident in Brazil with the possibility of the TCAS being turned off (AVwebFlash, Nov. 30):

I fly for a company that has two King Air 300s. We had the Ryan 9900BX installed in both. Each installation was completed by a different shop -- both reputable, Certified Repair Stations.

Both got it wrong and it was not discernable for a while.

On both aircraft, when retarding the power lever, if the gear warning horn was allowed to sound, the TCAD entered the "ground" mode. There is no audible annunciation when the unit enters "ground mode" -- only a "G" appearing on the display that is not in the pilot's field of view in our aircraft. The traffic is displayed on the Sandel 3400 mounted in the typical RMI position.

The 9900BX wiring requirements is for a connection to the squat switch to signal that the aircraft is on the ground. Both Avionics shops connected to the squat switch wire that carries the gear warning horn for the "squat switch" input to the 9900BX.

Approaching an uncontrolled field with a substantial amount of turbulence (lots of power lever movements) and traffic in the area to be made aware of, the 9900BX would be placed in "Ground Mode" without the pilots awareness if the gear warning horn was allowed to sound. Also to note that one aircraft has the landing-gear horn "Mute" button on the power lever and one aircraft does not. Holding the mute buttons prevented the gear horn from sounding and allowed the 9900BX to continue to operate in the selected "Air Mode."

It was more likely to occur in the aircraft where the pilot has to "cross-hand" reach the mute button while retarding the power lever to prevent the horn from sounding. Once the gear handle lights were "on" without the horn sounding, the TCAD operated as usual.

A call to the Ryan support team verified the error of the installation.

Upon notifying the respective shops of our problem, one requested the aircraft immediately and the other denied they had installed it wrong. The second shop explained after the third conversation, "We installed it just like we do the SkyWatch," and still offered no fix.

The aircraft was delivered to the first shop, an unused wire from the squat switch was selected and the unit was rendered appropriately operative. One phone call and the situation was remedied within three days.

The second shop? The aircraft went through a phase check with the avionics department there having been told about the problem. No fix was completed. "We installed it just like the Skywatch" was only offered.

They finally fixed it after a not-so-pleasant conversation and an offer to give them the wiring diagram from the first shop. They did finally remedy the situation with diodes to allow the proper operation if the gear horn sounded.

The batting average for getting it wrong was two-for-two. This is a significant potential problem at these odds!

Keep up the good work with the reporting!

Cal B. Twitty Sr.

Response to AFSS Letter

This is in response to Mr. Brenneman's letter complaining about the Oregon AFSS briefer (AVmail, Nov. 27). I wouldn't expect the AFSS specialist to have read 7110.65, since it is for terminal and en route options of ATC. I would expect him to have read 7110.10, the manual for Flight Services. Maybe the briefer had to put the remarks in the flight plan due to local procedures. There probably was a valid reason for this. It's harder than ever to be a Flight Service specialist. Not only does Lockheed Martin (LM) still have no idea what we do, we are under a microscope from the FAA and to a lesser extent the NWS, where everything we do is over-scrutinized.

We are no longer expected to tailor the briefing to the pilot and his/her flight and give the best briefing possible. We are expected to meet arbitrary "Acceptable Performance Levels" that have no bearing on good briefing, just so that LM can get their bonus. What makes it worse is that the FAA is using any reason to "fail" us briefers so they can avoid paying LM their bonus.

Mr. Brenneman, next time you talk to Flight Service, cut them some slack. Many will be out of work in 2007, also we are still hurting over the horrible way we have and still are being treated by the FAA. We're doing the best we can. To all the other pilots who have been supportive and patient with us, Thank You!

Name withheld by request


Just want to tell you I really enjoy AVweb. First thing I read, good info for even us private pilots. "Short Final" is always good.

Anyway, please keep up your excellent work.

David Cutler

Read AVmail from other weeks here, and submit your own Letter to the Editor with this form.