AVmail: March 23, 2009
Each week, we run a sampling of the letters received to our editorial inbox here in AVmail. One letter that's particularly relevant, informative, or otherwise compelling will headline this section as our "Letter of the Week," and we'll send the author an official AVweb baseball cap as a "thank you" for interacting with us (and the rest of our readership). Send us your comments and questions using this form. Please include your mailing address in your e-mail (just in case your letter is our "Letter of the Week"); by the same token, please let us know if your message is not intended for publication.
Letter of the Week: Wright Was Right
George Wright wrote: "The inoperative radar altimeter was incidental to this crash, which resulted from three trained pilots all failing to note air speed falling below minimums — a minimum need-to-know to be called an aviator."
To which Russ Niles said: "C'mon, George, that's like saying cause of death was heart failure and failing to mention the knife in the patient's chest."
Clever retort, Russ, but bad analogy. I'm with George on this one. A better analogy would be that AVweb reported the cause of death was a cheeseburger, ignoring the fact that the victim knew he had high cholesterol, high blood pressure, weighed 300 lbs., neglected to take his prescriptions, and never exercised. What you reported was simply the proximate cause, the last link in a chain of neglect, but hardly the only or even primary "cause" of the crash. In fairness, you allude to what will probably reveal the real cause: the CVR tapes.
An infected toenail is rarely life-threatening, unless you are ignoring your diabetes.
Must say I totally agree with George Wright concerning you coverage of the Amsterdam crash. The LRRA may have caused the AP to attempt landing, but the primarily cause was crew error. In reality, this should be called a CFIT accident.
If the patient had a heart attack and fell on the knife, would it be called murder or suicide?
Russ, I'm appalled by your response to Mr. Wright. I too was surprised by the focus of the AVweb reporting and even distributed a retort to your article among associated aviation professionals, saying, "Operator error — what's that? Blame it on the airplane."
C'mon, Russ. You're part of the problem. George is right, and you are wrong.
Remember, the best safety equipment on any aircraft is a well-trained pilot.
No more clever retorts for me, especially on topics that are still a matter of conjecture.
Safety Under Pressure
Is the system going to buy what the FAA is saying — that they need more data on enforcing more crew rest? The FAA backs the airlines on the bottom line and whatever helps them maintain it. Safety has never been paramount except to the pilots, and now they are failing.
If you are tired, you should take crew rest, no matter what the rules say. We should always use common sense. People want to get from point A to point B safely. In flying for the best airline there ever was (TWA), I never got into any trouble for maintaining safety. The FAA is like most airline executives. They only pursue safety when pressured.
Louis K. Klemp Jr.
TSA Is the Problem
The "problem" is TSA trying to justify their existence. GA is not now, nor is likely to ever be a factor in terrorist threats. It is, however, an easier "problem" to solve than the real ones!
C. Michael Hoover