AVmail: Dec. 10, 2007

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A380 (Not) Tail Strike Video

The video of the A380 having a tail strike is undoubtedly part of the certification testing (POTW, Dec. 1). Since an over-rotation accident in Rome in the early days of jet transports, they must all now demonstrate their ability to lift off successfully if over-rotated on takeoff. Seems the A380 succeeded spectacularly! Darrell Yonker

Cessna's Plan to Build C162 in China

While I do agree we are outsourcing too many jobs overseas (AVwebFlash, Nov. 27), how long has Boeing or any other aviation company been building components all over the world? The people who complain about Cessna trying to keep production costs down on a small "first airplane" for many pilots are the same people who can't wait to run to stores like Wal-Mart and buy cheap, Chinese junk. General aviation people are notoriously cheap! Who hasn't seen some guy arguing with a vendor at shows like Oshkosh or Sun 'n Fun over a few cents per unit of hardware for a homebuilt or production aircraft? Charles LaBow
While there is significant precedent for off-shore aircraft manufacturing, it is regrettable that one more manufacturing icon in the U.S. has caved in to the lure of outsourcing. A country's wealth really isn't helped by giving up their manufacturing base and increasing their trade deficit. I find it strange that, on the one hand, Cessna recognizes that the spam-can designs are passť from a manufacturing-economics stand-point, yet that is what the 162 is. On the other hand, they are agonizing over the design of the NGP and buying the Columbia plastic airplane business. It seems to me that their 162 would better designed as a composite aircraft that now could be built in the Columbia plant, keeping the jobs on-shore. If I was on the board of Cessna, I would be wondering if they have their missions clearly sorted out. They may have their Citation act together but the light-aircraft strategy seems fragmented. They may not have known about the Columbia opportunity until recently, but they had to have seen the writing on the wall for years regarding riveted light-aircraft manufacturing. This is especially true when the LSA market is price-sensitive and dominated by newer composite designs. Now the price and support of the 162 will be buffeted by politics, the value of the U.S. dollar, uncertain Chinese currency valuation, costs of local oversight in China and double shipping of parts. I have a hard time believing that this plan is in anybody's best interest. If I were a manufacturing-line employee at Cessna, I would have to be wondering where my job was going in the long term. I can't see the 162 being a serious option as an LSA ride. Dave MacRae

Instructor Shortage

In reply to the comments of another reader about CFI recruiting (AVmail, Dec. 3), what is wrong with paying CFIs $30/hour for primary instruction? Even that is a little low considering that's a contract rate and the instructor would be liable for all of his own taxes and insurance. It's the most important rating in aviation, because the kind of pilot the student will forever be is forged there. Maybe when all the 250-hour pilots are hired by the regionals, there will be instructors left who really want to teach and are good at it rather than folks who are more interested in seeing the Hobbs meter turn and will not give decent pre- and post-flight briefings because it doesn't add to flight time. To get them, you have to pay them. Linda D. Pendleton
The instructor shortage was created by design by the FAA when they decided to weed-out a great number of pilots by the biennial recertification process along with the fencing out of aspiring youthful aviators from their no-longer-public airports. Thus, once one misses a biennial checkride, one must have a close friend that is an instructor perjure himself or alternatively endure the costly red tape involved to get recertified. I have practiced the most difficult form of contract law for the past 50 years and find the FAA regulations most difficult to comprehend. To expect the layman to understand these deliberately complex rules is absurd. To fence our youth out of their own airports is unthinkable. For the FAA to persecute those aviators they are paid to help is a miscarriage of justice. The FAA is one big bureaucracy that has most all of us running scared from their ill-gotten, misplaced authority. Marcus Bates

Greenhouse Question of the Week

The word "most" in the first option should have been left out (QOTW, Dec. 6). I am sure there are other better options (electric powered train travel for example) so using "most" makes us pilots look ignorant and self-centered. A better option would have been: "Flying is an environmentally benign form of transportation, but we're not getting our message out. Everyone in aviation needs to band together to get the facts to the public. At the same time, we are willing to look at any option that would decrease our impact on the environment." Tony Thigpen
I'll limit my recreational flying at the same time that a limit is put on all other motor sports. As long as every Saturday night, hobby racers get to go around in circles, I should be able to bore holes in the sky. Michael K. Vance
As is often the case, I disagree with the presupposition of your question. The problem is to reduce the environmental impact of flying. The better solution is not to stop flying, but to make flying more environmentally friendly. Harold Schorr

Maine Use Tax

I was appalled to hear of the tax that Maine is trying to collect from aircraft owners who fly into their state (AVwebFlash, Dec. 5). My wife and I had been planning a trip to New England for next year, including stops in Maine. I have just emailed the Maine Office of Tourism to let them know that we will be canceling our Maine portion of the trip until the state has dropped this ridiculously bogus charge. I suggest that all other pilots who plan to visit or do business in Maine do the same so the state understands they are just hurting themselves with this levy. Chris Toeppen
Other states have similar tax laws to the one in Maine ... Michigan is one. If your airplane is in Michigan more than 90 days in a year, you must register the aircraft, which is not a big deal in itself. However, registration triggers a use tax of 6 percent if you haven't already paid sales or use tax in Michigan. So, when researching the tax rules in a state, watch for these indirect triggers. Stan Prevost

Ground Safety

I really don't understand why ground traffic safety is such an unsolvable problem (AVwebFlash, Dec. 5). Red and green traffic signals are used at millions of road intersections throughout the world. Here in our own country, teenagers and blonds have learned to obey them. Lights could be put at all taxiway/runway intersections and, with a few months training, even pilots could learn what they mean. The outmoded system in which a controller talks to one plane at a time should be canned. No wonder the controllers are fatigued! Robert Barton

Shark Skin

Re: the shark skin research (AVwebFlash, Dec. 5): Years ago an aero engineer friend of mine and I were discussing the possible benefits of a non-smooth wing surface to reduce drag. My point of reference was a golf ball. He had made a radio-controlled glider with a dimpled surface on the wings and claimed that it would stay in the air forever ... much more efficient than a smooth wing. Our problem was mainly trying to figure out how to apply that technology in production -- especially on sheet-metal surfaces -- cost effectively. With today's composite surfaces, maybe it is could be done. Again, with the modern golf balls as point of reference, look at all the improvements and tweaking they have been doing to dimple patterns on golf balls to primarily add distance, and for decades the advantages of a dimpled surface over a smooth-surfaced golf ball has been well-documented and universally accepted. Similarly, another friend's airplane sat through a hail storm that dented the surfaces considerably. Structurally it was judged to be airworthy, and in the subsequent flights he made before he had the skins replaced, he always claimed the airplane was noticeably faster. For years I've wanted to try a dimpled surface on a GA design, but haven't been in the position to do so lately. John Piper
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