AVmail: Apr. 21, 2008

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Fenway Flyby

AVweb wrote (On the Fly, Apr. 14),
"A blown flypast by National Guard F-16s at Fenway Park in Boston has resulted in the grounding of the out-of-position pilot. The maneuver he chose to remedy his error busted an altitude limit, but having video of the maneuver distributed on YouTube likely added to the attention ..."
That is not an error or out of position ... it's a barrel roll around the other aircraft. Richard Eaton

L3 Skywatch

Why can't my L3 Skywatch TCAS unit offer a computed direction of flight like the lower-cost S-mode TIS transponder units? I've asked L3 this question repeatedly and never get a qualified answer. In seven years of flying with the Skywatch I've had numerous close calls, but most of them weren't close at all once I spotted the aircraft and we weren't converging. It certainly gets the heart beating fast for no good reason! Owen Carr

Airline Mergers

AVweb wrote (AVwebFlash, Apr. 16),
"As details of the Delta and Northwest 'merger' emerge, the number of affected parties continues to grow and it's looking like some key people weren't consulted -- like Northwest's pilots."
Although I have no dog in this fight, I do hold dear accurate reporting. Your statement is uninformed, at best. The pilot unions of both carriers engaged in lengthy negotiations, while management held its fire, aimed toward a joint seniority list .... which would be the key to a share of the merger benefits. NWA pilots were unable to agree to a merged list that would not disadvantage the younger DAL pilots. They had their shot at the gold, and are still invited to participate. With reference to speculation on a UAL-CAL merger following the DAL-NWA deal: Many of these speculators forget that an NWA-CAL deal in the late '90s gave NWA the voting power to veto any future CAL deal. That was the main obstacle to a DAL-CAL merger, which was seen by many observers as a much better fit. It will be interesting to see if the DAL-NWA combination would allow such potential competition to be created. Kim Welch

Synthetic Vision QOTW

Regarding the Question of the Week on reader views of synthetic vision (QOTW, Apr. 17): I think there are two aspects of synthetic vision that most are overlooking:
  1. Highway in the sky would all but eradicate CFIT and reduce or eliminate instrument approach procedures being flown incorrectly; and
  2. The next logical step is obstacle depiction. Bouncing off the big ball (earth) or things attached to it (obstacles) still accounts for 51 percent of maneuvering accidents for SEF GA (AOPA Air Safety Foundation Nall Report, 2007). Generally, these accidents are fatal.
Let's keep the developers at work: Support synthetic vision! W.C. Smith
This QOTW is a subject that I think four predefined questions won't address. I would like to see some informative articles in the future on the technology and what it might mean for aviation going forward. For my own part, I liken synthetic vision (SV) to GPS technology. On the face of it, it provides great situational awareness and, for IFR flight, a way into airports that previously didn't have an approach. But the dark side of this technology is that people look at it instead of looking out the window and navigational skills outside of GPS go right out the window as a result. I'm concerned about SV creating a possible situation where VFR pilots will scud-run in marginal or IFR conditions simply because now they can see the terrain, which -- as you can imagine -- creates a hazard for IFR flights. As far as an aid for the IFR pilot: I can't imagine flying single-pilot IFR with this tech and still keeping my scan going. It seems to me it would be a distraction from the job at hand. Phil Seizinger

Daytime Rotating Beacon

Regarding Brainteaser #132: There was a call for comments in the last year for suggestions to revise the FARs and ATC manual. As a retired controller, I recommended the deletion of the paragraph that dictates the airport rotating beacon be activated during daylight hours to indicate less-than-VMC conditions when ATC has control of the beacon. What kind of standardization is this? Some towers do it, some don't. How would a visiting pilot know? The beacon is not likely to be visible from all locations on the airport surface. This procedure is a carryover from the days before ATIS and possibly even before radio use was required of VFR aircraft [at tower-controlled airports]. Does it accomplish anything? Would anyone miss it? Jim Schmidt

Sun 'n Fun Photos 2008

Wow! You guys really over did yourselves. Only two (actually one and a half ... the second one is so small) photos of powered parachutes (PPCs) at the recent Sun 'n Fun 2008. This clarifies the prejudices against this form of aviation. Your motto should be, "If it doesn't have fixed wings, who cares?" I challenge you and your team to bring PPCs into your view (news, photos, stories, etc.) and see more of these types of machines, flights and the pilots who fly them. Brent L. Boggs

AVweb Replies:

It's a two-way street, Brent. I can't recall receiving anything from the PPC sector updating us on news, issues or events before or during SNF, whereas we received hundreds of items from most other sectors. (Can't recall anything from trike or gyro folks, either.)

We do try to keep an eye out for interesting news from all areas but, like all media, rely to a certain extent on information provided to us. Thanks for the note.

Russ Niles

F-16 Intercept In the MOA

As a follow-up to the MOA response by Gary Rolf (ATIS, Apr. 17), I would only add that I could not agree more. I wanted to respond to the discussion of MOA's and the misconception that this airspace somehow belong to, or is the exclusive domain of the military. I am a 11,000+ hour airline captain and a GA pilot. The antics of the F-16 pilot, as originally reported, really alarmed me. In the U.S., civilians have to stand up to the government and the military or we will continue to have our rights and privileges eroded. Well done, and well said, Mr. Rolf Jeff Darnall
Just because it is legal to fly in MOA, doesn't make it smart. MOAs were set aside to allow our military to effectively train ... hence the name "Military Operations Area." By making it an MOA, we as GA pilots are able to transit safely when not active. Entering an active MOA shows a lack of good judgment and airmanship, in my opinion. Did I hear correctly the aircraft that was intercepted was carrying passengers? Do they know the pilot was putting their lives at risk entering an active MOA? Matt Navorian
Bravo to Gary Rolf for his guest commentary on the MOA issue. There are vast areas of restricted airspace in the southwest for the military to practice in. If we are to follow the suggestions of some and treat MOAs like restricted airspace, there will be an awful lot of inaccessible airspace in this part of the world. In addition to power, I also fly gliders. I spend a lot of the summer cross-country soaring in and around MOAs. I've had similar experiences with close encounters with fighter aircraft. The fighter jock may have thought it safe and entertaining, but I sure didn't! Mike Wills
It seems that we are tar-and-feathering these blue suiters before judge and jury have even convened! The GA pilot claims that they were tucked in tight and the F-16 guys claim 600 to 1000 feet. Let's see the data! To this 11,000-hour, ex-Navy pilot, 500 feet isn't formation flying! If they were within the "bubble," then they should be reprimanded, but let's not make criminals out of them. A painful smack should be enough gain their attention and prevent future transgressions, but don't throw away many thousands of dollars worth of training and create "timid" fighter pilots. Oh, and, next time, find a restricted area! Tom Clarke
Thank you, Gary Rolf. I just hope Paul Bertorelli can be open-minded enough to pay close attention. I am afraid Paul may have been associating too much with the kind of jocks who can get you killed. I wonder if his mother ever told him that his friends could influence him ... for better or worse. It takes a strong person to stand up for what's right. Gary appears to be that strong person. May Paul gain strength from him. Susan Simmons

AVweb Replies:

I don't know who Paul was associating with on this, but I do know he's paying attention. After all, when Gary Rolf emailed Paul with an extensive rebuttal of Paul's blog, Paul told me to print it as a full-up opinion piece on AVweb. Which is what you read.

And Paul asked the AVweb Newsteam to follow up with the Air Force and get more details about the encounter.

Kevin Lane-Cummings
Features Editor

I applaud the article written by Gary Rolf. I too am retired USAF and live in New Mexico where MOAs cover a large part of the Southwestern skies. As a commercial pilot, I have worked in MOAs and been near-missed by Air Force pilots who had no idea how close they came to a collision. When I phoned the Air Force Base, I was asked, "What were you doing in the MOA?" I also identified the markings on the jet, which only could be seen within a few hundred yards. I only wanted the pilots to look outside once in awhile to see "what they were missing." MOAs are also COAs (civilian operations areas). Richard Woodsum
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