AVmail: August 8, 2011 »

Letter of the Week: Things Will Be Better If Pilots Pay Regarding the user fee issue : As a group, aircraft owner/operators are among the most affluent members of society. We should never have been on the government dole and should always have been paying for every service we get. This is necessary not only as a matter of equity, but we must have control of the "services" offered. Free enterprise should be allowed to provide WX, traffic, ATC, whatever. Cell phones automatically and invisibly change frequencies and power levels constantly. Why in this age should we have government workers telling us when to make frequency changes? We are held back by government's inability to adapt to the times. If we were paying, we would demand efficiency. So, for both reasons, we should pay. Darryl Phillips Click through to read the rest of this week's letters. More

AVmail: July 18, 2011 »

Letter of the Week: EASA's Threat to the U.S. You highlight the fact that LSA are going to suffer under the EASA regime. Sadly, this is just one of many, many actions being taken by EASA that will damage light GA both in Europe and worldwide. Perhaps the biggest impact will be the changes to licensing laws, which will require any resident of the European Union to have to hold a valid EASA license and ratings for the flight being undertaken. One can now fly on an FAA license in an FAA-registered aircraft anywhere in Europe (as a resident or not). We have a large number of FAA-registered aircraft in Europe operated by people that have only FAA licenses for a variety of reasons. When this new legislation comes into force (sometime between April 2012 and April 2014), it will effectively ground a lot of people, particularly FAA instrument-rated pilots. It will also render their aircraft effectively useless. There are bound to be a large number of aircraft for sale in an already depressed and arguably saturated market, and many of these aircraft will be unsaleable in Europe as they will have modifications that are not approved by EASA and will therefore end up back in the U.S. and being dumped on the market for whatever the seller can get. So not only will EASA destroy GA in Europe but also do potentially irreparable damage [to] the U.S. market and possibly the world market in the process. It is estimated that more than 10 percent of the European GA fleet is currently on the FAA register, probably several thousand aircraft. Why is this happening? Well, I am not close to the detail, but from what I understand it is all about some ridiculous tit-for-tat dispute between EASA and the FAA. The issue for all of us is that this is probably the beginning of the end of GA in Europe, and it could do a lot of harm to the value of your asset in the U.S. Geoff Semler Click through to read the rest of this week's letters. More

AVmail: July 4, 2011 »

Letter of the Week: Questionable Question AVweb 's current "Question of the Week" and the choices listed reveal a fundamental misunderstanding about what a depreciation allowance tax benefit is and what it accomplishes. Rather than serving as a bailout as the editors' choices imply, depreciation is a win-win for individual companies and the U.S. economy. Giving companies tax breaks for capital investments serves to encourage them to replace older equipment or buy needed assets for growth, while generating ripple-effect increases in economic activity. This is why depreciation allowances have received overwhelming bipartisan support in Congress for many decades and also why President Obama and Congress enthusiastically supported accelerating depreciation last year for capital investments, including spending for business aircraft. Buying a plane for business is no different than buying a new machine to expand a business. And don't forget that the vast majority of business aircraft owners and operators are the small-to-mid-size companies that are vital to our nation's global economic competitiveness. They even read AVweb . So you can image our disappointment at seeing such a dependable GA news source buy into rhetoric designed to secure politically expedient headlines. Mike Nichols Vice President - Operations, Education & Economics National Business Aviation Association Click through to read the rest of this week's letters. More

AVmail: June 27, 2011 »

Letter of the Week: Food First There's been so much hype about biofuels, which are a technology that cannot at present make even a dent in our fossil fuel usage and put enormous pressure on both the ecosystem and food prices. It's time to inject a dose of realism by demonstrating the scale of the issue, so here are some facts and figures, all of which are freely available. ... [You'll have to click through to read the full Letter of the Week.] ... I'm not anti-biofuels. There should be a place for them in our fuel economy; however, we need to do so in such a way that they will not take food from hungry mouths and drive up food prices. Like it or not, the reality of the situation is that we will be putting fossil fuels in our airplanes for a good while yet until substantial research and development produce viable green energy solutions. Food first, fuel second! Greg Dolph Click through to read Greg Dolph's full letter and other communiques from our mailbag. More

AVmail: June 20, 2011 »

Letter of the Week: Egos Shot Down Regarding the story about the Pakistani F-16s beating the Typhoons in air-to-air combat : I used to run an Air Combat Maneuvering Instrumentation and Electronic Warfare Range. We had many instances of older airframes with crews that had prepared meeting with the latest fashion airframes with crews that showed up expecting a cake walk and didn't prepare [only to have] their hats handed to them. I remember one exercise where a group of ANG F-16 Air Defense Fighters from Duluth, Minnesota cleaned up a group of active-duty F-15Cs, much to their dismay and distress. The 15s were escorting a strike package of mixed aircraft. They never made it to the range on day one. The F-16 ADF guys had been to the ACMI/EW range practicing employment every day for a month. When the starting bell rang, they employed flawlessly. The AD Eagle drivers showed up expecting to walk all over them, and they hadn't practiced. If it was for real, they would have died on day one, with no chance for improvement. As it was, they got a second chance, then a third and midweek started to turn things around. By the end of the week, they were winning, bombs on target, getting home alive. Training makes all the difference. If you're an ego driver, not an efficient fighter pilot, you may not notice that until the ego has taken a few shots. Thor Lt. Col., Ret. Click through to read the rest of this week's letters. More

AVmail: June 13, 2011 »

Letter of the Week: A Great Commute I enjoyed the article about Gordon Boettger's flight. While working at NASA JPL in Pasadena, CA and building my hangar and business in Fallon, NV for three years I commuted on many weekends between KWHP near Burbank, CA and KFLX, Fallon, NV. I made about 100 round trips. At least half of them were direct GPS route which takes you right down the middle of the Sierra Nevadas. I would make it a point to always be about 2000' above the highest peaks I intended to fly over. I did them both day and night. I made many of these trips up there when the wind over the Sierras was up to 65 Kts. FSS virtually always had a sigmet for moderate to severe turbulence below 18K'. I found that to be the exception rather than the rule. I would not be up there if there were lenticular clouds hovering over the mountains. And sometimes there was light turbulence. There was almost always some light wave action. I found that there were considerably more opportunities to fly up there in the winter months than in summer. Cold air seems to lay right down on the mountains. A couple of thousand feet above thre was virtually no turbulence. I have never seen another airplane up there. I have flown this trip in both my 0-360 powered Cruisair and my 0-360 powered Geronimo. And yes, you can soar a Geronimo up there sometimes. I have pulled it back to idle and enjoyed good lift for streches of up to maybe five minutes. Try it; you'll like it. Kent Tarver Click through to read the rest of this week's letters. More

AVmail: June 6, 2011 »

Letter of the Week: Airbuses Fly "Like a Video Game" I would like to offer my comments and perspective with regard to the Air France Flight 447 accident . I have been a A-330 captain since 2003 and have over 4500 hours in the aircraft. While many A-320 pilots undoubtedly have more series time, I believe this probably makes me one of the most experienced A330 pilots in the world. ... Name Withheld Editor's Note: We have spoken with the writer of this letter to confirm his identity and honored his request for anonymity. Click through to read the rest of this week's letters. More

AVmail: May 30, 2011 »

Letter of the Week: Is It All a Dream? The Pipistrel Panthera sounds great , a dream — what we've been waiting for all these years.  Is it real, an IO-390-powered version soon and hybrid or electric in 2013? If so, why can't I see a real picture now, not an artist's rendering? I'm hopeful but suspicious. I've had this giddy feeling before.  Cirrus said they were going to build a true four-seater with 160 knots' cruise for $120,000.  Well, they built the plane, but not at that price point.  I think it started at $170,000 and is probably double that now.  Clearly there's a market for these, but where's my affordable 150-knot cruiser that burns less than 10gph? Ed Hunt Click through to read the rest of this week's letters. More

AVmail: May 23, 2011 »

Letter of the Week: Gender Shift Explained Regarding the story " Gender Shift In Aviation ": There's an explanation in the footnotes. In the tables published by the FAA in 2010, I did take notice of the big jump in the total number of women pilots from 36,808 in 2009 to 42,218 in 2010. When I noticed that most of the increase was driven by a 74% increase of women student pilots, I was even more excited. ... However, as one of 5,580 women pilots holding ATP certificates in 2010 (just 3.9% of all ATP certificates), I have been well trained to always read the small notes, and they clearly explain that the jump in number of student pilot certificates is due to the change in duration of the student pilot certificate from 24 months to 60 months. ... Some claim that women will never constitute 50% of the aviation population for various reasons. 100 years ago, similar claims were made when only 5% of car drivers were women. However, today, a little over 50% of the people holding a driver's license are women. Just as the illusion of safety in GA recently discussed in AVweb is believed to hamper the popularity of aviation among the general population, I believe that the illusion of significant progress in terms of the participation of women could deter the much-needed industry effort to encourage more women to participate. Mireille Goyer Click through to read the full text of our "Letter of the Week" and other mail from AVweb readers. More

AVmail: May 16, 2011 »

Letter of the Week: Apathy Is the Real Threat to GA Regarding the " Question of the Week ": I am a 56-year-old pilot but with only 14 years and 1,500 hours behind me. It may be my relatively recent introduction to aviation, or just my naiveté, [but] I truly believe the biggest threat to aviation can be summed up in one word, and that's apathy . Think about what are the most powerful forces keeping general aviation alive: innovation, the passion of flight, camaraderie and the intellectual and physical challenge of piloting an airplane. It seems within minutes of landing my mind is considering how my next flight will be even better. I think about planning it [and] who I can have join me. I think about how I can plan my next dual session to improve my skills. All of the options you listed as "threats" to GA are legitimate, but why aren't these simply annoyances? What makes them so ominous as to be a challenge to the very existence of GA? To me, apathy is the most threatening, life-sucking enemy to the continued health of GA. It is what turns what should be approachable challenges like the 100LL transition [into] a potentially game-ending problem. The veritable silence caused by the lack of growth (and youth) in GA is truly the threat which I fear the most. Anthony Nasr Click through to read the rest of this week's letters. More