AVmail: May 9, 2011 »

Letter of the Week: Cost Killing GA, Not Instruction I listened to your discussion ; however, you and AOPA are totally ignoring one of the biggest impediments to GA, namely the cost. The cost of GA has increased unbelievably in the last several years, and with the pressure on people from the other economic problems, something has to give. The answer touted for years was going to be the LSA class of aircraft, but they have turned out to be a joke. The cost/benefit for that class is a joke. Fuel costs are unbelievable and climbing faster than a speeding bullet. I know people who would love to become pilots, but the answer is the same: They can't afford it. I will agree that there are some flight schools and some flight instructors that are not good GA ambassadors, but when you find that, you simply go somewhere else. Cost is the real problem, and I think you already know it. Jim Wright Click through to read the rest of this week's letters. More

AVmail: April 25, 2011 »

Letter of the Week: Night Shift Is Too Big a Shift I remember hearing stories of the First World War and the fighting in the trenches and how French officers would tell their troops that if they were caught sleeping they would be shot. It meant nothing to them that the men involved had been awake for days. The impetus of a threat is limited to the ability of a person to overcome nature. You will probably never hear of a controller falling asleep during daylight hours. I have worked night shift in a hospital for most of 30 years. Regardless of the amount of sleep obtained during the day, the quality is not the same as what is gained by a good night's sleep. I also ran the sleep lab in the hospital where I work, where I discovered that there are many physiological aspects of sleep disorders, including imposed sleep disorders (like night shift) that the average laymen are unaware of. I have also been in the air traffic control facility in Palmdale, California, and the room where the controllers operate is always dark. Just try sitting in a dark room doing a repetitive task and see how difficult it is to stay awake. In my work environment, I find it necessary to stay on my feet and walk from one area of the hospital to another. I stay awake with no problem, but sit me down at a computer to attend to charting, and I have started nodding off. ... It is a very austere measure, resorting to firing someone for sleeping under these conditions. This is typical of the knee-jerk reaction our government is prone to have in order to give the appearance of doing something about a problem. Unless the individual has obtained a pillow of some sort or left his position at the control panel (i.e., showing intent to neglect one's duties by sleeping on the job), they should not be fired. There also may be consideration as to whether the controller has made a habit of sleeping. ... Sleep deprivation is used as torture. Believe me: That is exactly what night shift is. Sam Glasser Click through to read this letter in its entirety along with others from our readers. More

AVmail: April 18, 2011 »

Letter of the Week: More Equal About five years ago, I was returning to Van Nuys from Fresno in my Hawker Hunter after doing an Air Show there. After departing Fresno, I requested FL250, and Oakland Center replied by clearing me to FL230, which I acknowledged. But in my head I was still thinking FL250 and went right through 23,000 and leveled at 25,000. Oakland Center never said a word, nor did Los Angeles Center when I contacted them, requesting a descent into Van Nuys. Just as I was walking to my car, after putting the Hunter away, I got that magic message from someone in the office. "Hey, George, they want you to call ... ." Well, I ended up taking a 30-day suspension rather than fight the FAA since I didn't fly for a living, and it was no big deal. Now consider the recent story about Sen. James Inhofe and keep in mind that nothing has been done about it and no action was ever taken against him. My clear conclusion, as was written by George Orwell in his classic work Animal Farm , [is that] "all animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others." So, did I get it right? George Lazik Click through to read the rest of this week's letters. More

AVmail: April 11, 2011 »

Letter of the Week: Impromptu Not Necessarily Improper The " Question of the Week " really doesn't match the heading. Impromptu off-airport landings don't automatically translate to "landing where you shouldn't." The guy in New York should get his ticket suspended for a while at least for the simple reason that he misled ATC and (by extension) the emergency responders. However, what isn't clear in all the noise in the media is what regulations, laws, etc. were violated in the landing. Was the beach closed to aircraft by regulation? Was the landing dangerous due to people nearby? If the answers to the above questions are yes , then this impromptu landing should not have been made, and the pilot should be doubly scrutinized for misleading ATC. However, all "impromptu" off-airport landings don't trigger these issues. In many areas where I fly, the land is publicly owned, not closed to aviation activities, and, as long as one's skill and aircraft are suitable, off-airport landings are one of the really enjoyable aspects of flying. Clyde Lewis Click through to read the rest of this week's letters. More

AVmail: March 14, 2011 »

Letter of the Week: Better Testing Applauded Regarding the story about changes to FAA test questions, I recently took a practice knowledge exam for the CFI as an initial study guide, without doing any preparatory study. I passed in the mid-80s. As a professional educator, I would posit that if the FAA knowledge exams are legitimate testing tools, then any current, certificated pilot who has passed a thorough BFR within the past year should be able to achieve a passing score on the knowledge exam appropriate to that pilot's rating. After all, we use this material every time we fly, either explicitly or implicitly. To the extent that a current, active pilot population misses a certain bank of questions, those questions are simply not legitimate tests of the knowledge pertinent to being a skilled pilot. I'm sure we all have our favorite candidate questions in this category, like those about the obsolete analog instruments you've never flown behind or the E6B calculations rendered obsolete by calculators and GPS. Those are the questions that applicants usually memorize by rote, for the simple reason that they are not relevant to modern flight regimes. I would further posit that the test bank questions that resulted in increased failure rates were specifically those irrelevant questions that were passed simply by memorization. I applaud the FAA for attempting to modernize the knowledge test. If indeed the current questions are more relevant to the way we actually execute our flights in the 21st century, it will be a very good thing. Ideally, the revisions will now emphasize questions that demonstrate a fundamental understanding of basic principles, and thus there will be no further need for memorization of arcane information and cram courses that "teach the test." Karin Roland Click through to read the rest of this week's letters. More

AVmail: February 28, 2011 »

Letter of the Week: Success Without Incentives I have been reading all of the AVweb coverage recently about Embraer and the Melbourne area. I wanted to reach out to you about an aspect of Southeast Aerospace's presence in the Melbourne area. We are excited too about having Embraer as neighbors; however, they are not the only thing that has been happening at the Melbourne airport. Although we are a small business, we have thrived and grown into the world leader of avionics sales and service. We came to Melbourne in 1997 with one employee and now employ more than 100. We have never received government subsidies or airport incentives to move or remain at the Melbourne airport (unlike many others in the past and Embraer and AAR recently). We have continued to solicit employment opportunities (just as we are now), have hired, and have attracted many skilled personnel from out of state as well. Additionally, we have hired many local unskilled people and have trained them in this industry. Currently, our revenues are generated from over 60 percent international sales, so we are bringing tens of millions of dollars back into the U.S. economy and the Melbourne area, not just by generating local jobs. We are a family-owned and operated company with very low employee turnover and continued growth as we expand into different markets (air transport, engineering, special missions, etc.). It is our intention to continue to justifiably grow, expand, and remain in Melbourne. I know I am perhaps being boastful; however, I am proud of our growth, our employees, and the commitment we have made to the Melbourne area over the past 15 years. I realize that there may not be a great deal of juicy newsworthy content in this. However, as we continue to read how companies like Embraer and AAR are seemingly "saving" the Central Florida aerospace market and the Melbourne airport in particular, we would like for people to know that our company has been thriving on its own without incentives and government aid. Joe Braddock Southeast Aerospace Click through to read the rest of this week's letters. More

AVmail: February 21, 2011 »

Letter of the Week: NOTAMs Are for Everyone I just read the FAA's letter to Senator Inhofe with regard to his landing on a closed runway and his subsequent take-off from a taxiway in October. It's good that the Senator had to take some remedial training, but is this really going to cause an attitude adjustment on his part? His statement about most pilots ignoring the whole NOTAM picture does not reflect well on the rest of us. I mean, come on, how hard is it? When we get a briefing from DUATS, a whole list of NOTAMS comes up at the end. I always scan the huge list of en route NOTAMS, even though most turn out to be irrelevant to my flight. But I, and I'm sure most of us, give a good deal of attention to at least the departure and arrival NOTAMs. After ignoring the large X s, construction equipment, and workers on the runway and landing, [Inhofe] had the nerve to take off from a taxiway without permission from the airport management or FAA. Did he think that he was going to just sneak out, or did he think that he would just throw his position around and make it go away?! In this time of TFRs and hypersensitivity to aviation security, we must all do our homework diligently! I hope Inhofe never decides to visit AirVenture. Who knows if he would take the time to read that NOTAM! Steve Tobias Click through to read the rest of this week's letters. More

AVmail: February 14, 2011 »

Letter of the Week: GPS Threat Worth Considering In my opinion (which I believe to be fairly accurate on this subject given my 40+ years experience in electronics), the GPS interference threat posed by LightSquared's proposed network is a serious disaster in the making. Their position that a "properly filtered" GPS receiver won't suffer significant interference is technically true but ludicrous in reality. It's true that the technology exists to produce a filter that greatly attenuates signals in the frequency range they are intending to use while only marginally affecting GPS signals, but in the real world there are many big problems with that "solution." ... Lance Fisher Click through to read the rest of this letter and others from our mailbag. More

AVmail: January 31, 2011 »

Letter of the Week: A Plausible Threat? Do you think that our intelligence community might be a little behind the curve on the Chinese J-20 ? When photos were released of this new aircraft, they said it was only a mock-up and that China doesn't have the technology to produce a flyable aircraft of this caliber. When videos were released of this aircraft in flight, they said, "O.K., it flies, but it's not really stealthy." When one of these aircraft makes an undetected pass on a U.S. asset, I guess they'll finally admit that there might be something to this. After all, much of this information on stealth is available online, or they can just watch the History Channel or the Military Channel. Further, there is the admission that portions of an F-117 that was downed in Serbia were turned over to agents for the Chinese by the locals, which allowed some degree of reverse engineering to fill in the gaps. This would make the J-20's capabilities entirely plausible. Michael J. Nutt Click through to read the rest of this week's letters. More

AVmail: January 27, 2010 »

Letter of the Week: GPS Interference Your story about concerns over the use of personal/portable electronic devices aboard aircraft echoes my own concerns. ... When permitting the use of passenger electronic devices aboard aircraft, it is imperative that we consider not only the normal operating mode of such equipment but also any likely fault modes, including operator error. Does the "flight safe" mode of a cell phone actually work as advertised? Is the wi-fi in your laptop working only on the permitted frequencies? Furthermore, in the event of unexplained malfunctions of the aircraft avionics during a Cat-1 autoland, will there be time to make a PA call asking passengers to make sure everything is turned off? And will they listen? Just two days ago, I watched three separate flight attendants on their way to their "seats for landing" walk past a man sending text messages on his iPhone. Mike Ellis Click through to read the complete text of this letter and others from our readers. More