Top Letters And Comments, February 15, 2019


We’re Way Better Than We Used To Be

“I also wonder if the age of the serious, hardcore scofflaw has all but passed.” Age….our pilot population is aging. The ranks are not getting re-populated with a proportional young age demographic. The aviation pioneers of the twenties and thirties were replaced with tens of thousands of 20 something WWII and Korean War vets. Today the GA 65-80 year old active pilots are being replaced with largely GA 40-60 year old “kids.”

I see our early aviation pioneers not as avid risk takers, instead as thoughtful, well prepared, and experienced people who calculated the risks and made a decision it was acceptable. Lindbergh did not fly a duct taped, baling wire airplane from New York to Paris. He flew the latest technology put together by craftsmen. Roscoe Turner did not fly some sort of contraption depending on a wing and a prayer to be the fastest. Jimmy Doolittle flew all the latest, newest, and best designed airplanes that existed. The Granville brothers did not build “junk.” Delmar Benjamin vindicated them quite conclusively. The Mercury and Apollo programs were not designed, engineered, constructed, and flown with duct tape and safety wire. Even the Wright brothers amassed a huge amount of information to calculate, build, and fly their airplane. They too, applied the latest and best technology to come up with a workable, repeatable, and as safe as the time and engineering permitted…flying machine.

Today, we have 3D modeling, CAD designed airplanes, virtual reality computer simulations, to test, re-test, and then “fly” without leaving terra firma. Our homebuilts today, with CNC duplication and matched hole drilling, taking advantage of the latest technology and engineering are far from “amateur” designed and constructed. Aviation, as a whole, has simply gotten better in about every way imaginable. We have gotten the risks down so well that we advertise rides in B-17’s, B-29’s, P-51’s, etc… that when first built had a useful life of about 250 hours before it was to be overhauled. Our new technology has made those limitations truly a ‘thing of the past.” Our training has improved. Our situational awareness opportunities are unparalleled.

With all of this and more, it seems quite logical that things have become safer. Yes, there is always some nut job who thinks they are immune to physics, defy regulations, hate authority, lack common sense, and care less about their fellow citizens when they fly. But an aging pilot population has a way of weeding them out too simply by the inevitable attrition. They will never be totally eradicated. Aviation has been like a fine wine. The older it gets the better it is.

Jim Holdeman

Read your article with great interest and as I got deeper into it, I began to wonder if you would go to a subject that I’ve been interested in for some time. Our societal tolerance for risk.

You did brush on it and how it’s changed our attitudes and the fact that we have fewer “scofflaw and duct tape types” in GA….. and… Don’t get me wrong. I think that’s a good thing… but it is my opinion that we, as a society, have become obsessed with safety. Certainly no one likes to see anyone hurt or injured but think about the activities that were recreational in the USA and are now under attack.

Start with auto and motorcycle racing. The quest for zero injuries and deaths was certainly accelerated with the death of Dale Earnhardt but it has now changed the sport. How about football (the concussion obsession). I could go on, but you get the idea.

We bemoan the decline of aviation as a private activity and we give all sorts of excuses…. cost being the major one…. but it’s my opinion that our younger generations have been raised with such an aversion to risk (observe helicopter parents at any gathering) that they prefer to fly drones or worse yet… virtual reality video games. I’m really concerned about this societal change. I think it’s permeated our whole existence and the change is not for the better. I’ll even go so far as to mention the feminization of boys and the suppression of boy’s natural tendencies to do things that are now considered risky. I know that’s a touchy subject, so I’ll leave it there.

Gerry McCarley

Making GA Safety Policy

In today’s AVWeb “Making GA Safety Policy” Robert Wright, like many at the FAA, appears to be leading from the rear when he points out electronic flight instrumentation and AOA indicators as examples of how the FAA has innovated safety reforms in general aviation. They were way behind industry (as well as pilots) on these issues, preferring to take a bow for someone else’s efforts. I remember similar enthusiasm decades ago for the microwave landing system as the FAA’s fix for airspace congestion, along with their glacial speed in recognizing runway capacity as the chokepoint for air carrier efficiency.

Also, the switch from PTS to ACS standards has certainly been one of unproven value, and is hardly embraced as ground-breaking by those advocating better cockpit airmanship and judgement. I cannot recall any CFI “spoon feeding” me information. He ought to be commending their work and creating ways to make their efforts more effective.

The FAA’s refusal to move on topics like revising technical standard orders, forecast icing weather products, part 23 manufacturing standards, and resistance to accept new medical standards for GA pilots has done far more to characterize this anachronistic bureau.

Lastly, how many FAAST seminars really teach you something new? I’d submit that most pilots consider their subject matter as a simple review of material available in any current text.

Let’s hope that Mr. Wright is on to something with these GA safety measures. I, myself, have learned to “wait and see” when it comes to the FAA.

Chase Burnett

$10,000 EFIS Upgrade

My option for my 185 was two G5s, a GMU-11 magnetometer (removed vacuum system), GTX345 (ADS-B in/out) with a GNS530 and Flightstream 210 Bluetooth ForeFlight connectability. Great capability and added redundancy without an entirely new panel design. 12# more useful load, too.

Manny Puerta

$10,000 for the cost of an EFIS isn’t all that unreasonable. “If” it’s installed into a new homebuilt or production aircraft. But to remove perfectly functioning instruments for the engine, and flight instruments seems too wasteful to me. Also, that cost doesn’t include communications radios. Transponders, ADS-B. When the additional cost of ordering the probes for the engine(s) is added in, it’s going to be more than $10K. Plus the situational awareness provided by an EFIS isn’t as needed for some pilots as it is for others. If they need it, by all means they should have it. Synthetic vision may just help someone from flying into terrain. I’m fine with an iPad. But others might have their life saved by synthetic vision. If I were going that route, I’d install a Garmin G3X in my Glasair 3. But it’s a lot of work.

Richard May