Top Letters And Comments, December 21, 2018

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Are Towered Airports Safer?

Overall, I consider towered airports to be safer. However, that is due mainly to the fact that they provide order to traffic procedures that does not always exist at nontowered fields. Plus, they normally handle larger aircraft with more experienced pilots who are accustomed to following directions from controllers. In my case, I fly from a class D airport with a tower and one runway. It handles a 50-50 mix of larger (jet and turboprop) aircraft and smaller light single and twin planes. The controllers are a huge help in coordinating landings between the two types. Without the positive control, mixing the two types of aircraft could be extremely hazardous.

Uncontrolled airports can be equally safe, provided everyone follows proper procedures and all parties clearly (and concisely) communicate their position and intentions. One thing to keep in mind at a towered airport is that the controllers do not relieve the pilot from spotting and avoiding other aircraft. The Mark One Eyeball is still the primary tool for collision avoidance no matter where you fly.

John McNamee

The poll is not well configured - the possible answers don't necessarily relate to the question being asked. For example: I believe towered airports are safer, yes - but I do not prefer them. Depending on variables such as traffic and weather, non-towered airports are perfectly acceptable to me.


Tecnam P2012 and Cape Air

I wanted to reach out in response to the piece on our progress with the P2012 Traveller. We appreciate the coverage, as this is an important and exciting project for Cape Air and Tecnam. However, referring to our current fleet of 402s as "worn-out" is not a fair or accurate description. We have a phenomenal team of technicians who maintain these aircraft to standards that exceed industry standard. While the association of the 402 as an aircraft from 30 years ago is common, our fleet is regularly overhauled and rebuilt.

Safety is the primary focus of Cape Air, so it is important for us that the condition of our existing fleet (which will continue to be used alongside the Tecnam), is fairly depicted for our customers, and the Cape Air associates who devote themselves to upholding our standards.

Trish Lorino, VP of Marketing & PR, Cape Air

Lion Air

Paul's excellent Lion Air dust-up invites a response: The Problem, The Solution, The Bottom Line.

The Problem: The delicate act of blending Economics, Culture, and Gravity.

Economics: Back in the fifties, Ferrari wouldn't sell a GTO unless the owner could handle its performance. But then, Enzo didn't have to satisfy stockholders. Poor Sonicare expects their customers to use product to protect teeth, not use as a bedroom vibrator. Expectations are a tricky thing and difficult to control.

Culture: Minster Lacon to George Smiley in Tinker, Tailor; "It's the oldest question of all, George, who can spy on the spies?" i.e., who can check on the Check Pilots. An Asian start up hired a Euro VP-Flt Ops who would not pass check rides for two would-be Management Check Captains. CEO sent Euro VP on long trip and promoted the two flunkees to Check Captain. Four B-727 Libyan trainees, all sons of ranking diplomats, couldn't keep a simulator on the jacks but excelled in debate. An airline way south of California has this philosophy; it's below a Captain's dignity to answer checklist challenges from a subordinate co-pilot. So, no checklist used. When scheduled for an American manufacturer's Sim Check; they simply didn't show up.

Gravity: That troublesome but consistent phenomenon that a pilot cannot bullshit, try as they might.

The Solution: Hire a CEO who chooses a VP-Flight Ops who chooses a Chief Pilot who chooses Check Captains with the integrity to call a Down a Down. An ass-chewing doesn't capture a pilot's attention like a Down in his personnel file. Sounds simple enough but golf and suck-up corridor jockeys foul the selection process.

The Bottom Line: An enormously complex question but ultimately simple; what is THE STANDARD; who decides it and who enforces it? The last line of defense in aviation safety (GA, Military, Commercial) is the Check Pilot. And the STANDARD? DON'T BEND THE METAL.

Gary Barnhill

Piper the Airport Dog

While it's appreciated that the featured story is Piper and the job he did, I'm thinking it should be mentioned that he passed away in January of this year of cancer. A fitting tribute to the hard-working border collie who helped keep us safe from wildlife strikes. Thank you for all the hard work to bring us news about the world of aviation!

Brian Hunnell

Bernoulli Had It All Wrong

Thank you for your article, “Wait, You Mean Bernoulli Had it All Wrong?” in the December 14, 2018 distribution of AVweb Flash. While I fully encourage questioning conventional wisdom and science and engineering principles, to use distortion and condemnation to push a point only myopically considered is not only unprofessional, but also undermines the veracity of the scientific process already under attack by those too ignorant and/or too greedy with vested interests to care about the truth.

James Rowe