Politics as usual???
  From The South Ramp --Hank Bruckner
Article from the April 2000 edition of the GACH newsletter 
 
On Your Toes
The FAA, looking to save some money, is examining the idea of cutting the Aviation Safety Program by 50% or more.  It's an old and tired story: when funding is perceived to be short of the desired level, headquarters looks to cut activities that are deemed nonessential or marginal or just  not well understood.  Aviation safety is one of those areas that defy sensical quantification.  Accident rates are expressed in terms of per 100,000 hours of flight time but that number is little more than a WAG.  It is largely arrived at by the annual surveys that are sent out to some aircraft owners, and certainly isn't the sort of number you'd want to pin your life on.   Moreover, an accident prevented is a non-quantifiable nonevent that didn't happen.  I personally believe that the vigorous Accident Prevention Program we've enjoyed for years in Hawai'i is responsible for a great many of those nonevents.  

Of course, one way to find out would be to cancel or curtail the program and see if the rate goes up.  That's like painting over cross walks to see if pedestrian fatalities increase.  That is lousy science; however, it may be good politics.  "Good" as in "expedient," not as in "desirable."  The Administration has been shot down by Congress yet again on the issue of user fees.  The Administration/FAA was trying to build a case for more funding, and thus, the need for user fees.  Cut the Safety Program, accidents go up, as does public outcry, and, lo and behold, more funding.  Cynical?  You bet.  Accurate?  I really hope not.  Unthinkable?  Unfortunately, no.   So, what can (should) you do?  Well, if you haven't done so already, write a letter to Mr. Peter Beckner, Manager of the Honolulu Flight Standards District Office, 135 Nakolo Place, Honolulu, HI 96819, and express your concerns.  Also wouldn't hurt to attend the safety meetings on the island of your choice.  Continued safety education is a necessary part of your development as a pilot, regardless of the number or type of hours in your log book.  Washington needs to understand that we pilots and maintenance technicians take our avocation seriously.  In the meantime,  AOPA is aware and watching, as well.   Are you a member?

Kalaupapa Fly-in
Six brave crews fought near-perfect weather and slogged their way to Kalaupapa for our annual fly-in.  After battling severe clear, light-to-moderate winds and a treacherously smooth ride, the hardy few enjoyed the comfort and camaraderie of lunch in the terminal and some spectacular hydraulics as the swells crashed onto the north shore lava in a display that rivalled any 4th of July.   Seriously.  Kalaupapa is a supremely beautiful, and to me, spiritual, place, and it is a real privilege to be able to experience it.   Jim Phillips, the seventh brave soul, set out from Hilo in his Taylorcraft, but the rest of us had gone by the time he made it.  That Taylorcraft is a classic beauty, but it isn’t fast, even downwind.  Bet the trip home was fun, too!  Sorry we missed you, Jim.

Air-21
The much-fought over bill to unlock the Aviation Trust Fund and force its use for its intended purposes finally made it through Congress and the President has signed it.  This bill will free up about $40 billion in Trust Fund money for airport and airways improvements.  Much of this money has been held hostage by the Administration and/or Congress for years and used to make the deficit look smaller, pay FAA operating expenses, and mostly not be authorized for expenditure (that's why the fund is so huge).  The bill also will include the "Hoover Bill" that will put some limits on the FAA's ability to take your certificate.  AOPA, EAA and many more organizations were at the forefront of the battle.  Ultimately, we will all benefit as money collected from aviation taxes and passenger seat taxes will go toward the aviation-related purposes for which they were collected--specifically, to airports and facilities modernization.  Cool, huh?  Those of you who wrote, called, faxed, emailed in support did good.   Those of you who didn't; well, you got by, this time.

What’s Next?
According to Avweb, U.S. Representative James V. Hansen (R-UT) has introduced H.R. 3661, the "General Aviation Access Act," that seeks to ensure continued access to federal lands and the airspace above them for general aviation aircraft.  Moreover, the new bill seeks to posture the FAA as the sole authority for making decisions regarding the use of airspace.  The bill has won the immediate support of NATA and AOPA, both of which expressed similar opinions regarding the minimal disruptive influences of such activities in these areas.  As you’ve read in these spaces before, there have been continued initiatives to reduce and even eliminate all overflights of National Parks, including those in Hawai'i by various factions, including our Congressional delegation.  This new bill would reemphasize the preeminence of the FAA as the manager of US airspace.  Early and widespread support for this bill would benefit us all.

Hope on the Horizon?
In what has to be some of the best news for Hawai'i aviators and businesspeople alike, Russ Francis has declared his intent to run for Congress to replace Patsy Mink.  Russ is passionate about aviation and small businesses.  If you live in the 2nd Congressional District, please give serious thought to supporting his candidacy.  We need him.

 Looming Crisis
 Those of us who operate aircraft commercially, especially multiengine aircraft, are facing a looming crisis with insurance coverage.  Increasingly, owners are receiving notices of nonrenewal from their insurance carriers who are becoming unwilling to insure twins that are used commercially.  The root of the problem is Hawai'i’s “deep pocket” status that allows the party most able to pay (usually the insurance company) to do so, regardless of degree of fault.  We are one of only a small handful of states that still have this archaic and unfair practice, and this is why all insurance is so expensive here compared to anywhere else in the US.  Because the aviation market is relatively small, carriers just don’t want to write policies here, given the increased risk of having to pay.  And when they do, the premiums are exorbitant.  All the talk of insurance reform here has sidestepped this essential issue, without which there can be no real reform.  Deep Pocket affects all insurance, not only aviation.  Contact your elected representatives at all levels and press for reform.

 Stone Walls
 Meanwhile, despite all the rhetoric about helping businesses being thrown around the legislature and councils, things don’t change much in the real world we live in.  Many of you know first hand how hard it is to get approvals to do most anything here.  They don’t call it an entrenched bureaucracy for no reason.  It took Pat Magie over seven years to be allowed to set up his first class, but small seaplane operation, and more and more hurdles keep popping up in front of him.   He’s not alone.
Jim Straube has been trying to set up a shop to paint aircraft—something that is desperately needed in this state.  Jim is no fly-by-night.  He’s a professional and knows exactly what it will take to do it right.   He requested to set up in the big hangar at Kalaeloa Airport, and at first met with a positive response from the state.   At first.  Since then, he’s met nothing but delays, hesitation and vacillation. Here’s a person who is willing to pay rent, run a sorely-needed business, and also set up an FBO offering a range of services.  I don’t understand why he can’t get a decision.  Heck, he might even attract some folk to move from HNL to JRF.  I hope it doesn’t take him seven years.

Practice IFR
Some folks will practice instrument approaches to some of our smaller airports under VFR conditions without availing themselves of Center's services.  Keeps it very simple.  Except that it can put you in direct conflict with someone flying the approach on an IFR flight plan who is working with Center.  Lana'i is probably the place this happens most often, with its shiny new ILS complete with DME arcs, stepdowns, and lead radials.   Here's the scenario:  Center has cleared you to intercept the 10 DME arc and then cleared  you for the approach.  After intercepting the localizer, he mentions that there is slower traffic ahead, same direction,  that he's not talking to.  Sure enough, a mile ahead of you is a Cessna that is 20 knots slower, apparently also tracking the localizer on the approach, who is monitoring the CTAF frequency (good) but not Center (not good).  Thus, he/she had no way of knowing you were also on the approach and bearing down on their blind spot.  Center would obviously not have cleared two aircraft on the approach at once, since it might violate that prime tenet of aviation, Do Not Scratch The Paint.  In this example, Center didn't want to release me to go to CTAF (to talk to the other aircraft) because they were concerned about our separation and they are supposed to keep IFR aircraft from scratching their paint.  I finally prevailed on the frequency change and the other aircraft and I were able to work it out amongst ourselves.  Fortunately, we were both in VMC conditions, Center had radar contact on the other guy, and we got a visual in time to do something about it.  That isn't always the case.  Bottom line:  if you are going to practice approaches under VFR on your own, at least monitor Center as well as CTAF so that you'll know who might be behind you.  If I'd been a Dash-8 or 737, a TCAS alert and subsequent Resolution Advisory would have happened, and the airliner would have had to go around (RA's are not optional).  Keeping it simple is great as long as it doesn't get too complicated.

It's a Wash
The road to Hell is paved with good intentions, and we're on our way.  Let me back up a little.  The polluting effects of runoff into the ocean around our isles has long been a concern of both the EPA and the state.  However, in order to mollify the EPA, it is now illegal for us to wash our aircraft anywhere but at a washrack.  Washracks have separators that supposedly allow only water to run off into the drains.  The fact that the only washrack on the entire south ramp at HNL has a perennially-clogged drain is immaterial.  That's the only place you can wash the salt off your bird at HNL.  Similar problems exist at other state airports.  Recently, a person was taken to task for rinsing off a glider at Dillingham.  That's right.  A glider.  That's just silly.  Fact is, salt is highly corrosive and the only way to try to keep an aircraft airworthy is to wash it frequently.     Of course, when it rains, my Seneca gets wet and the rain runs off, just like it does off every other aircraft parked outside at any airport in the state.  As it happens, the ramp where I park has two low spots that pool water and it never makes it to the storm drain anyway until it is a real gully-washer.  (Water from the clogged drain on the washrack, however, does make it to the drain.)   Rather than come out with a sensible requirement for using biodegradable, environmentally-friendly detergents, the simpler course was to just ban the practice.  If we are really serious about ending runoff pollution, separators should be installed at the discharge end of the storm drains.  That way, you catch it all, regardless of source.  This is a serious safety issue and I hope reason will eventually prevail so we can continue to wage the fight against rust and corrosion.  Any bets?

 Preserve History
 The Military Aviation Museum of The Pacific is rapidly becoming a reality at Ford Island.  The plan is to establish a world-class museum documenting the rich military aviation heritage in the Pacific from the very beginnings of powered flight to the present.  The facility would stretch from the water/control tower to the seaplane ramp and include the three hangars on that side.  Aviation from all the services, past and present, will be represented fully. A great deal of work lies ahead, but a very talented and dedicated team is fully engaged and this exciting project is brimming with promise and potential.  Stay tuned.  We may very well need you.
           
 Déjà vu, All Over Again 
 The skies above Ford Island have again heard the roar of  big piston engines and seen the flash of the Rising Sun as Disney shoots its latest WWII saga.  Three real A6M Zero fighters, one with the original Nakajima Sakae 21 engine, are here for the filming, along the Vals and Kates from Tora, Tora, Tora, four P-40s (real, not fiberglass), a T-28 and a B-25.  The historical irony of having three authentic Zeros land at Ford was not lost on at least some of the movie pilots.  Those of you who have visited or flown over Ford will also have noticed a few structures built for the movie that will be blown up during the production.   Regardless of how well the movie turns out, sharing our precious skies with these historic aircraft has been a privilege.  I hope the movie does come out well, as it will likely be the last one of its type made there..

 Hana Fly-In
This year’s Hana Fly-In has been moved to Saturday, the 24th of June to accommodate conflicting, immutable commitments.  Please mark your calendars.  There will again be trophies for the Accuracy Landing Event, and a great opportunity to share aviation with friends in a fantastic setting.  Y’all come, now, hear?

Be careful out there.