|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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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?
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
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.