A Continuing Look At The Obstacles We Face
Aero-Analysis/Commentary by James R. Campbell, ANN
"There is no limit to where a man can go or what a man can
do if he doesn't care who gets the credit"
I'm at a point in all this that I should cease being surprised
at the impressive response I get when I start a conversation with
the readers of ANN. Your input and commentary on Part 1 of this
obsessive rant was intriguing… and voluminous… and
pretty damned inspiring. Keep it up.
I've gotten some great ideas from you… and I'm adding
them to a doc that is in the works about all this… because
once I finishing my first round of bitching at what's wrong with
aviation, I'm going to have to start looking at the actions
necessary to bring solutions to them all… and I gotta tell
you, I'm getting kinda jazzed about that. I can't wait to tell you
why. But first, let's get back to where I left us a few days
ANN's Jim Campbell,
Editor-In-Chief/Professional Pain-In-The (Deleted)
When last I left you in Part One, I had noted that it was time
to truly fess up and deal with the fact that aviation is in a world
of hurt… that the mess around us was for
real and easily constituted the greatest threat to the
aviation world that it has ever known.
Polite 'genteel' measures will not save it.
We need to stand up and be counted… be active and refuse
to accept the damage that keeps piling up. Screw "getting along to
go along" - let's get in the faces of our opposition and make it
clear that aviation will not disappear -- but instead will fight to
remain free… and GROW!
No matter which segment of aviation you enjoy or work in, there
is trouble afoot... from the lightest Ultralights and LSAs to GA
and BizAv, to the airlines and the military (and don't even get us
started on aerospace... NASA, anyone?). Let's face it... the
aero-world is a mess and in some of the biggest trouble it's EVER
seen over the course of its short century-plus life... and while I
believe it can be fixed, we feel that the time for calm discussion
and polite discourse (that has been so typical of so much of
aviation) is WAY behind us.
The list of threats is ponderous and daunting. The government is
targeting many aspects of our biz, the economy is a mess and
aviation is even worse, we have a major fuel crisis coming, the
airlines have destroyed the once-glamorous persona of our aerial
transportation and substituted it with something that is even
less appetizing that 'Going Greyhound', NASA is directionless, LSAs
are over-priced/misunderstood/horribly marketed and going nowhere,
flight schools are moribund and disappearing at a fearsome rate,
airports are bcoming ghost towns, the associations are either
off-target/poorly run/leaderless/or just plain ineffective (at
everything but screwing their 'friends')... I could go on, but you
get the idea.
Yes, we're in a bit of a fix. Actually, let's be honest…
I don't think it's never been THIS screwed up before.
It's a freaking nightmare out there... and, as noted; we really
can't afford to be nice or calm about it. Not any more... that time
is SO long past. We need to be active, aggressive, organized and
smart if we are going to turn around an industry and a lifestyle
that has been under the gun for a number of decades and may never
recover if stern counter-measures aren't applied ASAP.
Last Friday, I started enumerated some of the threats we faced
-- Aero-Trials and Aero-Tribulations, I called
them -- problems, and issues that threaten our future. As noted,
I've got at least 20 of them (so far) and welcome you to comment on
these concepts… and offer your thoughts, suggestions,
feedback or otherwise identify other issues that deserve to be
added to the list. In identifying and discussing these issues, we
can then turn our attention to setting forth with plans to seek the
requisite solutions… and work with those in a realistic
position to affect those solutions.
PLEASE Let Me Hear From YOU!
OK… continuing in no particular order, let me present
ANN's second list of Aero-Trials and Aero-Tribulations-issues and
concepts we must face, survive and correct if aviation is to
"Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing
because he could only do a little."
We Must RETHINK/Reconfigure LSA/Affordable Flying Machine
Aviation is too damned expensive… and if we're going to
keep it safe and ever-evolving, that's not likely to change much
until we can score enough new pilots and business to being the
economies of scale down to a reasonable level.
That's going to take IMMENSE work… and will not happen
anytime soon. BUT, we do have part of an initial solution right
here at hand… one that has been over-hyped, manipulated by
some entities for their own purposes (and to the detriment of the
rest of the industry), poorly sold, bastardized, folded, spindled
and mutilated… to a point where it's not really doing much
of anything to bring new fliers to the fold. LSA should be a bright
shining star in our aerial game-plan… instead of the
dodderingly unstable, limping, industry it is right now.
And while we're at it… why are we killing off
Ultralights? Ultralights still represent a (largely) untapped
market that could easily eclipse the frenzy we saw in this market
segment in the 1980s. There was a time when Ultralights were all
the rage and there dozens of companies, and hundreds of designs out
there to choose… and tens of thousands of them were sold. We
need to learn from what worked and didn't work back then and build
the MOST basic entry-level aircraft ownership program yet. I know
hundreds of current pilots (some who are now turbine aircraft
owners) that started with these things… so don't tell me
that they didn't result in some kind of boost to the pilot
population. And while the subject is on the firing line... the FAA
sure appears ready and willing to kill these things off…
DON'T let them.
More important (and immediate), the LSA concept needs to be
rethought, properly defined, heavily promoted, carefully marketed
and aggressively supported… We need to look at the value
these airplanes bring to our industry and find ways to maximize it
wherever possible, while also being realistic about one over-riding
fact… aviation is not and never will be inexpensive…
so what we must do is build as much value into the LSA equation,
for the most value possible.
We haven't done it… and what we have right now is a mess
of (mostly) 'me, too' airplanes that cost too much for what they
provide. That's gotta change… and fast.
Give Back OUR Damned Airspace
When I started flying… 40 years ago (YIKES), there were
few places a flier could not venture and the rules and regs
involved in getting from Point A to Point B were practical and
somewhat reasonable. Now, however, our airspace is being ripped
away in greater and greater grabs that are becoming nearly
impossible to navigate without serious computer power. And it makes
less and less sense to even try without the amazing nav and
guidance capabilities we can cram into virtually any airframe in
this day and age -- at great expense and increased complexity.
For all the Federal 'bovine excretory byproduct' slung our way
about the need to protect our nation's capital and the thousands of
'incidents' that have occurred, it may (NOT) surprise you to learn
that each and every one of them involved an innocent pilot, of all
manners of experience and background, who wound up afoul of the
ever-growing, poorly concocted, convoluted, Rube Goldberg
monstrosity that surrounds OUR NATION's CAPITOL.In other words--NO
THREAT TO ANYONE.
TFRs sprout up like popcorn on a hot griddle, the restrictions
grow evermore ponderous and the sheer volume of the rules
encountered by any pilot trying to navigate across or around any
real population center is a whirling, confusing, ever-changing
morass of bureaucratic insanity. It's no longer a matter of just
staying vigilant, it's a matter of trying to stay clear of rules,
regs, and restrictions that are often in conflict with each other
to the point that every flyer, despite their experience, can easily
run afoul of one ort many restrictions.
It's simply unworkable and after 18,000 hours aloft all over the
world, I believe that there is no way that I can reasonably assume
that simple basic piloting competence will keep me within the regs.
And more to the point, many, if not most, of these restrictions are
simply uncalled for and without merit. Stop it. Return OUR AIRSPACE
Give GA A Seat At The FAA/Govt Table (FAA, TSA, et al)
The GA community is the Rodney
Dangerfield of the Aero-World…not only do we get no
respect… but the rest of the industry has little idea of the
overt and positive nature of GA as it relates to their own
interests. In decisions and rule-making affecting the world of
aviation, it is mandatory that the GA community not only have a
seat at the table while our collective futures are being
determined, but that the contributions of GA are considered as a
part of normal policy.
GA crosses over into so many other aspects of the aviation world
that it seems counter-productive and somewhat masochistic to see it
excluded from the everyday processes involved in determining the
aero-world's future. When the future of aviation is in question, it
is a false economy much less unrepresentative, for any governmental
agency to ignore the needs, expertise, opinions, and mission of
And… if they don't want to hear from us, our voices
should be raised and our actions should be of such strength and
volume that they can NOT ignore us.
Few groups are as well-acquainted
with the way the world really looks and operates as well as pilots.
By and large, I have found the aviation community to be as
environmentally conscientious as any group I know - I mean, how
could we NOT be? We spend an inordinate amount of time looking down
upon the wonders of the Earth and we can't help but be damned
impressed with how beautiful and amazing Mother Earth is. NO
flyer I know wants the world to be hurt or harmed… but we
also know the earth to be a hardy and amazingly resilient
Despite that; aviation is being held hostage by those who seek
draconian environmental measures even when the science is
shaky or the cure is proven to be worse than the malady. Some of
the stuff bandied about is nuts. Carbon Dioxide is a threat to the
environment? Tell that to every green thing growing around us
that's sucking it in as fast as it can -- and producing oxygen as a
C'mon folks, environmentally-inspired regs and controls need to
be based on fact and carefully researched data… and the regs
need to be realistic and not obsessive nonsense that looks good on
the news -- or worse, a congressional committee… Threatening
whole industries and requiring that they meet incredibly
restrictive regs (many based on junk science or outright hype) with
inadequate lead time makes no sense and will ultimately build
incredible resistance to the kind of environmental upgrades that
may actually make the world a better place. We flyers know the
world for what it is… a beautiful orb that deserves proper
care and feeding - but so do we… we simply need to tread
carefully, sensibly and honestly - and the junk science needs to be
kicked to the curb. If half the highly-restrictive and costly regs
that have been put forward come to pass, civil aviation will cease
to exist as we know it. It's time for a reality/sanity check.
Next… let's look at a few more of the
problems we face… including a few that may actually present
themselves as a blessing in disguise - IF we recognize what it
might take to make the changes necessary to rebuild aviation and
start it on a new, bolder, revolutionary new path.
More to follow in the coming days… Stay tuned!
Jim Campbell (STILL Mad As Hell and Not Willing To
Take It Anymore)
Unrepentant Aero-Advocate, Professional