Referring to your story in the April issue (page 39), it’s nice to hear that MLS (microwave landing system) is taking off. I always knew it would. I remember one day in 1994 when I worked at National Air Traffic Services in London, a guy from the Federal Aviation Administration came over to UK to say, "Sorry guys, MLS is dead. GPS can do everything now." He produced a big overhead slide that mapped FAA’s plans. I remember there was a big red dot on the plan at 1995, labeled "Cat III GPS."
Yep, getting your passengers on the ground alive each and every time in all-weather operational conditions sounds like a good business case to me. GPS won’t quite get you there, but MLS will.
I read your article, "WAAS-Capable GPS Receivers (Sept. ‘03, page 43). Quite to my surprise our company was not mentioned in the list of manufacturers. To learn about our PolaRx-2 receiver, please check our Web site: www.septentrio.com.
It seems the avionics industry and government bureaucrats have nothing better to do than devise new and expensive gadgets to justify their existence and make everyone believe they have achieved a major innovation. Not so. All that they have accomplished is to have created a new revenue stream for a company and an expanded bureaucracy at the Federal Aviation Administration.
PARR (Problem Analysis, Resolution and Ranking), which was featured in your June issue (page 24), is another example of wasted time and money. It can lead to controller apathy and a decline in mental agility by permitting subpar controllers to rely unduly upon PARR to make their decisions. Just because a computer program creates certain options for a controller, it adds nothing to safety. Indeed, it may add more irrelevant elements to the decision making process. A good controller’s mind is as fast as any computer.
We are permitting less qualified individuals to join controller ranks, and to compensate for their lack of ability, we create automation. But when that automation fails or is misinterpreted, then what?
I recently toured the Potomac consolidated TRACON in Virginia. (At a time of terrorist threats, the FAA consolidates?). The irrelevant and distracting features and options that I saw on the controller screens gave me the chills. Give me a good controller on a simple scope any day.
The March 2003 Safety column (page 45) is an excellent article, and I would like to compliment you for putting "on paper" what has been a serious lack of understanding by most folks in the industry, particularly the original equipment manufacturers, regarding extended twin-engine operations (ETOPS). The last paragraph in your column tells it all: "Come the first electrically related loss of an ETOPS airplane from in-flight fire..." I believe we have had an incident close to that already with the Swissair MD-11. The first definition of ETOPS should really be EROPS (engines run or passengers swim).
CML West Inc.
I read your recent editorial, "Missile Defense on Airlines" (June ‘03, page 6). You ask the question, "Who would have thought it would come to this?" However, you didn't include the fact that this situation is the contribution to human civilization by fanatics and those who support them.
Much has been and is being written about the effects on the aviation/airline industry of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attack. One would have expected to have seen and read official positions taken by representatives of the industry vis-a-vis terrorism. However, we read only about securing aircraft and airports.
It is not enough to "mop up the puddle;" we should also "turn off the faucet." The aviation industry should and must be courageous enough do its share by openly condemning and taking a stand against countries and organizations that are behind and support this evil. Our strength is in our engineers, mechanics and pilots who make up the professional organizations, societies and institutions of this great industry. We should not remain silent while groups of extremists and those who support them threaten commercial aviation.
David Elazar Risho
Rishon LeZion, Israel