Once again I was reminded that I never stop learning about flying. This time it was a fuel-injected Cessna Skyhawk, which stubbornly refused to start after I landed and taxied to the gas pump to fill it up before putting it away. It was a gorgeous day in Southern California, light winds, incredible visibility and a fun flight out of Santa Monica Airport.
AIN’s editors offer their opinions, observations and thoughts on everything aviation.
Unless you hang your hat in Delaware or New Hampshire or live in one of the few countries that don’t assess sales tax, you probably hand money to the government almost every time you buy something. In many U.S. states, the levy on purchases runs 5 to 7 percent or more and, with local surtaxes, you can wind up paying as much as 15.5 percent on most purchases.
While the U.S. government is on a Congress-created enforced shutdown, the aviation industry might be tempted to wonder what the FAA actually accomplishes. What we are learning is that a lot of what the FAA does is process paperwork. And when the paperwork stops flowing, we can be forced to stop flying.
Every decade or so, sometimes more often, someone or some organization proposes “privatizing” the U.S. air traffic control system. In 1985 it was the Air Transport Association (ATA), now renamed Airlines for America, which released a study calling for a self-supporting federal ATC corporation.
You need only glance at the first cover of Business Jet Traveler, from October 2003, to see how far it has come. The magazine, which I edit, began as an outgrowth of Aviation International News and, in its early issues, seemed more like a clone than an offspring.
Last month, I wrote about preventing whistleblowing: how do you keep employees from blowing the whistle? My short answer was to listen to what employees are saying about safety problems, investigate and take appropriate actions.
When my wife and I recently dropped off our son for his freshman year at Bard College, we had the pleasure of listening to a talk by the school’s extraordinary longtime president, Leon Botstein. He noted that universities have been around since the 11th century and have endured through everything from the development of movable type to the invention of electric lights and the moon landing. They’ll survive the Internet, too, he said.
FAA enforcement cases tend to focus on the front-line employees, usually pilots or mechanics, who allegedly violate federal aviation regulations. Occasionally other certified airmen, such as aircraft dispatchers, parachute riggers or air traffic controllers at contract towers, face enforcement action.
A little over a decade ago, my wife and I had at least some small chance of becoming rich beyond belief. We were among the first investors in a technology startup that had the potential to be as revolutionary and widely adopted as the iPhone or iPad, and with even greater revenue. Unfortunately, the company’s digital-wallet concept was ahead of its time and the founders, despite diligent efforts, lacked the muscle to make it a reality.
Whistleblowers have been in the news a lot lately: Edward Snowden, the NSA leaker who some call a whistleblower; Avantair’s whistleblower-initiated shutdown; and the latest TWA 800 conspiracy theorists (who also style themselves as whistleblowers, although 13 years after the NTSB’s probable-cause report was issued seems more like a whistle-whisperer than -blower)–the
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