[QUOTE]: A Comment About FAA Overreach on Airspace in Salem, Oregon

Aside

QUOTE

“…The Salem airspace FAA fiasco is but one more example of the utterly failed regulatory policies of FAA, that represent little but the tip of the iceberg of a poorly informed, completely aviation inexperienced, technically illiterate bureaucracy, massively out of step with modern aviation needs, concerns, and safety requirements….”

– a reader comment to Ben Sclair’s GA News article, ‘Whiplash in Salem’.

We see news and evidence everyday, showing how FAA has become the ‘force’ – faraway in DC, and disconnected from the local realities – that denies local control of airports and impedes progress to manage and limit aviation impacts. These are all signs of a deeply captured agency.

But, it is important to also recognize, FAA tries to not discriminate, thus makes problems not just for the non-aviation community (airport neighbors) but also for many within the aviation community. There are many legitimate individuals involved in aviation, battling FAA’s mindless bureaucracy and bottomless power; they, too, are feeling ‘burned’ by FAA’s waste and ineptitude. It is beyond comprehension that FAA would need to specially modify the minimally-used airspace as discussed in this article. A pointless effort engaging a formal rulemaking process to no productive end, an effort that seems to serve nobody – except, it does give some underworked FAA employees a task to spend time on.

This article is at General Aviation News, a periodical based in the Seattle area that has been a leading news source for people in aviation, particularly on the west coast. The airport, Salem [KSLE], serves a state capitol but has ZERO commercial airline operations and is extremely slow – averaging just three takeoffs per hour – yet receives subsidies for a contract air traffic control tower.

Click here to read the GA News article and comments.

TimesLedger Publishes a Full Page of Letters Disputing the NextGen Con-Job by A4A/FAA

20160312.. TimesLedger full page of airport noise letters re NextGen failures KJFK & KLGA (Becce, Jehn, Will)The ongoing propaganda parade by lobbyist A4A and federal personnel serving the aviation interests (both FAA employees and elected Congressional officials) included the Sharon Pinkerton letter in the NYC area on March 3rd. There are many smart people in the Big Apple, tired of this charade. They wrote some very good letters, pointing out just how incredibly false (and self-serving!) the A4A letter was. TimesLedger has created webpages to share these letters. Here are links:

Another Special Interest Tax Exemption, this Time it’s Idaho

(click on image to read article at GANews)

(click on image to read article at GANews)

Democracy in America, 2016. Our elected officials continue to serve special interests only, while ignoring the issues and growing inequalities that are destroying the not-too-distant future.

Aviation is a major player in this game. Those who are wealthy enough to own an airplane are golden: we coddle them, hoping they may give us a handout. Those with less wealth? Well, they still pay taxes to fix their beater car so they can buy gas and remain just mobile enough to not get fired from one of their two minimum wage part-time jobs.

In this example, legislation was passed in 2012 on the claim that it would ‘level the playing field’ for aircraft maintenance facilities in Idaho, matching the sales tax exemptions on aircraft parts then existing in 23 other states. The state legislature accepted the additional claim that jobs would be created, but demanded no proof that this was even true. Obviously, since airplane repairs and upgrades will happen with or without passage of the legislation, the simple fact is any new Idaho jobs would require elimination of the same jobs in other states. Oh, and the tax exemption is only for out-of-state aircraft; thus, when the legislation passed, Idaho owners became enticed to fly to another state for their repairs.

The whole scheme is absurd. And these tax exemptions do not appear from a vacuum. They are a result of focused lobbying activities, which include donating to reelection funds as a matter of routine. If you are an aviation lobbyist like NBAA.org, you will not only produce documents like the May 2003 report on aviation taxes state-by-state, but you will also advocate for further tax exemptions to attract new memberships.

It seems peculiar that FAA has preempted local management of aviation noise and air pollution impacts, yet FAA looks the other way, allowing local/state regulations that amount to aviation job predation. Perhaps it is time for FAA to turn this ship around, and focus on supporting a NATIONAL Airspace System. How? In general, impacts and environmental matters should be LOCALLY controlled, while safety and general economic policies should be FEDERALLY controlled. Here’s two ideas:

  1. Impose regulations that ensure consistency across all states – removing local/state barriers, to achieve the widest distribution of aviation jobs.
  2. Re-empower local officials – as well as the right of local citizens to vote on aviation noise matters – so as to allow local emplacement of tailored environmental protections consistent with aviation safety.

An aviation regulator, serving the People and not just the industry, would be very different from today’s FAA. How about we ‘transform’ FAA into that new and better regulator?


See also:

A4A’s TimesLedger Letter: Further Debunked by Pilot/Author George Jehn

A retired airline pilot, George Jehn, offers this concise critique of the latest round of A4A propaganda, and specifically the Pinkerton letter at TimesLedger:

“Pinkerton’s article is way off the mark. The airlines have had the ability to fly direct for many years, via the use of things like GPS, OMEGA, INS, etc.**These are all navigation systems used in aviation. INS stands for ‘Inertial Navigation System‘, a major upgrade in air navigation that began to dominate around 1970 … making direct routes common more than four decades ago. It is the airspace problems in the terminal areas that are created by the sheer volume of aircraft taking off and landing that cause the noise problems. And NextGen is not going to solve any of these problems. That is the built-in folly of airline ‘deregulation’. You can only stuff so many planes into a limited amount of airspace and still maintain a safe operation — and the key word is safe.

In recent years, the airlines and the FAA have been shaving the safety margins bit by bit, in many different ways and in many areas. Two examples that most people aren’t even aware of are ETOPS, which stands for Extended Twin Engine Operations. Under FAA’s ETOPS Orders (the original version was adopted in December 1988, and the revised version was adopted in June 2008), FAA allows jets to operate over the Atlantic and Pacific oceans with only two engines. If you recall, it used to be four engines, then three and now two. All of this is done to save fuel and maintenance costs. Prior to ETOPS, engine redundancy was mandatory for safety.

It isn’t a matter of if one of these twins goes into the drink, but when (think of MH 370, a twin-engine 777. What really happened there?). Also, there used to be two-thousand foot mandatory altitude separation above FL 290(twenty nine thousand feet) but now it is has been reduced to one-thousand by the FAA. And these are just two examples. There are many others. Very sad because the public is being hoodwinked by the FAA on many fronts, including noise abatement and flight safety.”

Spot on, George!G.Jehn

As a bit of background, George is a retired Eastern Airlines (and later USAirways) pilot, especially notable for the book he wrote in 2014, ‘Final Destination: Disaster. What Really Happened to Eastern Airlines’.20160305cpy.. 'Final Destination - Disaster' (cover pic, G.Jehn book on EAL)
His book offers a rare insider view at a fatal airline crash in South America, on 1/1/1985, that was never properly investigated or reported by FAA or NTSB officials. Essentially, a cover-up … as does happen sometimes, with aviation ‘incidents’.

George also was a high-ranking pilot union (ALPA) official, and his book points to the serious problem of top union officials becoming ‘joined at the hip’ with agency and airline officials. George is impressive for his knowledge and experience, but even more so for his whistleblower instincts, and his tenacity to expose and reform corruption.

A highly recommended read, if you want to better understand where politics and aviation safety conspire to corrupt.


See also:

More NextGen Spin, this Time by a NYC-area Aviation Lobbyist

Another day, another article, and yet another provable example of an unaccountable authority offering more spin to sucker the larger public. This time, the spin is offered by the Global Gateway Alliance and published by Crain’s:

20150303.. 'Worst of the worst - City's airports are dead last in flight delays' (R.Goldensohn, CrainsNewYork.com, 1p)

(click on image to view original article at Crain’s New York Business)

Yes, the NYC area has aviation delays, but the cause is not at all what the lobbyist claims. There are two lies (highlighted above) that pop out from Mr. Sigmund’s statements to yet another happy-to-publish reporter:

  1. Sigmund says, “Passengers have better GPS on the phone in their pocket than most every pilot is using on the planes flying in and out of New York-New Jersey airports…”; and
  2. Sigmund says, “They are also delayed because they use an outdated World War II-era radar system, leading to a constant traffic jam in the sky.”

Bunk on both counts.

Nonetheless, these are the core lies of the current ‘collaboration’ by Av-Gov Complex players, seeking more money wasted on NextGen. These lies are propagated not just by Mr. Stephen Sigmund (the executive director of Global Gateway Alliance) and other pro-aviation lobbyists, but also by FAA officials, union officials (NATCA, in the case of air traffic control) and elected officials (congressional comments last month by John Mica and Bill Shuster are two recent examples).

The fact is, FAA has spent tens of billions upgrading the computers that allow us to brag about what is indisputably an incredibly safe ATC system. But people like Sigmund have no idea what they are saying, when they repeat the spin mantra. Those ‘World War II’ radars used vacuum tubes and showed only tentative blips; they were operated by controllers trying to interpret static-prone crackling transmissions. The pilots sending those often unreadable radio transmissions had no onboard technologies to see hazards such as other flights or weather or even granite. The lack of technology suggested when using the phrase ‘outdated World War II-era radar system’ was corrected decades ago. And, further, all of this technology has been upgraded every few years for the past six decades … easily more than a dozen iterations of technological improvement. Not just to faster integrated circuitry and color presentations and digital processing, but also to include a robust array of automation and system redundancies (one of many great examples: ‘conflict detection and alert’ that aids controllers when they get bored and lose focus).

Frankly, today’s flight management systems and radars are so far evolved that the role of the air traffic controller has been largely reduced to sitting and monitoring, all while collecting some of the highest pay rates in the federal government. Ten years ago, NATCA was vehemently opposed to NextGen, because they saw it as attacking job security. So, why does NATCA support NextGen now? Because FAA threw them a bone: “…collaborate with us (agreeing not to oppose NextGen) and we will help you become privatized, so the current controllers can rise above the congressionally-imposed pay limit…” (currently capped at $174,000 per year, earned by thousands of FAA managers as well as controllers at the busiest facilities).

Enough is enough. This pattern of self-serving spin by aviation interests (FAA, Congress, lobbyists and even NATCA) must end. We need effective air service IN BALANCE with local community quality-of-life. We can have the best for all; we just need FAA to start doing the job expected by Congress and the Public.


See also:
  • Keep noise down, efficiency up at Queens airports – a letter to editor in the Times Ledger, by Sharon Pinkerton at lobby group Airlines for America; same date, and same ‘collaborated’ talking points as stated by Mr. Sigmund. (3/3/2016)
  • Privatization Plan Holds Promise but Gives Big Carriers Too Much Clout – a fairly moderate opinion piece, but still using the same ‘WWII technology’ talking point. One line sets a high bar: “…if a spinoff could improve the system without costing passengers more or silencing the public’s voice in air traffic control, it would be worth doing.” Yes, that would be worth doing, but with the ongoing set of self-serving players, those costs are inevitable – indeed, demonstrable at places like Long Island and Phoenix.

SERFR: FAA’s ‘Acoustical Sewerline’ over the Santa Cruz area

Across the nation, over the past two years, FAA has been accommodating the desire of airlines to pad their profits by turning lower and closer to the airports. FAA, collaborating with so-called ‘stakeholders’ including the air traffic controllers union (NATCA), developed and imposed sets of routes using satellite navigation technologies. In the process, decades worth of noise abatement procedures were simply abandoned. All of this is cheerfully presented as an improvement, a product of NextGen. And it is happening at dozens of communities, across the nation.

How bad is it? Activists in the Bay Area are doing an excellent job fighting back. Watch this short video, created by SOSSC, a large group of residents impacted under the SERFR arrival route, to the south of San Francisco:

Want more? Listen to this radio show from last August, after 5+ months of NextGen’s SERFR arrivals:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B-Nvzuvr6ouZXzU2bWNray1vMGM/view
This local radio show covers a lot of ground. Many listeners call in with a spectrum of questions, and the four SOSSC members do a great job, explaining the impacts and detailing the failures by FAA and the others who implemented SERFR. Here are a few times:

  • ‘Acoustical Sewerline’ is mentioned at ~6:30
  • NextGen is defined at ~15:30
  • ‘NoFlyDay is discussed at ~28:00

Having heard all this, want to know what FAA has done, to give these caring citizens some noise-impact relief? The answer to that question is easy:

…at this point in time, FAA has done NOTHING.

The Acoustical Sewerline continues….

An Exchange of Letters, Proposing Michael Huerta’s Removal

A New York area citizen, enduring years of unmitigated (and even expanding!) aviation noise impacts exacerbated by FAA’s ‘unmitigated capture by industry’, recently sent letters to both DoT Secretary Anthony Foxx and President Barack Obama. Both letters point to the ongoing failures by FAA, as well as a recent DoT-IG report: ‘FAA Reforms Have Not Achieved Expected Cost, Efficiency, and Modernization Outcomes’ (34p, 1/15/2016). Both letters also called for these top officials to “…find someone who is really responsive to citizen complaints coming from Phoenix, Palm Springs, Chicago, Boston, & New York and replace Michael Huerta…” and to “…remove Michael Huerta and replace him with someone who cares for more than just throughput and efficiency.”

Here are copies of the letters, shared with aiREFORM. Highlights were added, and the citizen’s personal info redacted. The first letter, dated January 25, is to Secretary Foxx:20160125.. (redacted) letter to DoT.A.Foxx (1p)

The second letter, dated February 10, elevated the issue to President Obama:201602010.. (redacted) letter to Pres.B.Obama, need to replace FAA.M.Huerta (1p)

Evidently, a pair of letters crossed in the mail. Secretary Foxx’s office staff forwarded the letter to FAA, directing that someone respond to the citizen. A letter with an illegible signature was sent from FAA’s Office of Environment & Energy, dated February 9:

This pop-out view is scrollable, and the PDF copy may be downloaded.

The content of the FAA response letter is telling. You will note the text is extraordinarily framed to say nothing and do nothing; ‘bureaucratese’, precisely deployed so as to demoralize the letter recipient. Sadly, these days, people everywhere in our nation get this sort of treatment; this is how FAA (and other agencies) routinely treat the good citizens, those who care and act responsibly to try and solve ongoing problems that FAA refuses to address. Is it any wonder, than, that so many people are so outraged these days, across the whole spectrum, from progressive to conservative?

For a closer analysis of FAA’s response letter, identifying cut-and-paste response elements that are routinely sent to citizens, click here.

REFERENCE: A Table Listing all Members of the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee

Listening to a livestream broadcast of today’s AIRR Act markup session, being railroaded by Bill Shuster for lobby Airlines for America (and thus for the airline industry), it became apparent that a list of committee members would be helpful. Find it here: Members, House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee

LIVESTREAM: AIRR Act Hearing

The Transportation and Infrastructure Committee is holding an AIRR Act hearing at this moment, chaired by Bill Shuster. Two hours in, the witnesses include Ed Bolen, Robert Poole, Paul Rinaldi and Nick Calio, all of whom (except Bolen) are strong advocates of this corporate giveaway. Shuster has unfortunately set such small time allotments that the representatives and witnesses simply cannot get into sufficient depth to clearly debate the issues and arrive at solid solutions. Nonetheless, lots of concerns and opposition are being strongly declared.

Here is an embed for the livestream … The hearing ended at 1:43pm EST. Here is a link to a video of the full hearing, which ran for nearly 4-hours:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y-OC0cfW_Nc&feature=youtu.be&t=690

Note the link starts at 690-seconds into the recording; it appears that the recording was begun nearly 11-minutes prior to the actual gaveled opening by Shuster.

See also this opinion piece from TheHill.com (PDF below, annotated by aiREFORM):

This pop-out view is scrollable, and the PDF copy may be downloaded.

UPDATED at 1:00pm EST on 2/10/2016: — 5-minute recess; will resume with session #2 momentarily.