Sunday, April 2, 2017

Technology Can Help Tyro Pilots but Often Isn’t Enough: The issue is the misguided notion that advances in technology can allow inexperienced pilots to do things they shouldn’t be doing, at the expense of the flying public

The Wall Street Journal
March 30, 2017 5:24 p.m. ET

Opinion / Letters

In his March 22 letter “Weakening the Flying Public’s Safety Net,” National Air Transportation Association President Martin H. Hiller is incorrect in his assessment. “To assist internet investors and satisfy conservative economists” is not the issue here. The issue is the misguided notion that advances in technology can allow inexperienced pilots to do things they shouldn’t be doing, at the expense of the flying public. This is a much wider and deeper debate of the runaway use of technology in all phases of our lives, which includes the concept of driverless cars and our march toward becoming cyborgs.

Robert J. Stewart, P.E.
Savannah, Georgia 

Original article can be found here:

The Wall Street Journal
March 21, 2017 6:08 p.m. ET

Opinion / Letters

Weakening the Flying Public’s Safety Net:   If a pilot wants to get paid to fly, he must comply with regulatory requirements placed on charter aircraft

The Journal continues to provide a platform for proposals to remove the safety net protecting the flying public, seemingly to assist internet investors and satisfy conservative economists. “An Easy Way to Make the Skies Friendlier” (op-ed, March 16) by Christopher Koopman and Eli Dourado suggests helping disadvantaged private pilots build experience by letting them fly passengers for hire. Having failed to undermine safety through the courts (op-ed, Nov. 16, 2016), proponents now suggest Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao act by fiat, or Congress pass legislation, to weaken the flying public’s safety net.

Contrary to the authors’ assertions, the FAA has been consistent in its policy. If a pilot wants to get paid to fly, he must comply with regulatory requirements placed on charter aircraft. These include additional pilot training and increased oversight of the aircraft’s maintenance. The FAA allows a limited exception for people with a common purpose to share expenses on a trip with the same destination.

The authors’ proposal allows pilots with as few as 35 hours, no training for flying in poor weather, no insurance or even the need to file a flight plan, to carry passengers for hire. Supporters of this proposal continue to try and distract readers by focusing on the technology used to communicate, despite clear direction from the FAA and courts that it isn’t the method but rather the intent and outcome of the communication that matters.

Martin H. Hiller
National Air Transportation Association

Original article can be found here:

An Easy Way to Make the Skies Friendlier:  Elaine Chao could open the way to ride-sharing for planes

March 15, 2017 6:51 p.m. ET

Opinion / Commentary (U.S.)

Uber is great, but ride-sharing for airplane pilots, potentially the most disruptive innovation in the sharing economy, hasn’t gotten off the ground. The Supreme Court clipped its wings by declining to hear a case brought by Flytenow, ending the tiny company’s yearslong quest to survive. The Trump administration or Congress could provide a remedy to let flight-sharing take off again.

The U.S. has more than 200,000 general aviation aircraft—small planes, most capable of carrying two or four people, including the pilot. There are almost as many private pilots—licensed to carry passengers but not to receive payment for their services. Under Federal Aviation Administration regulations, private pilots who want to carry passengers must have at least three takeoffs and landings every 90 days. To maximize proficiency and safety, it’s a good idea for private pilots to fly even more often.

But many private pilots can’t afford to fly as often as they’d like. Landing fees, deicing, fuel and other costs add up quickly. For decades, pilots have defrayed these costs by posting their planned destinations on airport corkboards in hope of attracting passengers willing to pay for expenses, the only compensation private pilots are allowed to receive.

Extending this practice to the internet age is a no-brainer—simply replace the corkboard with a website. Private pilots find more passengers, save on fuel costs, fly more routes, and gain proficiency. Passengers get a new, cheap, and convenient point-to-point air travel option.

The FAA hates the idea. In 2014, it ruled that pilots using Flytenow’s digital corkboard were “common carriers.” That status required that they apply for commercial certification—notwithstanding the FAA’s decades-old approval of expense-sharing.

How can the FAA get away with such an anti-innovation ruling? The short answer is that it alone decides what constitutes a “common carrier.” The FAA’s authorizing statutes use the term but don’t define it. The FAA does so through “guidance” rather than formal regulation.

The good news is that this is easy to fix. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao could simply order the FAA to issue new guidance narrowing the definition of a common carrier. A narrower definition would legalize not only flight-sharing services, but also other yet-unknown aviation services, serving as a catalyst for innovation. Alternatively, and for a more permanent fix, Congress could define “common carrier” within the aviation statutes.

If one or both of these fixes were applied, the U.S. could start to catch up with Europe, which already allows flight-sharing. Wingly is a European platform that not only permits pilots to post itineraries but allows passengers to post requests for transportation. This bidirectional bargaining is something that no American flight-sharing service even tried, because it goes well beyond what the FAA allowed, even in the corkboard era.

As long as the FAA cannot provide predictability and stability, innovators will continue to find friendlier skies in countries like France, Germany and the United Kingdom.

Messrs. Koopman and Dourado are fellows at George Mason University’s Mercatus Center.

Original article can be found here:


Anonymous said...

Is flying in a non-commercial aircraft with a non-commercial pilot more dangerous than the commercial alternative? Sure it is. But It's also safer per mile than driving a motor vehicle.
Let adults make their own decisions.

Anonymous said...

The ethos of aviation is safety. Allowing, for example, a low-time pilot to fly strangers on an Instrument Flight Rules flight in an old Cessna 172 goes against everything the aviation culture values.

Anonymous said...

No, private flying is MUCH more dangerous per mile than driving a motor vehicle. The first comment is just not true. Airlines are safer than driving but private piston flying much more dangerous.

Hitching a ride with an unfamiliar pilot with 45 hours under his or her belt should be regulated, and is. The rules are there for a reason and quite appropriate.

Anonymous said...

As a lifelong aviator, I can tell you pilots come in various capabilities, like drivers. I have flown with some I thought would drag the gear off in a crosswind landing. Either you should personally know the pilot or you should not fly. Most pilots think I am overly cautious, but it's a whole lot better to be down here wishing you were up there, than up there wishing you were down here.

Anyone who gets in a plane of unknown quality with a pilot of unknown competence is a fool.

Anonymous said...

I am a retired airline and military pilot. This idea is insane. Sorry, but many of these pilots are barely qualified to fly for themselves. They also lack the judgement and experience to say "No" to a passenger who says they really have to get to ___, weather be damned. They are not trained to be a "pilot in command" they are simply pilots who fly under the best of circumstances trying to get enough hours to become something more. Also, what insurance company would insure them?

Anonymous said...

Knowing what we know now about JFK Jr and his abilities as a pilot, I would ask these professors if obtaining just an "Uber ride" is what the other passengers on that airplane were thinking when they boarded his airplane. Unfortunately, they were unable to pull off the side of the road and get out of the airplane.

I am a former military pilot and currently have 27 years at a major United States airline.