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    « Radio Interview | Main | User Fees: Dormant not Dead »


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    Ron Carmichael

    I read your recommendations for improving our General Aviation Safety and I say BRAVO!!!! These are the kind of suggestions that all CFIs, the FAA, and pilots in general should support. Your interest and ACTIVE support of increased aviation safety is so vital to the survival of General Aviation - since it helps mitigate the perception that flying "little" airplanes is unsafe - even if done using common sense and adequate on-going training and currency.

    Thanks for all you do!!


    Hi Max,

    I feel a bit mixed about your proposals 4 and 5, because they could lead pilots to rely on this only, and no longer assess safety by themselves.

    On the other hand, when in doubt, there is often an instructor or more experienced pilot available locally to help. And if not... why not just cancel the flight, or divert later if you decided to launch anyway ?

    This is what airmanship is about, and one must may be stress this out in training...

    Thanks for all your work

    Don Fairbanks

    Your article was great, but like most people you failed to address the minimum abilities a new flight instructor brings to the table. Many are licensed to teach, with minimums that are far below instructing in other endovers. To instruct a person should have perhaps a thousand hours of flying in the real world before trying to pass on skills they have not mastered. I have been instructing for over 60 years in airplanes and helicopters, and see a progressive decline in flight skills. Many are learning the words associated with flight but not the skills. Writtens seem to have more weight than the polishing of flight skills.



    You certainly make some interesting points, however, I believe that the "action" part of your argument is basically flawed. The basic problem is not a lack of laws, or regulations with the FAA... it is pilots who ignore training, and don't use personal self-examination, training, and who are lulled into a sense that everything's ok, because they are within the laws. There's an old saying that Men must be governed by God, or they will be ruled by tyrants. Basically, it doesn't matter how many laws the FAA makes (which only make it harder for good pilots to be compliant), some folks will still go off into the wild blue yonder without a good briefing, or enough common sense to avoid the problems they will encounter. Then there's the case of experienced pilots like Crossfield who died earlier this year, who just run into something that was waaay stronger than he could handle, despite his level of experience. The government has never been able to force personal responsibility and never will, unless they achieve absolute tyranny. Sure, the proposals MIGHT lead to a drop in accidents, but for instance, the guys who would call the proposed hotline are not the one's I'm worried about. I suspect that the ones who would use the hotline, are already making use of available resources.
    The ones I'm worried about are the ones who are not being personally responsible, who are under pressure to do something in a hurry, or just have a who cares attitude. This is already covered by the regs, and is ultimately still going to be a problem, no matter how much money we spend on education, or legislation, and another layer of bureaucracy.


    One more point... I do think that a lot of the things mentioned above would be good things for more instructors to implement in their training.

    Doug Stewart

    It's wonderful to see you take this pro-active stand for the good of all general aviation pilots! It is untenable to have our leaders in government and industry take the complacent attitude of allowing for an increase in the fatal accident rate, while they pat themselves on their backs.
    What general aviation needs, is people like you, with your knowledge, experience and pro-active abilities to take the leadership role in making general aviation a safer place for all of us.
    Your mission is admirable and you have my gratitude!!!


    Max, I read your article in today's 12/31/07 "Propwash" and commend some of your well thought out fixes that are needed. I am not a pilot but, working in commercial aviation. I still read a great deal about GA with an interest in understanding the carnage seen day after day in Aviation. I just am not comfortable flying in anything other than commercial since I worked in GA Maintenance a number of years. From pilots to aircraft too much lack of consistency to be trusted yet. Keep up the good work!

    Wiliam Knecht

    (Note: The comments below are those of the author, not the FAA)

    Hi, Max,

    As one of the FAA's research scientists whose exact job it is to try to lower the GA accident rate, I certainly appreciate your enthusiasm. One thing you might want to seriously consider, though, is the notion that it's hard to "legislate out stupidity." All I mean is that laws can never fully substitute for good judgment. It's also a challenge to expect that the average GA pilot's skill, experience, and equipment will ever come up to the standards of commercial air carrier pilots. So, I guess IMHO, I tend to side with the comments made by Don Fairbanks above. The emphasis should be on what we call "conservative confidence calibration"--pilot decision making that tends, if anything, to err on the side of caution, and that takes into full consideration each individual's level of training, experience, personal health, and equipment, all within the context of the specifics of each individual flight. It's doing an excellent pre-flight briefing, plus thinking ahead for alternatives if things go bad enroute. And this approach to flying has to be taught and practiced, not just legislated.

    I do appreciate your getting us all thinking, though, and I'll mention your remarks to my sponsor in Washington.

    William Knecht, Ph.D.
    Engineering Research Psychologist
    FAA, Oklahoma City

    Dan Burkett


    I appreciated your suggestions on how to better the GA accident rate. However, I think you have overlooked one major issue: motivation. As Mr. Knecht pointed out, we cannot "legislate out stupidity", but we can coax with both a carrot and a stick. The current FAA enforcement procedures provide the stick but there is no carrot. I believe that the Wings program was intended to be the carrot, but at this time I don't believe it meets the need. I would suggest that just as NAFI currently has a Master CFI program, the industry (read GAMA /AOPA /EAA /insurance companies) and FAA institute a Master Pilot program. To achieve the status, one must achieve advancements in knowledge as displayed by online testing at secured centers and no less than yearly skill proficiency tests. The essential part would need to be insurance discounts and the significant personal status of becoming a Master Pilot.

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