Your March 31 story, “Former Test Pilot Takes on the FAA Over Air Safety” was insulting to the nation’s professional airline pilots. The article says, “LeVier brings to the debate an authoritative voice renowned in aviation circles.”
In truth, Tony LeVier displays considerable ignorance about the real issues affecting our air transportation system.
The training in stalls and spin recovery LeVier advocates is important--I think that every licensed pilot should have it.
However, LeVier is out of line when he states, “All these people with new licenses who are ending up in commercial airliners know how to do is fly straight and level. If they get into an upset, they’ve bought the farm.” Bunk. Such skills are instinctive to any pilot who makes it as far as the captain’s seat of a commercial jet. The real issues of airline safety include an understaffed, inadequate air traffic control system, the shortage of Federal Aviation Administration maintenance inspectors, and the post-deregulation climate that has reduced the margin of safety.
If anything invites the hiring of less-qualified pilots, it is the profusion of cut-rate discount carriers. In this business as in any other, you get what you pay for. Finally, I abhor LeVier’s irresponsible claim that the crew of the Delta L-1011 that crashed at Dallas last year “slaughtered 200 innocent people.” Does LeVier seriously think the Delta L-1011 crew knowingly flew into the “microburst” phenomena that existed over the Dallas-Fort Worth airport for those tragic few minutes?
LeVier may have great credentials in the flight-test community, but he doesn’t know the commercial air transport business and he hasn’t done his homework. More than spin training, what the industry really needs is the means to identify and warn pilots of the dangerous microburst phenomena. And give us back a few thousand of the skilled air traffic controllers--a precious national resource that President Reagan threw away. Let’s hire the hundreds of FAA inspectors needed to enforce maintenance standards.
JAMES L. HAYHURST, First Officer, PSA
Mill Valley, Calif.