Saturday, February 24, 2007

Here's a handy customer service hint for all you cash register jockeys out there. When you tell me the price and I offer money, take it. Strangely almost no one does this.

I walk into a store and choose an item to purchase. I walk up to the counter and say something pedestrian like;

"I'd like to buy this, please."

Shop assistant picks up item, examines price and says something equally conventional like;

"$10, please."

NOW, and here's the thing, when you say the price, I take that as a sign for me to hand over a form of currency equal to, or greater than, the cost of the item you have just quoted. This is called a tort. I have requested goods, you have made an offer, I have accepted the offer. We now have a contract, and it is time for an exchange to occur.

Almost no one does this. Instead they wrap the item up, or rearrange the counter, or examine their watch, or anything except take my money. So I am left with the embarrassing pose of standing there waving a ten dollar bill in my hand looking like a dick. What alternative am I left with?

When you say the price, that means you are ready to take my money. Take it. Everything else can wait.


Adam Air 737-300's grounded after plane cracks

One hard landing - voila! Instant tail-dragger.

Friday, February 23, 2007

For those that have been too bored to pay attention, here is a quick summary of todays national meeting concerning the future of the Murray Darling.

PM: I see you are all with us today, excepting the Chief Minister for the Northern Territory, who simply replied with a note scrawled on a beer coaster which said 'gone shootin,' and the Premier for Tasmania whose invitation was inexplicably lost in the post. But that's ok, because everyone knows they aren't really part of Australia, anyway. I shall go around the room and ask the Premiers whether they are in favour or against this proposal.

ACT: I'm in favour, for a number of reasons, primarily...

PM: You're in favour, then? Thank you, but no one cares about anything else you have to say, the largest user of water in the ACT is the golf course, followed closely by the lawn of Parliament House. WA?

WA: {muffled, from the back of the room} Although not directly effected, WA...

PM: Is WA not here?

WA: Yes, but we've been given terrible seats...

PM: They're probably late. Nevermind, we'll take that as in favour, they'll get the news in three hours. Look WA, I know it's a long plane ride, I've been past WA myself on the way to somewhere else, but you could at least pretend to be interested in what happens on the east coast. After all, we pretend to be interested in what happens in the west. QLD?

QLD: Look, the most important question is, is this scheme best for Australia? And more importantly, is it best for Queensland?

PM: There's a buck in it for you...

QLD: Sold.


{groans around room}

SA: We are going to take the high road on this issue and question whether a bunch of filthy convicts really deserve our water, although you could clearly use it to wash with. There is a moral principle involved with ceding our rights and reserves without so much as a...

PM: There's a buck in it for you, too.

SA: Sold.


NSW/VIC: {together} What do the polls say is the popular choice?

{whispering with shadowy advisors}

NSW: For

VIC: Against.

PM: Excellent. We are all in agreement then, more or less. I'm so glad we can all put our parochialisms aside and do what's best for the people of Australia.

Manilla - not just the capital of the Phillipines, also a town in northern NSW. And the home of the 2007 World Paragliding Championships.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Ewa sucked into storm and lives to tell

A German paraglider survived lightning, pounding hail, minus 40-degree temperatures and oxygen deprivation after a storm system sucked her to an altitude higher than Mount Everest.

Ewa Wisnierska, 35, passed out due to a lack of oxygen and flew unconscious for up to an hour covered in ice after reaching an altitude of 9947 metres - near the cruising height of a jumbo jet.

Note to self : steer clear of convective activity. Apparently this occurred at the confluence of two storm cells, which made the up/down draughts particularly violent.

Also - Coop has been up to Manilla and done this sort of stuff - anything you'd like to add?

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Costs to soar as US Air Force cuts order

The news on this bird just keeps getting worse and worse. I foresee an increasingly difficult gestation period.

Dr Davies said the Super Hornet, used by the US Navy, was a poor choice. Even more alarming was that this a relatively old plane could become a long-term replacement if the F-35 program collapsed, he said.

"No one else has bought the Super Hornet," he said. "Israel, Singapore and South Korea, for example, all bought variants of the F-15 instead of the Super Hornet. There is no evidence at all that a rigorous evaluation has been done by the Department of Defence or that the Super Hornet is the best solution."

I don't agree that Israel, Singapore or South Korea are analogous to our situation. None of them currently operate the F/A-18 as we do. Israel already operates the F-15 and South Korea's nearest ally, Japan, operates F-15s also, so it is only natural that they have bought interim replacement aircraft based on similar types. Our situation is unique, and although everyone claims to say that their situation is unique, we have a genuine argument. It's name is F-111.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Pilot critical after light plane crash

Another Jabiru? What is going on? This one had more serious consequences, with injuries to those on board. The cause is not yet known, so we shall wait and see.

Update - looks like the second incident involved a Cirrus, rather than a Jabiru. Which makes me feel a bit easier about my Jabiru checkride next Wednesday.

Update 2 - My checkride has been postponed while the Jabiru goes away for an upgrade.

Update 3 - looks like the upgrade was to the cooling system to prevent the engine overheating. Not failing, merely overheating. And what happens when the engine overheats? It damages itself and then fails. None of these events are related. Not much.

Monday, February 05, 2007

As a rule, I don't generally post links like this one. I have a bit of a problem with supporting the military of other nations. My own nation, no problem.

It appears though, that my principles can be thrown to the wind purely upon receiving some mild flattery.

So here you are. Buy one of these if you are a citizen of the US of A.

Purely for the *ahem* war effort.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Also - I've only just found this, the ATSBs investigation into GNSS non-precision approaches. If you don't know what that means, think Lockhart River, Benalla, Mount Hotham. If none of those placenames mean anything to you, perhaps you are on the wrong website.

Area navigation global navigation satellite system (RNAV (GNSS)) approaches have been used in Australia since 1998 and have now become a common non-precision approach. Since their inception, however, there has been minimal research of pilot performance during normal operations outside of the high capacity airline environment. Three thousand five hundred Australian pilots with an RNAV (GNSS) endorsement were mailed a questionnaire asking them to rate their perceived workload, situational awareness, chart interpretability, and safety on a number of different approach types. Further questions asked pilots to outline the specific aspects of the RNAV (GNSS) approach that affected these assessments. Responses were received from 748 pilots, and answers were analysed based on the aircraft performance category1 . For pilots operating Category A and Category B aircraft (predominantly single and twin-engine propeller aircraft), the RNAV (GNSS) approach resulted in the highest perceived pilot workload (mental and perceptual workload, physical workload, and time pressure), more common losses of situational awareness, and the lowest perceived safety compared with all other approaches evaluated, apart from the NDB approach. For pilots operating Category C aircraft (predominantly high capacity jet airliners), the RNAV (GNSS) approach only presented higher perceived pilot workload and less perceived safety than the precision ILS approach and visual day approach but lower workload and higher safety than the other approaches evaluated. The different aircraft category responses were likely to have been due to high capacity aircraft having advanced automation capabilities and operating mostly in controlled airspace. The concern most respondents had regarding the design of RNAV (GNSS) approaches was that they did not use references for distance to the missed approach point on the approach chart and cockpit displays. Other problems raised were short and irregular segment distances and multiple minimum segment altitude steps, that the RNAV (GNSS) approach chart was the most difficult chart to interpret, and that five letter long waypoint names differing only by the last letter can easily be misread.

When the initial report came out, I was disappointed that the issue of there being a possible problem with these types of approaches was never mentioned, what was mentioned was that one of the crew members was not qualified to fly them. This gave the impression that the crew members were at fault by flying the approach in the first place, despite the fact that the company was responsible for creating the rosters, despite the fact that the cockpit voice recorder wasn't functioning and so we don't actually know who was flying the approach, and despite the fact that CASA had audited the company a few weeks previously and passed them with flying colours.

This report has huge implications for aviation in this country, and possibly overseas. I hear that the GNSS non-precision approach is enormously popular in the US and Canada. Hopefully, now the issue is being taken seriously, some very smart people can get to work and make these things a bit safer for everyone, instead of pulling out the hoary old 'pilot error' chestnut.

Students lands light aircraft at racecourse

The Rego is VH-LSN, a rego with an unlucky past.

The aircraft wasn't a Cessna at all, it was a Jabiru, although they look kinda similar

The 'pilot' mentioned on board was an instructor, who methinks did not sit on his hands and allow his low-hour charge to make an emergency landing to completion. That really would require nerves of steel.

The emergency landing was brilliantly executed, with an engine failure the aircraft was skilfully glided onto the racetrack without any fuss, in one piece, with occupants unscratched.

Here's where we deal with the rumours.

Rumour is the engine failure was caused by a catastrophic cylinder failure, possibly a valve hitting the top of a piston, and therefore out of the pilots hands.

Rumour has it the engine was only a couple of hundred hours old, well short of the two thousand hours the engine is certified for before overhaul.

Rumour is this is not unheard of in early model Jabiru engines with solid lifters, although not publicised as the type was previously regarded as an ultra-light, and only now can be registered as a general aviation aircraft, with the more stringent requirements and regulatory scruntiny.

Rumour is the instructor was fired by his employer upon arriving back at the flying school.

Rumour is the rest of the staff were also ordered out by the employer after protesting over the treatment of the instructor in question.

Of course, none of the above might be true. It's only a rumour.