Monday, April 09, 2012

Winging-it

As Bank Holidays go. this one appears to be following a well-established British tradition of cold wet weather. We can't really complain, given the spring-like conditions of the last month but a little blue sky would have been nice in contrast to having to watch the inevitable re-runs of Ben Hur and Lawrence of Arabia.



This last week, I was lucky to get a banner flying for a division of MGM over Elstree studios and fly my annual multi-engine renewal flight-test. The cost of aviation fuel is now becoming so steep that flying anything with more than one engine is becoming a crippling expense and the aviation industry is being as hard hit as any other sector of the economy. What also concerns commercial pilots like me, is that many private pilots (PPLs) are cutting back their hours and with it, their currency. That can make for much less safe airspace around some of the busier airfields, when so many pilots are only flying the bare minimum hours necessary to keep their licenses. Several  PPLs I know have given-up altogether, either through losing their jobs or simply to save money in the recession.

The blogging scene this weekend appears to be once again dominated by 'diversity issues', with one of our local councillors leaving the implicit threat of some kind of complaint, hanging over several local weblogs, my own included.

To be honest, I regard the debate here as having been, on the most part, adult, restrained,  insightful and well-argued. Of course there are bound to be one or two exceptions but nothing that might attract an elite corps of 'diversity blogging wardens' or even the police, banging on my front-door.

What alarms me in all of this is that a small minority appear to be denying what I perceive as the majority, the right to have any say, debate or discussion whatsoever. To me, that's not democracy but crude fascism and I'm not prepared to accept it.

If there's a single benefit to this weblog among my more anodyne entries, it's that the content and moderated comments are widely read by the political establishment of all parties here in Thanet. In other words, if you want to have your say, then here is a good place to be noticed and possibly much faster than writing to your own ward Councillor on any controversial issue as many readers have discovered in the past.

So let's accept that people have opposing and often entrenched points of view on many subjects, among them, supermarkets, banking conspiracies, Cameron's 'Silk Monkeys', race, immigration and of course the raw topic of gay marriage and whether the council should debate the subject. As long as readers are prepared to exchange intelligent argument and satirical comments, then we as politicians should be prepared to listen and learn. There are always things we don't want to hear but there are a great many more that we should hear.

Seeing ham-fisted efforts to suspend any right to debate those things that concern the people who put us here is not why I became a local councillor and I for one, have every intention of supporting the right of people to political and moral self-expression.

29 comments:

Birch Tree said...

Simon - I consider you do an excellent job with your topics and allow reasonable debate - without threats. Long may this site continue - and those that don't like it can go elsewhere!

Readit said...

Simon, I think those so called champions of diversity should look up the dictionary definition of "consultation" or "debate".

They may realise it is acceptable to have points of view both "for and "against" without the need to resort to defamation of character of those against the motion.

Readit said...

On a more interesting note.

I read somewhere recently, and unfortunately I cannot re-find it, a report about a plane crash at Stansted Airport, which implicated the fact that it was flying at night. The report I read also stated that if this had happened at Manston, the plane would have crashed on Rmasgate.

Simon, as our resident aviation expert, have you heard of this matter and if so,what is your take on it.

simon moores said...

Ken

Not one I have heard of. It would need a catastophic loss of all engines at the same moment for an aircraft to crash at Ramsgate. In almost 100 years of flying at Manston, the nearet incident i can think of is the Shirt Stirling bomber landing on the outskirts of Broadstairs in 1942 with no casualties

Michael Child said...

Simon just tying to understand this aviation fuel thing and I find I have a very limited mental picture of the situation.

Sort of something along the lines of avgas being about £2 per litre and a smallish plane using 20 to 30 litres per hour, this is combined with confusing information about airlines not paying either fuel duty or vat on jet fuel. So anyway smallish plane, going about 150 mph so about 3 to 4 miles per £1

What I can’t work out at all is what sort of proportion it has gone up by and what this translates to in terms of flight distance passenger numbers.

I know that filling up my car seems to have gone from about £60 to about £100 in the last couple of years, but to be honest I still think I terms of gallons and mpg when it comes to cars and am translating the roughly £1.40 per litre at the moment to about £7 per gallon this all running out at about 3 to 4 miles per £1

Readit said...

Simon, I cannot find the original text I read but I expect it was referring to this:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/1999/dec/23/willwoodward1

simon moores said...

Michael

Thers a huge degree of difference between highly refined petrol, avgas at £2.00 a litre and JetA1 which is raw paraffin at about 70p i think which is how cheap airlines run

Readit said...

Michael, If your car costs £100 to fill up and does 25 mpg. it is time to change your car. My turbo- diesel estate does about 60 mpg

simon moores said...

Ken

This featured on the programme air crash investigation

A catalogue of appalling safety and training errors on the airline

Readit said...

The plane that scraped its tail at Manston was hardly a model of aviation excellence, but I had better stop this discussion otherwise some-one will accuse me of plane hysteria.

Michael Child said...

Simon I don’t really have a problem understanding the different types of fuel and how the engines work, it is the fuel economics of running a small plane that I don’t understand, were my assumptions about right?

simon moores said...

I should add that within a relatively short period Avgas has jumped from around £1.35 to as much as £2.10

If you are burning 42 litres an hour that's not funny in addition to all the other climbing costs in aviation.

simon moores said...

About right.. A small aircraft.. The smallest costs about £7,500 a year in fixed costs before fuel

simon moores said...

Yes, the aircraft in question rotated to early and if i remember correctly the Zrussian crew were not properly trained on type. Strangely enough its not an unusual type of incident and the aircraft was damaged but not in danger.

Tim Clark said...

Ken
I can't find the report on the AAIB site but I think this is the crash you are referring to.
http://www.pprune.org/rumours-news/97243-korean-air-b747-stansted-crash-report-out.html
Simon. The above blog mentions that the KAL plane was carrying depleted uranium, possibly as ballast. It also suggests that the El Al plane involved in the 1992 Schiphol crash (I remember that one, can't say I remember the KAL one) was also carrying DU. Is this normal? Seems a little risky to me!

simon moores said...

I really can't imagine why any arcraft might be carrying depleted uranium as ballast as this would come under the category of hazardous materials under the I C A O, which includes strangely enough, pistachio nuts!!

Tim Clark said...

That's what I thought. There's no reference to the crash on the AAIB site, even though 4 died and the plane was on fire

Tim Clark said...

The tail scrape plane was also found to be severely overloaded

Readit said...

Perhaps the AAIB are sitting on their report , waiting to see if Gt Hallingbury becomes a wasteland or a pistachio nut forest.

More seriously Simon, as a pilot do you not feel there are parallels between this unfortunate flight and some of the more questionable flights leaving Manston.

simon moores said...

I'm having a powerful sense of Deja Vu around this conversation and I think you will find we have had it before. I must catch 'Air Crash Investigation' on the National Geographic Channel because the KAL flight from Stansted is among the latest cases.

Both examples here involve a significant dose of pilot error and I believe overloading. I don't think the cargo on the KAL 747 had been properly secured but I need to watch the documentary.

These are two examples of accidents, major and minor among tens of thousands of successful flights between them so I'm not sure I take your point, other than accidents can and will happen. Manston has been remarkably free of such, since it became a commercial airport and long may this happy trend continue!

Because of their high fat content, Pistachio nuts have been known to spontaneously combust, which is why they are regarded as a dangerous air cargo. People with an unusually high fat content have, on occasions been know to spontaneously combust as well and this is more common than nuts bringing down aircraft except of course for the more religious variety!

Tom Clarke said...

Well didn't all that plane speaking make a change from the recent highlighting of the aims and aspirations of 1.5% of the population. Or perhaps more correctly, all the noise generated by their self appointed champions.

No one threatened with incarceration, an in your face confrontation with one of the less facially appealing councillors or charges under the laws of Peter Tatchell.

How refreshing even if Michael had a problem getting his head round aviation fuel usage and cost. A couple of aspirin and a nap might help, Michael.

Oh, and just for Ken, if that Stansted incident had happened here it would have hit the Pleasurama site simultaneously with the tsunami, avalanche and sandquake.

Tim Clark said...

As I understand it the KAL flight involved a system (ADI?)that was faulty. As a consequence this instrument told the pilot he was climbing when he was actually nose-down, so he flew into the wood.
Anyway, back on thread. Well said, you are absolutely right. I held no views on the subject of civil partnerships before this blew up - I have relatives in such arrangements and thought nothing off it; to me it just seemed fair and normal. However, these two bullies cause me to have to keep reminding myself of my previous attitude because of their inflammatory words. They are setting relationships between the gay and non-gay communities back by 50 years; maybe that's their intention, though I doubt it.
In the end Nigel Farage, as well as commentators on this blog, have hit the nail on the head when they point out that this will ultimately lead to a religious organisation being accused of discrimination when it refuses to conduct a "gay wedding". And of course we're not expecting that organisation to be Muslim, Jewish, Hindu or Buddhist - they're not that brave. No it'll be poor old Christianity, and even then they won't risk offending other minority groups by targeting one of the non-conformist groups; no it'll be middle England at prayer, Church of England. So all 3 of Ian Drivers pet hates; religion, well-off people (by which he means Tories) and anyone who isn't as obsessive about sex as he appears to be.

simon moores said...

Primary instrument showing the aircraft's attitude. Commercial pilots are trained ab initio, to deal with an ADI failure through cross referencing other instruments; ie rate of climb or descent. The problem as seen so often in pilots flying thousands of hours in glass cockpit aircraft; e.g the Air France Airbus South Atlantic disaster, is that when something out of the ordinary happens happens, they forget the simple basics of recovery which are as true of a Cessna as they are of a 747.

Tom Clarke said...

Spot on, Tim, and when that assault on the Church of England happens, as it will like the one on the Christian couple with the guest house, who will be to blame.

I am afraid it will be none other than David Cameron and the Conservative party for pushing through, in the face of rapidily mounting opposition, something Labour never tried in thirteen years in office.

This could cost the party dear unless they pull back from the brink in time.

Tim Clark said...

Is it Tory or LibDem policy?

Tom Clarke said...

Probably Lib/Dem, Tim, but it will not stop the Conservative led coalition getting the blame.

Add the fact that those most likely to be offended will be from the C of E middle England congregations, the self same people in many cases who have just had their aged related tax allowances clobbered.

Pandering to minorities and trying to move away from the nasty party image can make you even nastier than you were to even more folk.

Anonymous said...

Let's explode this crusading, caring Driver myth.

Back before the last local elections, I was dutifully doing my bit delivering leaflets in Broadstairs. Few yards along someone's front path when a voice behind me shouts out something about f***ing Tories.

I turned to see a man walking by and asked him if he wanted to discuss something. "Nothing to discuss. You f***ing Tories are all the same" he shouts as he walks off down the road.

This obscene outburst was within the hearing of a rather startled lady doing her front garden in the adjacent house.

Who was the offender, why none other than Ian Driver and it took place on the road in which he lives. OK, so my word against his, but the independent witness, the gardening lady, is also a Tory voter. I rest my case.

simon moores said...

Sorry but I can't accept an anonymous allegation of bad behaviour by a serving councillor. I am sure you will understand why.

Anonymous said...

Fully understood amd maybe one day I will be in a position to publicly expose his behaviour. Meantime, keep up the good work on your blog.

PS My daughter has landed the Boeing 737 several times thus denying me access to my PC.