Around the Airport

Monday, June 15, 2015

Are Your Groups Really Fighting For You? Part 2

Side 1
In part one of, “Are Your Groups Really Fighting for You?” I posed the title question and gave you a photo to view.  The goal was to have you look at a typical AOPA magazine ad and consider what might be on the other side.  If you had the publication still on hand, I hope you didn’t peek before your first seriously looked it over. 
OK, so before we move forward, let’s consider what’s in the ad itself.  Being an aviator the first thing I see is the Cub.  I bet it’s the same for you.  See anything wrong?  Yeah, that’s right, the N# on the wing is backwards.
If you’re one of those people saying, “Big deal,” as if it isn’t, please allow me to explain why it actually is.  When companies create ads like this they are trying to sell products.  If you know me you know I have no problem with that and that I am a die hard capitalist.  But, from an advertising and marketing standpoint, I can tell you what else it means.  This ad is no different than Hillary Clinton putting on a down-home country accent when talking to people in the south.  It’s insincere, shows a true lack of understanding, and quite frankly it’s pandering for sales.
The little guy, in his or her small airplane, is who will be crushed by the insane ADS-B rule and its assault on privacy.  And because of that, the little guy is the target of this ad.  The company wishes to sell us grass-roots aviators as many of their relatively inexpensive units as possible.  Therefore, they reached into their bucket of stereotypes and generated a beautiful scene with a Cub flying through it.  This oversimplification, to Freeflight, is who you are.  Nothing more, nothing less; just some outdated pilot flying an old plane.

Want proof of my point?  To them that basic detail, the N#, one that is important to aviators, was of such little concern they got it wrong.  For Free Flight to do this is no different than an advertiser placing a bucket of fried chicken and slices of watermelon into an ad targeted at African Americans.  They see you as a group to target, not one worth understanding in order to create a product you really need.

Please don't get me wrong.  I’m not offended. I merely see them for what they are, predatory morons.  And don’t get me started again on their deceptive twisting of words, “A complete ADS-B system for less than $2000.”  Every pilot I’ve asked has agree, “A complete system” means both in and out.
I’m sorry, I apologize for getting off topic.  Some things just have to be said.  With that out of the way, let’s move on to what’s on the other side.  Click on the photo to enlarge and read it.
Side 2.  Click to enlarge and read.
What do you think about that?  It’s an entire page, written by the Supreme Commander of AOPA, discussing all the things he and AOPA have been doing to help you buy ADS-B units.  Nowhere is there any discussion of continuing to fight the rule.  And nowhere is there mention of any efforts to make the rule less burdensome, well, other than things that would make it easier for you to buy and install units from companies like the one conveniently featured on the previous page.

This is a classic example of what our groups have been doing not for, but to us; a full page ad pandering cheap units followed by a page explaining how AOPA wants to help you afford (buy) them.  Seriously, what do you think about that?  
Are your groups really fighting for you?  Not so much.  But, in the interest of clarity, how about we get one thing straight?  Managing a continuous retreat is not fighting.
Adding insult to injury, and attempting to imply acceptance of the rule as being industry wide, Mark Baker mentions joining forces with 13 other aviation groups to lay out their concerns to the FAA.  Of course, the big players among these groups are all led by people dearly attached to politics, rather than what is right, and some of them even represent manufacturers of ADS-B units.
And as for the manufacturers, Mr. Baker claims both they and the FAA have listened to AOPA's concerns.  How does he prove it?  By pointing out that “new lower-cost products have been announced with a price about half that of the least expensive ADS-B out solutions that were previously available.”  Let’s think about that.  Better yet, let’s consider a comparison.
Today I can order, overnight, a drone that has four motors, carbon fiber props, an on-board computer, a transmitter and receiver, GPS, stabilization, and an autopilot that can be programmed to use the GPS to fly predetermined routes .  On its belly is a three axis stabilized 4K camera that streams video back to my control unit. I can have that complete device in hand for under $1500.  Boiled down, it is a cutting edge flying machine capable of digitally controlled, programmable mechanical flight used to carry and control a cutting edge film device in a fully stabilized manner.  On top of all that, this flying machine can take off by itself and if something goes wrong it can fly itself home.

In contrast to this example, Mark Baker and Freeflight believe we should all soil our panties for a $2000 device (uninstalled) that when turned on determines its current altitude and attitude and sends out a coded signal.  The proverbial “fart in the wind.”

Unfortunately, people just aren’t that ignorant.  Everyone knows you can build that ADS-B unit (complete in the box) for somewhere south of $200.  The same people know the only reason it is being required is politics and a lack of leadership in aviation.  But hey, they can always blame the FAA and liability concerns for the excessive cost.  Pilots have been falling for that one for decades.
Do you want to get down to the cold hard reality of it all?  Anyone who has been paying attention to the whole ADS-B dog and pony show knows AOPA hasn’t caused the price of these things to come down.  Even the FAA knows this rule is going to brutalize our segment of aviation; so do the electronics manufacturers.  They may be arrogant but they aren’t stupid.

During some point in the process of shoving this rule down our throats, you could tell they realized their combined efforts were going to kill the layer of golden eggs.  They also realized this regulation might be the breaking point.  When that happened, like magic, suddenly everything was easier to do, rules could be changed on a whim, and products could be cheaper to build and sell.  But, the only message we hear is AOPA saved you.  It's the perfect symbiotic relationship.
The worst part of all this though is that everyone understands this unit does nothing to improve safety over what we already have.  It merely allows you to meet the minimum requirements of an ill-conceived regulation designed to justify the effort.  This places it firmly in the category of "government gone wild."
OK, so what about that question “Are you groups really fighting for you?”  Pretend AOPA actually was on your side.  If the group could not do away with ADS-B, what would they do instead?  I know what I would do.  You'll get that in Part 3.

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