Remote Possibilities

There has been much discussion about Remote Tower Service (RTS) technology, and while RTS is being tested in Europe, proponents would be wise to consider the significant danger posed by cyberattacks.

According to a report by the European Cockpit Association (ECA) issued November 10, 2014, “Cybersecurity has become an increasing source of concern within the aviation community and remote tower operations have the potential to increase the vulnerabilities of the system given the very nature of the concept.”

Specifically, aircraft systems, on-ground systems/networks, and data transfers between aircraft and ground need to be protected from hacking, data manipulation and viruses.

The ECA encourages implementation of precautionary measures to prevent attacks and to minimize their effects. Additionally, a mandatory reporting system for cyber-related events must become an essential part of any airport security management system.

Douglas Rike

Baltimore, Maryland

Misuse of Moon's Assets

Near the end of “Mexico on the Moon,” Jason Crusan, director of NASA’s Advanced Exploration Systems Div., talks of the lunar surface’s potential. But the director’s vision is flawed.  

The Moon’s resources are limited; using them for “exploration and pioneering” of anywhere else other than the Moon, as Crusan mentions, is foolhardy.  

People sent to the Moon will require manufacturing, food production and medical facilities. As a lunar population grows, so will the need for educational facilities and other infrastructure. 

However, mining and limited refining in the asteroid belts should be pursued as soon as practicable. 

The Moon is at best a limited resource. 

Peter J. Peirano

Ridgewood, New Jersey

Get Serious

According to SpaceX President/COO Gwynne Shotwell, the loss of a Falcon 9 launch vehicle, and a valuable payload, was a “hiccup,” as stated in the recent Aviation Week & Space Technology item “SpaceX Stalls.”

I wonder what would have happened if it had been a bad cough.

Downplaying this catastrophic loss sets the wrong tone for progress.

Steven Bezman

Alexandria, Virginia

Up- and Downsides of Gulf Carriers

As an airline captain, I am an experienced traveler both for work and pleasure. I have had a positive experience traveling in coach on Qatar Airways. I love visiting the Middle East and have come to admire its people, culture and history.

But I also have had the opportunity to speak candidly with employees of some Gulf carriers as well as with workers for an airport operations company. What I saw in their eyes and heard in their voices was a mixture of fear and paranoia. These workers hailed from Europe, North and South America, and India, but none felt they were accorded fair or equitable treatment by their employers.

Because the Gulf Carriers are owned and controlled by governments that are ruled by members of a few privileged clans, there is no recourse for those who are not so well connected. 

Jens Flottau has covered the topic of the Gulf carrier dispute in Aviation Week. Surely the U.S. and Europe will not just sit back and watch the Gulf carriers usurp the Western market. I think a line is being crossed by people who do not embrace the Western definition of freedom. 

Competition can be a great spur, but it is not so great when companies based in free societies are competing against uber-wealthy, restricted societies.

Capt. T.W. Velasco

Salt Lake City, Utah

Collusion All Around

Recent news reports indicate the U.S. government is investigating whether some airlines have been conspiring to minimize expansion in order to maintain high fares. 

The government should also investigate the FAA for aiding the abysmal state of minimal infrastructure expansion by devoting little or no effort to building new airports to increase system capacity. 

Most of our key airports have slot restrictions, and thus airlines cannot increase schedules. The airlines are not alone when considering when and how to increase seats.

Harry Schmidt 

Cromwell, Connecticut

This page has been edited to reflect modifications to Up- And Downsides to Gulf Carriers item.