This morning, I received the following e-mail from one of the you. I've taken the liberty to cut & paste his letter here and post my reply to him on this thread.
You don't mention what your experience is, but as a former 91/135 jet Capt and now a 121 line pilot, I really tak exception wiht your assertion that pilots are flying bettter equipment.
My 717 had predictive reactive W/S detection, TCAS2, is RVSM compliant, can shoot coupled GPS approaches using VNAV . . . is fully certified for autoland, and also has EGPWS, and full-time autothrottles, autobrakes, ACARS, in addition to overspeedand underspeed protection . . . . . even turbulence detection . . . . tell me one aircraft that even comes close to that!
Tell you one GA
aircraft that even comes close to that? How about just about every bizjet that has been produced in the last 5 to 10 years. Doppler turbulence detecting radar and W/S detection systems are common options on bizjets. Additionally, we usually are equipped with some form of spherics detection equipment. (Windshear isn't the concern for us that it is for the larger aircraft. We don't have reactive windshear equipment because we don't need it; TCAS2 has been around forever; corporate jets have been RVSM certified since day 1 - I flew my first oceanic trip in a RVSM certified trip less than one week are it became a requirement (Long before most domestic airliners were certified.) Fully coupled GPS approaches using VNAV? We've been doing that for nearly 15 years, if not longer. The only time I shoot a "non-ILS format" approach is in training. Autoland, well you got me there, but we do have synthetic vision systems that, according to the FAA, will eventually allow us to fly to Cat 3 minimums at nearly any airport with nearly any approach type - not just at a few specially equipped airports; ACARS - That's old technology. We're flying around with Unilink and AFIS systems that blow ACARS out of the water. Finally, you mention overspeed and underspeed protection. That's old had as well, bizjets have had that stuff of decades.
This kind of stuff just isn't limited to the upper end bizjet market. Yesterday I was waiting for our passengers to show up and started talking to a guy flying a Mooney TLS Bravo. This airplane had Garmin 530s and a UPS (?) MFD complete with radar, weather, traffic and terrain interfaces. He could bring up VFR & IFR enroute, terminal charts, and approach charts! It was simply amazing and in a freaking Mooney.
But going back to the original point of this morning's e-mail general aviation has always been the "lanch customer" of the majority of the new high tech whistles and bells. Why is this? Airline and Charter operators have to make money with their airplanes. You seldom see equipment that doesn't directly add or support the "bottom line". GAaircraft, on the other hand, (corporate jets specifically) aren't profit centers and upper management usually wants to spare no expence when it come to equipment and training. Which leads me to the next part of his e-mail.
Also, I have trained at FSI, Simuflite, and FSI/Boeing, and I can tell you that my airline training was better than my 142 airline training at either FSI or Simuflite.
That doesn't suprise me at all. At every FSI center I've been to they have dedicated simulators that are leased to the airlines. The airlines provide their own instructors. When it comes to Part 121 / Part 135 training sylabuses (sylabii ?), they are developed by the operator and reviewed, line by line, and approved by the FAA.
My experience with 121 and 135 training programs is that they all tend not to go very far at all beyond the minimum requirements spelled out in the FARs. What's the point, it only cost money and nearly all of todays operators are "financially stressed". Then the pilot is sitting in the classroom or in the sim he's not on the line generating revenue. Part 91 bizjet pilots don't have those same restraints in many cases. Hence the major differences in the training courses, including all of the supplimental "enrichment" options that we have.
Personally, I try to avoid flying out of the "big boy's airports" whenever possible. Not because I'm intimidated by them, but because they are simply a pain. Why add to the congestion when the weather's bad, at say Denver, when you can go to one of several near by airports? When I do have to go to one of the major airports it's simply a matter of paying attention and keeping the brain engaged.
[Edited 2004-03-13 16:34:48]