You've raised a couple of very important points in your post:
I) Screener prerogative to add obvious high quality photos to the database without referring these to Johan for final screening;
II) Continued dilemma dealing with borderline photos. This point is perhaps more "touchy" in it does not, as you stated, completely solve issues associated with a) the queue and b) photo quality (composition, etc.) that may or may not be suitably appropriate (for a lack of words) to be "fast-tracked" for addition.
Perhaps this is a solution in of itself - an explanation is in order. As of right now there exists a travel list to which Johan has access, containing photos of those that have proven themselves as apt photographers. Indeed their additions still pass through the system of first screening, therefore some of their photos may/may not be rejected before ending up on the list from which Johan makes the final decision. Other contributers wait in the sidelines. Essentially this is a two-tiered system
This proposal entails a 3-tier system
containing the following as basic principles and touches on the points made by Craig and Gerry - call this "risk management" without the "risk":
the current travel list - photos still subject to the rigorous screening process - in which screeners may accept excellent quality photos on behalf of Airliners.net. Should there be a "borderline" photo from the travel list it could fall under jurisdiction of point 2) below;
screener/admin acceptance of high-quality photos contributed by those not currently
on the travel list;
current system involving general category "borderline" photos.
In effect, this would allow Johan to turn his attention from point 1) to point 2) thus, perhaps, accelerating photo review/processing time should the queue grow large again. Obviously this does not solve the issue raised in point 3), however, this certainly shows resolve in maintaining a grasp on the ever-growing database and number of contributions.
There are a few terms in need of definition - such as:
i) "high-quality photos" (obvious full a/c photos with no blatant abberations, distortions, etc... ??);
ii) "borderline photos";
iii) other items ???
These are some thoughts - S4 raised an interesting point from which this arose. Not being fully conversant in the requirements faced by screeners, the above is merely a suggestion that may shed some light onto the introduction of a new system (perhaps?).