The first time I heard that acronym, I wondered why anyone was talking about Three Mile Island before some smartphone-savvy type patiently explained that it was code for Too Much Information.
There’s much talk these days about how the government has made things too complex. Many pilots would agree, and President Obama has asked for a review of regulations to see what might be reduced. I’m not holding my breath as far as the FARs are concerned, but come along on my fantasy.
On a rainy afternoon recently there was just no better way to prime for a nap than by reading the Federal Aviation Regulations and the Aeronautical Information Manual, known affectionately as the FAR/AIM. Published annually and updated constantly, the latest volume is a weighty tome. The new version is 1,331 pages, up from 1,074 last year which was up from 1,049 the year before. To be fair, this includes Parts 105, 119, 135, 136, 142, and some other esoterica.
There’s lots of flight-critical safety information included, but some pruning is clearly in order. Some industry and most government publications just can’t seem to let go of things that may have been important once but have long been overtaken by events. Or, it was someone’s pet project and legacy.
Some examples from the AIM:
Table 1-1-4 Frequency Pairs Allocated for ILS: Shows how localizer and glide slope frequencies are paired—never had occasion to know that.
1-1-11 Microwave Landing System (MLS): A 2-page detailed system description that 99.999% of the aviation community can’t use because they don’t have the equipment on board and need special authorization—spare the rest of us.
1-1-15 Loran goes on for nine pages, five of which are in full color, outlining the various chains with the pulse and pulse groups—the system is not in much use these days, and this description is something only an engineer could use. Please explain why I need to know the amplitude and frequency of the 100 kHz pulse. Back in the years when I flew Loran, I never found the “tuning function” on the unit and it seemed to work just fine.
The other thing that would help tremendously is to stop speaking in the tongues of legalese and put the regs into normal English. For example, why does it take six paragraphs to tell pilots that except when nature calls, you should be at your seat with the seat belt fastened? For takeoff and landing, shoulder harnesses should be worn unless the aircraft is exempted from having harnesses or controls can’t be reached when the harness is in use.
You can certainly come up with other examples—so let’s hear ’em, and submit them to the FAA for consideration. Don’t hold your breath, but perhaps some sanity would preserve both tree and electrons.
After we tilt this windmill, it’s on to the tax code!
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