Letters: 12/05

Fuel Efficiency
Your desire to promote lower gasoline consumption and more fuel-efficient cars is laudable (First Word, November 2005), but having more stringent CAFE standards is not the panacea it seems. In 2002, the Committee on the Effectiveness and Impact of Corporate Average Fuel Economy, National Research Council, released a study of the past and possible future effects of more stringent CAFE standards.

They found that market incentives-higher prices and resultant consumer demand-were more effective at reducing fuel usage than the CAFE standards were. More stringent standards also don’t have the direct effects that most people assume and sometimes result in negative consequences. For instance, rapid downsizing and downweighting of new vehicles that began in 1978 as a result of stricter CAFE standards was responsible by 1993 for about 2000 more fatalities annually than would have occurred had vehicles remained as large as they were prior to 1978.

It was also determined that higher vehicle prices caused by implementation of new fuel-efficiency technology caused many people to keep their old gas guzzlers longer than they would have otherwise, thus negating to some extent the advantages of introducing that new technology.

The committee noted that more consumers than expected responded in such a manner. Some automakers stopped producing larger vehicles to meet stricter standards. While this may not seem to be a problem, especially to drivers of smaller vehicles, you deny choices to a market segment that for the most part has valid needs for such vehicles.

One could argue about free markets versus government-controlled markets. After all, CAFE standards can affect overall fuel consumption of the nations vehicles, but the market is far better at producing those results than the CAFE standards are. We must recognize that stricter CAFE standards are not the easy answer they seem to be at first glance and that they often produce negative results to go along with the positive. While the market typically responds slowly to consumer demand for more efficient vehicles as a result of higher fuel costs, history shows that they do respond. And pardon me if I missed something, but how are higher fuel prices and/or increased CAFE standards a good thing for GA?

Bob Simmons
Xenia, Ohio

We see higher fuel prices as a positive trend because of the unmistakable market signal it sends to drivers to seek more-efficient vehicles, ultimately leveling oil demand and stabilizing prices.


CO Detectors
Thanks for publishing the article on CO detectors. As an AME who has just helped a pilot obtain his medical after a near miss with CO poisoning, I have to take issue with the assumption that symptoms should be recognizable by the victim.

The carbon monoxide molecule competes with oxygen-and wins-for attachment to hemoglobin in red blood cells, resulting in symptoms of hypoxia, such as headache and confusion not usually noticed immediately by the victim.

None of the three occupants of the Cherokee were aware of a problem until, after landing, the passengers complained of headaches. The pilot walked in front of the airplane and lost consciousness, striking his head and sustaining a skull fracture. I feel these people were within minutes of falling asleep permanently, but all survived to tell the tale. I suggest monitors with visual and/or audible alarms which would be more noticeable by an impaired individual. Because of this incident, I now have one in my cockpit.

James L. Edwards, MD
Senior AME
LaPorte, Indiana


Did you consider testing non-aviation units like the 12-volt models used in RVs? They are cheap and easy to find. They might be an inexpensive option for homebuilts.

Tony Thigpen
Via e-mail

As explained in the article, the problem with these detectors is lack of low-level detection capability, say below 50 PPM.


Color is Cool
I just received my new color issue and experienced an odd sense of dj vu. About 20 years ago, another of my favorite periodicals, Fine Woodworking, introduced their first color issue. And I swear the editor around that time was a guy named Paul Bertorelli. Same man?

By the way, I love the color, just as I did 20 years ago.

Jim Murphy
Via e-mail

Yup, its the same guy still coloring outside the lines.


Piper Correction
In your review of the Piper Archer, the Piper Owner Society Website address is incorrect. The correct address should be www.piperowner.org. Thanks for the mention.

Randy Augustinak
Piper Owner Society