In response to Richard J. Vogl's suggestion (Letters, Feb. 21) that all non-commercial aircraft be banned from overflying urban areas, I wish to point out that complex environment issues are seldom resolved by simplistic solutions based upon a fundamental misunderstanding of the facts. A professor with 25 years of experience, like those he undertakes to teach, should know the value of doing one's homework. To wit:
Vogl states that the basic problem is too many aircraft. This may be so, but if so, they are not private aircraft. The private fleet has been undergoing a steady, if lamentable, attrition since the late 1950s. As an example, Santa Monica Airport reports a drop in takeoffs and landings of about 50% for the 20-year period from 1966 to 1986. Commercial air travel has been steadily increasing over the same interval.
Whether "urban ecologists" believe that "all unnecessary aircraft should be prohibited from flying over populated areas" remains to be established. Does Vogl speak for a coalition? How are we to define "unnecessary" aircraft?
General aviation private aircraft perform a myriad of services essential to the well-being of our nation. Corporate America depends upon small aircraft to do business upon which we all depend for our prosperity. Medical patients, who are often denied transportation on commercial carriers, owe their lives to small aircraft and helicopters. As far as the community service aspects, the "common good" of which Vogl so highly speaks, commercial aviation is no more "essential" than any other kind, perhaps less.