Sally Quinn {"Fear of Flying," Outlook, Sept. 20} offers several good suggestions on how to fix the problems facing our air traffic system -- the problems that make flying more dangerous each day.

I've got a suggestion too: a nationwide boycott. If everyone refused to fly for just one day, maybe the decision-makers would finally take action: admit the system is broken and fix it now.

Millions of Americans could show the president, the Federal Aviation Administration, the Department of Transportation, Congress and the airline industry that they are tired of excuses. An airline boycott would send an incredibly powerful message. All it takes is one person at a time making a decision not to fly for just one day. How about Oct. 20? JOYCE B. PARKIN Reston

I think I speak for a vast number of white-knuckle airline passengers when I say: let's nominate Sally Quinn to fill the position soon to be vacated by Secretary of Transportation Elizabeth Dole. Sally Quinn certainly seems to have a clear understanding of what more and more passengers feel about flying. And if she were in a position to implement some of her straightforward and sensible proposals for taking the outrage, disgust and terror out of flying, perhaps we all could get back to enjoying the "friendly skies." PRISCILLA A. WELSH Lake Ridge, Va.

Sally Quinn is right to be afraid of flying. But she's dead wrong on the first of her recommendations -- requiring "small" planes to have altitude encoding transponders. That little technical fix has been echoed by otherwise thoughtful observers who have swallowed the bait set out by federal bureaucrats and their corporate colleagues.

Right now many air traffic controllers are providing their service through radars that deliberately delete all clear-weather air traffic (those flying under visual flight rules and "squawking 1200," if you want to get technical) through a little electronic wizardry. Why? Because the traffic is so heavy that they can't deal with the clutter on their screens. Obviously, requiring the equipment on moremachines will have no effect onsafety.

It's hard for bureaucrats to acknowledge that the present system is conceptually flawed. All of our gadgetry is the Rube Goldberg-like result of a system conceived at one airport (Chicago's Midway) by one airline. It's flawed because it perpetuates the idea that pilots are responsible for their safety but remain under the control of someone sitting on the ground.

Small planes are not the problem. The problem is that reserving huge chunks of airspace for the sole use of large private planes (the airliners) will give only the illusion of increased safety. It will likely quiet the public uproar, but won't lessen the risk of flying. Listen to the pilots, not the pundits. JAMES C. KELLETT Fairfax The writer is a commercial pilot who also flies single-engine planes for pleasure.