Execs and experts speak out on key topic
Pro Pilot staff compilation
Let us look at some figures. In particular, let's consider 380 occupied flight hours in 6 months. That's a fair amount of flying aboard a business jet.
In fact, that's the kind of utilization seen by the fractionals during the peak years of 2004–08. And those were the highest utilization numbers found anywhere in the world's fleet in those boom years.
It sounds like whoever flew that much must be an active supporter of business jets.
But this is not quite the case. You see, that's how much flying President Barack Obama did to meet both with supporters and with the undecided during the 2012 election campaign.
This figure does not include the flying done in the line of his official Presidential duties. Yes, this is the same President who decried the use of business jets by corporate executives throughout his 1st term.
Let's look at a couple of other numbers, starting with $179,750. That's the official GAO calculation of the per-hour cost to the US government to operate Air Force One.
Now, we the taxpayers didn't pay $179,750 for each of those 380 hrs—President Obama's campaign fund did, in fact, reimburse us for each passenger on board who was there strictly to work on his re-election, in amounts roughly equal to the Standard Industry Fare Level (SIFL) rate.
That's the rate used to calculate the federal tax owed by employees for personal use of a company business jet.
President Barack Obama crosses the tarmac at LAX—behind him, the world's largest business jet.
In the case of the President's 2-hr flight from Chicago to Denver on Oct 26, it works out to about $614 per campaign-working passenger of the $359,500 total trip cost.
So if 20 campaign workers were on board that 747, the taxpayer's cost for the trip was reduced by—$12,280! That means we probably saved about $230,000 of the $68 million it cost to fly Air Force One during the campaign.
That trip was but one of many whirlwind tours made by the President during the closing weeks of the election campaign. After addressing 16,000 supporters in person during a Denver rally, he launched to Los Angeles for another campaign event.
Enroute he gave a 15-min pep talk via flight phone to 17,000 swing-state volunteers. During another flight he made a personal appeal during a 20-min conference call to 9000 undecided voters, according to ABC News.
President Obama made an 8-state "battleground blitz" during the final 38 hrs of the campaign. Starting in Iowa, he flew to Colorado, Nevada, California, Florida, Virginia and Ohio before returning to Illinois to vote.
The old saw that begins, "What's good for the goose" comes immediately to mind. President Obama made a pretty convincing case for business jet travel these past few months. His schedule highlighted the need for the efficient, effective use of time and the importance of face-to-face communications—the need to "press the flesh" to establish a personal relationship with his customers—er, constituents—in order to close the deal with the American voter.
It sounds like our President would be an excellent spokesman for the NBAA/GAMA "No plane, no gain" campaign. Maybe then he'd stop criticizing corporate executives who use business jets the same way he did—to close deals and get our economy moving again.
We humans tend naturally to hold on to what we know. We are often resistant and skeptical of the value of change. But just because something is the way it's always been doesn't mean it's still the best way.
NextGen, SESAR and other ATM modernization initiatives around the world are going to make substantial changes to the way we've always done things. NextGen is arguably the largest infrastructure modernization program since the US Federal Interstate Highway System.
Yes, NextGen will be different, but it will be better, as these changes promise to provide more efficiency and safety for all aspects of air transportation, reducing delays and emissions while stimulating growth in our industry and economies.
When we think about the "tried and proven" technologies we rely on today when we take to the skies, the simple fact is that, while they have served us well up until now, they have outlived their usefulness and are no longer able to keep pace as we continue to grow.
Garmin G5000 integrated avionics system incorporates digital touchscreen controllers. The system is compliant with FANS 1/A and CPDLC requirements.
Radar-based air traffic surveillance, voice communications, and navigation by reference to land-based navigational aids were revolutionary technological achievements when introduced in the early 20th century.
They have evolved little since WWII, yet we are still using these technologies in present-day aviation. The ATM modernization initiatives will be a major leap forward, leveraging useful new technologies to get the right information to the right person effectively and at the right time.
When it comes to air traffic surveillance, radar has served us very well, but we've reached capacity due to its inherent limitations. ADS-B technology allows all airspace users to broadcast highly accurate identification, state and intent information, not only to ATC but to all other airspace users. This allows all airspace users to see the same picture and affords truly collaborative decisionmaking.
Next, consider voice communications. When you think about it, we pilots have perfected a strange set of skills, using an AM radio to monitor weather from ATIS and ASOS, while using a second frequency to interact with ATC.
We also marvel at our skills to receive, write down, read back and enter complex clearances and amendments into the FMS, often while flying the aircraft. But datacomm will change all that.