Posted by: Tom Chappell | January 19, 2010

General Aviation Scorned

2009 was a turbulent year for air travel.  It seems as though both commercial airlines and general aviation were in the crosshairs of someone or something determined to destroy both industries.  Our federal government seemed to take the lead early in the year by taking every opportunity to demonize the general aviation industry.  Congress and the media aggressively demeaned the executives of the big three automakers for flying in their corporate aircraft to attend government hearings on the economic health of Ford, Chrysler, and General Motors.  General aviation took further insults for the wasteful utilization of jet fuel and the resulting emissions.  This effort to demonize general aviation reeks of hypocrisy, especially when it is at the hands of Speaker Nancy Pelosi and former Vice President Gore (the Green Machine).  Both utilize large corporate-sized aircraft to travel the globe, giving little thought to the waste and pollution they claim to despise.

Now, in response to the near catastrophe of the December 25th “Crotch Bomber,” the resulting security that the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is putting in place will most certainly put another stake into the heart of air transportation.  Or will it?  It will not help commercial airlines bookings but general aviation may reap the benefits of the new inconvenient security policies that we must endure at the nation’s airports.

How would you most like to spend your afternoon?  Would you like to spend several hours standing in a security line at the airport, with TSA personnel patting you down and rummaging through your suitcase?  As you stand there being interviewed and searched by a so-called security officer, you must think ahead to the same treatment on your return flight.

Such inconvenience would make you long for the ease of flying in the general aviation world.  You know, you park your car in the parking lot for a short walk to your aircraft.  Or you just pull up to your aircraft and have your baggage loaded directly onto your chartered aircraft.  Let someone else help with the bags.  Of course, if you want, your flight will be catered with a nice meal, and I don’t mean peanuts.  No pat downs, no long lines, no questions.  Well, you get my drift.

For those that would like to be spoiled, general aviation doesn’t have to be cost prohibitive.  The non-pilot can own an aircraft in this recessionary economy for a comparatively small cost.  You don’t have to purchase an aircraft by yourself.  Instead, discuss the possibility of a partner or maybe two or three.  You may qualify for an equipment depreciation, which translates to lower taxes.  Hire a professional pilot or contract with an aircraft manager whose job is to furnish the crew, hangar, and maintenance.  Let your budget be your guide.  A jet or turboprop aircraft doesn’t fit everyone’s budget.  Maybe a piston-powered twin or single-engine, piston-powered aircraft would be more affordable.  After all, they burn less fuel and annual maintenance costs are usually much less than the more expensive aircraft.  There is one other thing to consider.  In this recession, we have seen the value of good used aircraft at an all-time low.

The TSA could help the airlines greatly by simplifying the security process going forward.  If a procedure doesn’t improve the screening process, don’t do it.  Only those procedures that truly lead to improved security should be enforced.  All others cost the government (TSA) credibility and chase customers away.  What a windfall this could be for the general aviation industry.  If only we got the word out to the masses, yes windfall is the right phrase.

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  1. Let’s get off GA and move forward. There is nothing anyone could have done to prevent the Austin incident. The pilot was flying his private aircraft. 90% of people will never fly and 90% of the remaining 10% have no clue about General Aviation. The pilot could just as well have rented a van like the OK City bomber. If you want to find out what GA is all about, go out to a non-towered airport and talk to the pilots there. We are a great bunch and love to talk about our planes and flying.

    • I’m not really sure what your comment has to do with this blog post…it was written in January, nearly a month before the Austin incident and is pro-general aviation. Might I refer you to another post that may be of interest to you:

  2. I’m 78, a retired aerospace engineer who started to fly at age 15. I have 3500 hours as owner & pilot in command (PIC) of small airplanes…. Part of the reason why so many airline passengers just think we General Aviation pilots are all flying our 150 mph airplanes, lurking in the clouds and just waiting to dive down and crash into a 450 mph airliner, is mostly motivated by jealousy. They hate having to stand in lines kicking their baggage and waiting to check in for late flights that will lose their baggage… They think we all merely walk out to our planes and are on our way to the Bahamas. Not quite true, but it gives ’em a chance to resent and blame us for anything they can…. It really bothers me that some dead, deranged idiot has now influenced so many seemingly intelligent travelers to now give thoughts to somehow trying to push thousands of times more General Aviation planes and pilots off the American airways…. Let all of us who fly on commercial airlines give pause, remember the Wright Brother’s spirit and give thanks to our nation’s people for being the most productive, advanced, powerful & free nation in the world. … Brooks

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