Wednesday, January 27, 2010

I Bet We Don’t



Randy Babbitt -- Administrator of the FAA -- recently gave a speech at the Aero Club of Washington. It was a good speech. I actually liked it. Right up until the end.

”So let me share with you what my vision of a flight in 2020 would be like. Our clearance is delivered and accepted with Data Link. The radio will only be used for emergencies. We’ll taxi out and takeoff without touching the brakes with no chance of a runway incursion we’ll fly the most efficient course for departure and enroute at our most efficient altitude. Complete high fidelity weather information will be will be available to the pilots and controllers for the full projected route and avoided using predictive weather tools. We will descend and reach our destination using a continuous descent approach.“

I bet we don’t. I bet a flight plan -- just like now -- barely survives past Approach Control saying “radar contact”. Which is usually followed by “Can we get on course, Approach ?” I bet that weather still generates delays and will still be unpredictable. Which, of course, means CDAs won’t survive the first thunderstorm.

I do believe things will get better. Despite the lessons of the last 3 decades, I still believe things will get better.

Good speeches are evidently not hard to come by. I’ve heard a number of them in my years in aviation. The future is much harder to write. I often wonder why anyone tries. It must be human nature.

No one’s vision of America’s future in aviation will come true unless we find a way of making it profitable. Until we find a way for the airlines to make money, no one can afford the level of safety -- much less service --that the public demands. Much like banking, there’s no point in harping on it. We know what needs to be done because we’ve seen it work. And how the alternative doesn’t work. We need to regulate the airline industry (and the banking industry.) Period.

And just a friendly note. Stop trying to predict the future. It makes you look foolish. (Note: I left that link until the last sentence because you’ll want to spend some time exploring that blog. It is way cool.)

Don Brown
January 27, 2010

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