Tom Haines

Aviation under attack

March 27, 2008 by Thomas B. Haines, Editor in Chief

We’re under attack, fellow aviators. The airlines would like to see general aviation in the United States taxed and user-fee’d out of existence and some environmentalists would like to see all of aviation dramatically reduced.

As you’ve may have read in AOPA Pilot, the airlines have supported in Congress that GA ought to be charged exhorbitant user fees. Of course, the fear is that any user fee on any segment of GA means… the opening of a door that will utlimately lead to user fees for all of GA, as has happend in Canada, Australia and European countries. The airlines have floated their notions on their industry-funded Smart Skies web site.

Now, the environmentalists are out to get aviation and most all of general aviation. Check out this letter to the Plane Stupid Blog, an environmental blog opposed to the expansion of London Heathrow Airport (among other things).

We need to be firm with one clear message; aviation, not just the growth in
aviation will if not reduced dramatically and in a very short timeframe (along
with all other emissions) take us to a point of runaway global heating. In
probability terms we may be close to that point.
The time has come to campaign for a 90% reduction in aviation in the shortest possible timeframe. By stepping up the challenge in line with science we raise the alarm on the true danger; current emissions not just growth in emissions.

There you have it–a call for 90% reduction in aviation–and some sites are calling for a complete elimination of “short-haul” flights. Note there is no discussion of reducing emmissions, but in reducing aviation. Never mind that all of transportation accounts for 14 percent of global CO2 emmissions and that GA accounts for less than two tenths of one percent of global CO2 emmissions. Meanwhile, turbine engines in particular have become amazingly fuel efficient, with specific fuel consumption improving from about 1.0 pounds of fuel per hour per horsepower 50 years ago to about 0.5 pounds with today’s modern turbofan engines. What other mode of transportation can claim such improvements–or match the investments to make such improvements possible?

Where does a 90 percent reduction in aviation leave GA? At the tiedowns and in the hangar. Let’s work to fly efficiently–and with avgas now near $5 per gallon (see AOPA’s Airport Directory Online for current prices), who wouldn’t fly efficiently (what a huge incentive for us)? But let’s also work to keep the focus of the environmental debate on issues that matter and not focused on insignificant contributors to carbon emmissions.

Meanwhile, go flying while you can still enjoy one of the last great freedoms in our country. That freedom is already gone in most parts of the world.

See you up there.


One Response to “Aviation under attack”

  1. Darius A. Marzec Says:

    Agreed. Freedoms will continue to be lost, and there will be no going back. Proponents of scaling back general aviation (for whatever reason, ie environmental, security, etc) will only secure more victories, and the government will only grow in its control over GA. When considered, GA restrictions / regulations are remarkably similar in a way to firearm possession restrictions and confiscation in European countries, and both of these trends will only continue. In 50 years it will likely be too expensive for an average person to learn to fly and have a meaningful hobby. You’re right Mr. Haines, go flying and collect stories to tell your children.

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