IFR Required

September 22nd, 2013 by Jack Olcott

Fortunate is the businessmen or women who is certified as a pilot, maintains proficiency in the art and technology of flight, and has access to a General Aviation aircraft. Such capabilities enable access to a world of opportunity unmatched by public transportation.

Scheduled airlines offer transportation to approximately 10 percent of our nation’s public-use airports, but they provide frequent schedules to less than 50 locations across the USA. Furthermore, an airline trend known as “Capacity Discipline”, which is designed to increase passenger load-factors, has exacerbated the lack of transportation to smaller markets and rural America. According to a recent report from MIT’s International Center for Air Transportation, scheduled air carriers reduced departures by 8.8 percent from major hubs and by 21.3 percent from secondary hubs since 2007. Increasingly, scheduled air transportation is not able to satisfy the needs of an active business person in this era of high speed commerce.

Obviously, charter is a viable means for utilizing the benefits of General Aviation for business transportation. But in some cases the options are limited, cost can be high, and it is challenging to select a suitable provider among the nearly 2,500 companies licensed by the federal government to provide on-demand commercial air transportation.

An owner-flown aircraft enables travelers to have the flexibility and control of a private automobile while benefiting from significantly greater travel capabilities. A modest GA aircraft travels about two to three times the speed of a car. Thus the area that a pilot can cover per hour of travel is four to nine times the area reachable by auto. Business calls that might require several days of travel can be completed in one. No need to compress a meeting in order the fit into an airline schedule. GA pilots know well the advantages of controlling their own air travel.

Utilizing the benefits of General Aviation for business travel—the arena known as Business Aviation—requires piloting knowledge and skill sufficient to be safe and proficient with instrument flight procedures. While VFR-only capabilities may be adequate in certain parts of the USA, such as areas where traffic is light and the weather is often severe clear, maintaining business appointments is highly problematic when IFR capability is not available. Furthermore, in many areas of the country (e.g., near the nation’s busier airports) even VFR procedures for transiting Class B and C airspace demand IFR-like proficiency. The non-professional pilot who uses his or her aircraft for business transportation must possess a high degree of knowledge and skill. Such are the requirements for being an active participant in the world of business travel.

To capture fully the many capabilities of a General Aviation aircraft, pursue instrument qualifications and maintain IFR proficiency. The goal is well worth the effort.

Jack Olcott

Jack Olcott is president of General Aero Co. and past president of the National Business Aviation Association. Olcott has a rich history in aviation, including working as a flight instructor and flight research specialist, leading aviation media properties for McGraw-Hill, and serving on various advisory boards and councils. His current activities involve advocating the advantages of business aviation domestically as well as internationally. Olcott has more than 8,500 hours of flight time and type ratings in a Learjet, Citation I and II, Dassault Falcon 50/900, and Beech Model 300/1900.

The opinions expressed by the bloggers do not reflect AOPA’s position on any topic.

  • John McKinley

    Great article, Jack.

    Reminds me of our work on the NASA SATS program.

    John

    • http://aopa Jack Addison

      Jack (great name), you are hard to keep track of. But, glad you’re still keeping the woof away from the door!!

      Remember, Musketeer, NASA Ames 1972. 1000 years ago.

      Jack Addison
      Lancair 360, Mk II, all glass

  • http://Principle-Based.com Roger Farr

    Exactly the reason I went on to get my IFR rating and then my Commercial certificate. I didn’t want to get stuck waiting for VFR weather and miss my next appointment.

    Also makes it easy to leave in the late afternoon, fly 150 miles to a dinner appointment and speaking engagement in a busy city center (downtown GA airport) and then sleep in my own bed in the country before 10 pm!

  • Chris Moon

    Yesterday I left at before noon for a business meeting 100 miles away, met for three hours, and returned home for dinner. Try that while driving.

    It was a perfect VFR day yesterday, but I have previously made the trip a number of times in the clouds, and never yet had to miss a departure or return. The IFR rating is a must for business flying.