The vast majority of General Aviation aircraft –be they as basic as a Cessna 172 or as sophisticated as the Gulfstream G-650-—offers the advantages of swift transportation. While a Gulfstream obviously is much faster than a Cessna and can transit far greater distances, a vehicle that flies direct between departure point and destination reduces travel time compared with autos and, depending upon travel distance, usually consumes less door-to-door time than a similar trip via the scheduled airlines. Furthermore, a company or entrepreneur is expected to choose appropriately between a simple GA four-seater and a high-performance business jet to fulfill the desired travel mission. When owners and operators apply a modicum of imagination and creativity, however, even the simplest GA aircraft can be used successfully to expand business opportunities.
Business requires that people interact. Internet and email are impressive, but nothing replaces face-to-face communications to facilitate relationships, develop trust and make “the sale”. Such face-to-face dialogue has been inhibited by the nature and business model of scheduled airline service.
In the previous 30 years, the number of US airports offering scheduled air service has fallen from about 700 to somewhere around 500, a reduction of nearly 30 percent. Further reflecting the focused nature of airline service, less than 40 US airports account for more than 70 percent of all enplanements of airline passengers. Since 2007 the airlines have made a concerted effort to reduce flights between all hubs, especially at secondary and tertiary cities, in order to achieve higher load factors. Thus locating a scheduled flight to many locations where business opportunities exist is nigh-on impossible. Consequently, business persons are using automobiles to cover distances ranging up to several hundreds of miles.
A simple GA aircraft can cover in one hour the miles traveled in two hours by an automobile cruising at legal speeds on our nation’s Interstate highways, and not all locations are connected by the Interstate system. Higher performance GA types can easily exceed highway speeds by a factor of three, and turboprops and jets are considerably faster. Considering that aircraft fly direct, travel by GA require less transit time. Trips that would consume two or three days by car or regional air carrier can be completed in a day.
Our nation has more than 5,000 public-use airports with adequate facilities to accommodate the typical GA aircraft. In round numbers, GA has access to 10 times the number of airports that are served by any form of scheduled air travel and 100 times the locations with convenient, business-friendly scheduling. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has shown that the vast majority of the U.S. population is located with 20 miles of an airport from which a typical GA aircraft can be operated safely. NASA also has noted that a typical GA aircraft can provide faster door-to-door transportation than the airlines on trips up to about 500 miles, even when scheduled service exists.
Obtaining greater benefits from GA requires little more than the proficiency to operate safety and knowledgeably within our National Airspace System. Today’s electronics (e.g., Global Positioning Satellites for navigation, XM weather for locating thunderstorms, advanced aids such as Automatic Dependence Surveillance for traffic information and data flow, numerous apps for flight planning, and highly reliable nav/comms) add capability and peace-of-mind to today’s GA operations.
GA offers business men and women the means to reach more customers, expand markets and use time productively. A General Aviation aircraft, either owner flown or operated by a salaried pilot, provides unmatched transportation. Take a fresh look at what such travel capability can do for you and your company. You will be pleasantly impressed.
The opinions expressed by the bloggers do not reflect AOPA’s position on any topic.