Business and transportation go hand-in-hand. To prosper, businesses need to service existing customers in a fashion that maintains their loyalty. To expand, businesses must reach new markets. Without swift and cost-effective transportation, business persons are limited in their ability to maintain and grow their activities.
Hence the need for Business Aviation, which I assert could be used by a larger segment of the public if we made flying easier. An ancillary benefit from facilitating use of General Aviation aircraft for business transportation would be more discretionary and pleasure flights, just as we use automobiles as an essential element in everyday activities.
While part of the joy of flying is mastering a challenging task, using a GA aircraft for routine business or pleasure transportation is not easy—certainly not as easy as driving a car. We seem to take for granted that just about anyone with a driver’s license can rent an unfamiliar car at a strange airport and safely venture off onto a stormy night. Such is the ease of operation of the typical car. If GA aircraft were as easy to operate, I assert that society be the beneficiary.
Technology enables an aerial vehicle about the size and aeronautical complexity of the average General Aviation aircraft to fly remotely over any area of the globe to rain Hellfire missiles on our enemies. We certainly could use elements of that drone technology to make GA aircraft more user friendly.
Consider the following scenario for an Advanced General Aviation Aircraft (AGAA): Flight plans for our hypothetical AGAA begin with the pilot entering his or her desired path into a home computer or tablet. An app such as ForeFlight evaluates weather and navigational facilities along available routes and selects the optimum path for safety and minimum fuel burn. The proposed flight planning system for an AGAA avoids routes that conflict with IFR traffic, and the resulting plan is transmitted to the autopilot of our advanced aircraft.
Depending on the inclination of the pilot, the flight could be flown totally on autopilot or manually. If the latter mode were selected, technology would provide desirable handling qualities for ease of manual flight and automatic correction should the pilot inadvertently approach the boundaries of the aircraft’s flight envelop. Engine monitors would continuously assess the health of the engine/aircraft, alerting the pilot to issues that might present problems. Nearby traffic would be presented to the pilot of our AGAA, and the system’s autopilot would take over if needed to avoid a midair.
Considering the state of today’s avionics equipment for General Aviation as well as the extensive use of drones in military and civilian applications, such an Advanced General Aviation Aircraft is technically feasible. Furthermore, I believe that an AGAA would be welcomed by a latent market for such a form of transportation. Many people express a desire to fly, start lessons, obtain a student certificate, but drop out before earning their private or becoming active aviators. Only about 40 percent of student pilots advance to private status, and about half of the holders of private certificates remain active beyond their first 100 hours of flying. Our community’s dropout rate reflects the potential for GA if aircraft were more user friendly and productive for the average person.
Being user friendly implies being more affordable. If an aircraft were easier to operate for business and pleasure, the demand for aircraft would be expanded significantly and costs would be reduced. If Detroit sold automobiles at the same rate that Wichita sells GA aircraft, the average family car would cost well over a million dollars.
It is time for our community to aggressively develop an Advanced General Aviation Aircraft.