Inside the Fence

June 12, 2006
John F. Infanger discusses recent news and a few outtakes from the AAAE convention held in late April in San Diego.

Recent news, and a few outtakes from the AAAE convention held in late April in San Diego...

Of late, front page articles in The Wall Street Journal focused on the pressure airports are getting from airlines to control costs — particularly when it comes to new facilities, and Vern Raburn’s role in bringing the latest phenomenon, very light jets, to a vibrant business aviation industry.

Regarding the former, it may be helpful if the general business community has an appreciation for the pressures airports face in bringing air carriers to their communities. It could also help if members of Congress paid attention when considering proposed cuts to the Airport Improvement Program.

On Raburn, the WSJ basically pays tribute to a man who is trying to bring a new concept to an industry, and to the world of business. The Eclipse 500, set to enter service within a few months, and other VLJs may or may not revolutionize business travel. It is a reminder, however, of how a change in aviation can be a watershed event for the rest of America.

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• Perhaps the favorite quote from this year’s annual AAAE convention comes from Boeing’s Neil Planzer, vice president for Strategy, Advanced Air Traffic Management: “When does JPDO pass the Rubicon and become an action organization and not a discussion organization? At some point, you want leadership.”

JPDO is FAA’s Joint Planning & Development Office, set up by Congress to coordinate government and private sector efforts to modernize the U.S. air traffic control system. After 25 years of discussing ATC change, Planzer wants some action. He seems to think it’s as much an industry attitude problem as a bureaucratic one.

• After suffering through another Marion Blakey speech, one gets the impression (though one has had it before) that the FAA Administrator has totally bought into the Air Transport Association’s proposal regarding how to fund the U.S. aviation system. We won’t know until FAA’s own plan is released for comment. Someday.

One thing about the ATA proposal: It ultimately seeks to modernize ATC. After 20 years of watching this argument, it would appear Mr. Planzer is right.

• James Kerr, project manager for homeland security for the Waukesha County Technical College near Milwaukee, relates that his school has received a grant from the Department of Homeland Security to put together an extension program for security at general aviation airports. He’s looking for input – .

Thanks for reading.