Inside the Fence

March 8, 2001

Inside the Fence

By John Infanger, Editorial Director

March 2001

If only Bill Clinton were DOT Sec-retary, we’d get plenty of attention but never be at fault.
Meanwhile ...
Come into my conference center, schmooz with representatives of corporate flight departments and 135s — come all airports and FBOs. This annual opportunity to display one’s capabilities before bizjet decisionmakers is the NBAA Schedulers & Dispatchers Conference, and it continues to be vibrant. This year, it was held at Nashville’s Opryland Hotel.
It has proven for many exhibiting FBOs to be a marketing coup. It is the perfect forum for an airport and its vendors to hawk their services. And everyone is visible, limited to a 10x10 booth. Contact

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NBAA recently completed its annual survey of corporate flight departments. Elsewhere, we share a few of the findings related to fuel storage and purchasing habits. Check out NBAA’s website for more.
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In Cook County, IL, a group of towns purchased a quarry to turn into a garbage dump. However, it seems settling water attracted birds, turning the property — theoretically — into a wetland, as well as into a remediation lawsuit. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the quarry did not qualify as a wetland because it was not connected above or underground to a waterway, and the towns could proceed.
A call to environmental specialist Bonnie Wilson at ACI-NA brought the following: The ruling should not have any sweeping impact for airports in terms of mitigation. The best lesson from this may be that those facing a wetland issue should have a clear understanding of how a property may be interconnected hydrologically.
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The Armbrust 3rd annual Jet Fuel Conference in Miami brought predictions of fairly stable supply and price for the next 20 years.
One session at the conference raised the issue of rule ATA 103 and how it is being mis-applied by many refueling operators (page 25).
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Jim Allen of SkyHi Nashville in Nashville shares his ideas on how a small flight school can make money in today’s market, though he foresees many such companies packing it in, primarily due to insurance. One key, he says, is how CFIs are compensated.
Flight instructors are also the focus when contributing editor John Boyce looks into the state of training. What he finds, to little surprise, is that the demand chain is pulling them out of the training level. A concern being raised: Is training maintaining its safety record? "Babies teaching babies," says one.
One avenue for flight schools to explore is the pool of inactive pilots who might be interested in becoming instructors.
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Finally, it is hard to see how four megacarriers (that includes South-west) can serve competition. But then, one can hardly see how any or all will sustain their mega-status. Big, it seems, is not an inherently good thing in the airline business.
The greatest migraines during this process may be felt by the people running the airports, who will have to scramble to adjust their capacity and capabilities to the whims of airlines in a massive state of flux. Building a $20 million runway to try and hit a moving target is not good planning, nor the best use of the taxpayers’ — er, users’ — money.
Thanks for reading.