Viable Option, Or Scapegoat?

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As evidence, AVweb offers Exhibit A: a lengthy article from the Orlando (Fla.) Business Journal slugged with the catchy phrase, "Central Florida seeing a rise in aircraft, pilots, runways -- and accidents." That article focused mainly on the lighter end of GA, and especially the high and growing level of flight training being conducted in that state. But, since it noted that "[m]ost general aviation flights do not require a flight plan," its value as a tool to pressure state or federal officials to "do something" about those scary little airplanes shouldn't be underestimated. Exhibit B comes from none other than the Air Transport World Daily News, which noted the "[n]umber of passengers willing to pay premium fares has dropped by half over the past five years, giving business aviation a major boost, according to a study by The Velocity Group.... Business aircraft now account for passenger levels equal to nearly a third of the number flying first, business and full-fare coach combined, according to the study."

The Orlando (Fla.) Business Journal piece came on the heels of last month's announcement by "per-seat, on-demand" DayJet that its first service area would be wholly within -- you guessed it -- Florida. DayJet makes no bones about its attempt to siphon off from the airlines those middle managers who would either drive or overnight on a business trip, with an airline connection or two. But the real game being played here seems to have nothing to do with safety. Instead, it's about whether the scheduled airline industry will succeed in its push to foist user fees on general aviation, thereby achieving the hat trick of making private aviation more expensive, more bureaucratic and a less-attractive alternative to buying an airline ticket. With news stories like these, it could be a long, hot summer.