From the Washington Post:
Long-time Senate aide Robert T. Herbert, in his bid for the top job at the Federal Aviation Administration, appears to be making headway against a rival backed by Washington’s labor establishment.
Herbert advises Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on transportation, defense and homeland security issues. Herbert has been locked in dogfight with Duane Woerth, a former president of the Air Line Pilots Association. Both men are regarded within Washington aviation circles as accomplished aviators and qualified to run the agency.
Woerth was identified as the leading contender for the job early on, and has the backing of the AFL-CIO. But Herbert has been pushing back. Reid sent a letter of support on behalf of Herbert to the Obama transition team last month. Additionally, Herbert met late last week with incoming Transportation Secretary Ray H. LaHood, the same day LaHood was confirmed to the post by the Senate.
A lengthy and fascinating article by Aviation Week’s George Larson reflecting on the legacy of PSOD (Per Seat On-demand) air travel as popularized by the now-defunct DayJet. There’s lots to think about; Larson does a great job comparing and contrasting the various models of air charter and air taxi services. Here one small excerpt:
PSOD has little appeal for charter operators who want to serve traditional markets. Magellan Jets is a newly formed company that has a unique business proposition: “Simplicity,” says president and co-owner Anthony P. Tivnan. Aimed at the higher end clientele, the service provides aircraft seven years old or newer in a range of sizes to fit the trip, which includes everything and has no addition fees or invoices. All costs are deducted from an account with $250,000 on deposit.
“The per-seat model is the wrong place, wrong time,” he says. “We’re not positioning ourselves to target fliers who travel one to three times a year. The 30-percent decline in charter has been mostly those people.” He’s also not drawn to passenger aggregation schemes. “Our customer wants the airplane,” he says. Magellan customers are primarily looking for privacy.
It took 14 years, but the FAA and its ATC transformation plans have been dropped from the Government Accountability Office’s “bad government” watch list, that identifies programs at high risk for fraud, waste, and abuse.
Faced with growing air traffic and aging equipment, FAA launched an ambitious effort in 1981 to modernize its air traffic control system. Key projects, however, were plagued by cost overruns, schedule delays, and performance shortfalls. Because of the program’s expense-estimated at $36 billion-and its critical importance to safe and efficient air travel, GAO added FAA air traffic control modernization to the High-Risk List in 1995. GAO is removing this program from its 2009 High-Risk List because of FAA’s progress in addressing most of the root causes of its past problems and the agency’s commitment to sustaining progress. FAA’s efforts have yielded results, including deploying new systems across the country and incurring fewer cost overruns. GAO will continue to monitor the modernization as well as the transition to the planned satellite-based Next Generation Air Transportation System.
The science and technology website Physorg.com has a brief but interesting article entitled “Continuous Descent: Saving Fuel and Reducing Noise for Airliners.” An excerpt:
Proponents hope the 90-day test at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport – currently the nation’s busiest airport – will move the concept one step closer to nationwide implementation. Estimates suggest that continuous descent arrivals could save a large airline as much as $80 million per year in fuel costs alone.
“In commercial aircraft, we see anywhere between 300 and 1,000 pounds of fuel saved for each arrival,” said John-Paul Clarke, director of the Air Transportation Laboratory at Georgia Tech and an associate professor in the School of Aerospace Engineering. “With fuel cost at $3 per gallon, that would amount to as much as $600 per arrival and could really add up for the airlines at a time when they need all the savings they can get.”