Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Traveling By “Corporate” Airplane
A local breakfast flight emphasizes the value of corporate aviation
Perhaps equally important, corporate flying isn’t limited to folks who operate multimillion-dollar jets over thousand-mile legs. Business aircraft run the gamut from the smallest general aviation singles to airliners. Many pilots fly short distances in modest four- to six-place singles or twins. I’m probably typical of that group, flying an older single over stage lengths that average between 200 and 400 nm.
Back in the days of $2-per-gallon avgas, I was able to make the economics work on legs as far as Oshkosh, especially when I had the luxury of carrying two passengers to split the cost. That’s a tougher trick these days.
Still, travel by business airplane makes sense in many respects. In addition to scheduling flexibility, business aircraft offer ultimate security since, in most instances, every passenger is known to the company and cleared for flight. On corporate jets, professional, two-person flight crews have a safety record comparable to that of the airlines. Post-trip fatigue is dramatically reduced when there’s no eight-year-old kid kicking your seat back for three hours.
If you live a few miles from LAX and your mission is a business meeting in downtown Manhattan, it may make economic sense to fly the airlines, especially if you have the luxury of scheduling your travel several weeks in advance.
Six months after 9/11, a good friend and well-known aviation celebrity finally decided he’d had enough and bought an A36 Bonanza specifically because of the unrealistic security demands of the TSA. He has since upgraded to a P210N, and with the exception of flying coast-to-coast, he does most of his business commuting in his aircraft.
The myth of corporate extravagance, however, will probably continue to plague the public’s perception of business aircraft.
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