With the start of a new year comes time for reflection on the old year and my hopes for the new one. In aviation, the past year held many memorable moments; for a former NTSB member like myself who has been on site after many fatal crashes the best part was the continuing accident-free record for U.S. airline flights.
“No traditional business jet will take you closer to the speed of sound,” promises Gulfstream in an announcement about its recently certified G650, which boasts a maximum velocity of Mach 0.925.
Boeing didn’t get much of a chance to savor its near-record year-end sales figures and 2012 rate-increase successes.
Missouri senator Claire McCaskill (Democrat) hit the nail on the head when she wrote to the FAA about easing rules on the use of portable electronic devices (PEDs) in aircraft. Her letter seeks to have the FAA reconsider restrictions on PEDs, citing as one example the fact that many airline pilots are now using switched-on iPads during taxi, takeoff and landing without any problems.
Imagine seeing this headline: “Major Airline Uses Student Pilots on Passenger Flights.” There would be universal outrage and condemnation if an airline tried to put students in the cockpit on passenger-carrying flights–even if “just” to handle the radios or practice touching some of the controls in cruise flight.
When John Adams proclaimed, “I believe in a government of laws, not of men,” he couldn’t have imagined just how many laws—or how much legal mumbo-jumbo—his descendants would have to endure. In his day, after all, people didn’t do things like put an empty sheet at the end of the Constitution labeled, “This page intentionally left blank.”
I am so relieved that the U.S. presidential election is finally over. The past year—and especially recent months—have been marked by an undercurrent of anxiety, with otherwise-loving families having cocktail-soaked dinner wars and old friends severing Facebook ties over national policy issues. Perhaps now we can all stop bickering and get down to business.
Washington, D.C., seems to be a city that is in perpetual crisis. Now the U.S. government is in conniptions over the “fiscal cliff.” Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke coined that metaphor to describe the tax increases and automatic spending cuts that kick in on January 2 unless Democrats and Republicans somehow tame the $16 trillion national debt.
When it comes to decriminalization of aviation accidents, the world seems to take one step forward and two back.
This month, I’m turning my blog space over to the reader who submitted the following letter to our magazine.—Jeff Burger, editor of AIN sister publication Business Jet Traveler
An Open Letter to the Editors of Business Jet Traveler: