Congress last month once again extended the FAA’s current authorization and aviation taxes until December 14, making it increasingly unlikely that the question of how to pay for operating the FAA and simultaneously modernizing the entire air traffic system will be settled anytime soon.
A small percentage–about 20 percent–of the piston-powered fleet requires 100-octane fuel. Yet these aircraft burn about 70 percent of the total avgas volume, according to Allen Bretz, director of general aviation market at ConocoPhillips.
Sen. John Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.), chairman of the Senate aviation subcommittee, and ranking member Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.) are expected to introduce an FAA reauthorization bill this week to counter one the Bush Administration released in February.
In the wake of Hurricane Katrina the surge in auto-fuel prices–with the per-gallon increases lagging just hours behind the rising flood waters–was at the forefront of everybody’s mind. A flurry of activity on the political front–including the release of six million barrels of crude oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve–further focused the nation’s attention on the cost of keeping America’s engines running.
European regional airlines don’t need to be told that fuel prices could stunt their growth. But one industry official believes that operators must start to view high fuel costs in the broader context of all expenses, and resist the temptation to blame them for all losses. Speaking at the ERA gathering, Professor Judith Patterson reminded operators of commercial aviation’s fundamental dependence on petroleum, “unlike other transport modes.”
Although pilots often overlook evaluating the quality of the fuel they pump into their aircraft, fuel quality warrants a close look.
There is an instance of pilots finding milk in their fuel tanks. No one ever determined how the milk found its way into the aircraft.
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