As usual, Cessna CEO gets it right
I’ve always been a big fan of Cessna Aircraft Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer Jack J. Pelton. On Pelton’s watch, the Pride of Kansas has grown profitably while maintaining a very high level of quality in their flying machines. Pelton shoots straight, and when he speaks, people should listen.
And last Friday in a speech to government and industry officials at the Aero Club of Washington, I really hope those in attendance were listening, not so much for the notability of the speaker himself, but for what Pelton was saying:
"These myths have crept into the public discussion about FAA funding, and they have gained undeserved credibility. I am a businessman, not a policymaker, and FAA officials often speak of the need to run the FAA more like a business. So, I propose we address some basic business questions before we implement more policies or procedures that could potentially add cost or make the system more burdensome than it already is. The questions we need answered are: Where does our aviation system stand today? Where is the market headed? What are the requirements we will have to meet?Wow. Can our current Federal government handle so much logical thinking? Pelton is right on with this…how can GA trust the FAA with a blank user fees check, in light of the debacle du jour that comes out of D.C. each and every news cycle?
Pelton stated the five myths about Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization:
• Myth one: The mechanisms for funding the FAA are not working;
• Myth two: A funding overhaul is needed to pay for modernization, and to cover revenue shortfalls from the declining commercial ticket tax;
• Myth three: General aviation does not pay its share for its use of the National Air Transportation System;
• Myth four: User fees will provide stable and predictable funding for the FAA; and
• Myth five: Very Light Jets coming to market will place a new burden on the air transportation system.
He correctly offered information about how GA represents about 3 percent of all operations at our nation's 20 busiest airports, noting that the air transportation system was built to accommodate peak airline traffic at airline hubs. Pelton pointed to Reagan National Airport as a glaring example, saying that even though DCA was closed to GA traffic for four years, the costs of operating the airport did not decrease.
He closed by saying that the argument that the new crop of VLJs will overwhelm the nation's ATC system is completely unrealistic. "Even if the most optimistic predictions about VLJs turn out to be true,” Pelton said, “we will not see large numbers entering the system over the next five years.”
And he should know.
So will the powers-to-be listen to a successful GA CEO with a proven track record that is offering to throw some solid business sense into the FAA funding debate? My guess is no, but then again, Pelton doesn’t work for Halliburton, so he doesn’t matter to the dynasty running our country.