NBAA Media Alert
Just as I have been doing with AOPA, I am passing along a verbatim Media Alert today from NBAA. This is spot on:
NBAA Alerts Media to Airline
Spin on GA and Delays
In response to air traffic system delays on the East Coast last Friday, a number of news organizations recently asked the big airlines for comment about the causes of flight delays and congestion. Predictably, the airlines have tried to avoid responsibility and pin the blame for their delays on others; the chief Washington lobbyist for the Air Transport Association (ATA), inferred that general aviation is a significant cause of delays.
However, in spite of the airlines' spin, nothing could be further from the truth, as demonstrated by the following indisputable facts.
1. Department of Transportation (DOT) data show that almost all delays are caused by weather and the commercial airlines themselves. In fact, according to the "Dallas Morning News," the DOT recently launched an investigation into "deceptive scheduling practices" by the airlines, focusing in particular on carriers that operated "chronically delayed flights without telling customers of the repeated problems." [Sources: Air Travel Consumer Report: May 2007, Tables 9 & 10, U.S. Department of Transportation, Office of Aviation Enforcement and Proceedings, Aviation Consumer Protection Division; "Dallas Morning News," 4/20/07.]
2. General aviation aircraft rarely use the same airports as the commercial airlines: FAA traffic data for 2006 reveals that, at the nation's 10-busiest airports, general aviation accounts for less than 4% of all aircraft operations. [Source: FAA: OPSNET data for all towered airport operations in 2006.] Furthermore, general aviation aircraft operators prefer to fly above and below the altitudes used by the airlines; the operators also commonly have the ability to change schedules and flight routes, all helping to reduce aviation system congestion.
3. The number of turbine business aircraft (jets and turboprops) in the U.S., which the airlines blame for system congestion, is deceptive because the figure overlooks the fact that turbine business aircraft average only about 370 flight hours per year – less than 10 percent of the flight hours averaged by an airliner's aircraft. The hours flown by business aircraft have remained essentially constant for several years, while airport hub operations have increased. [Sources: FAA General Aviation and Air Taxi Activity Surveys, 1999-2005; FAA Total General Aviation and Scheduled Aircraft Movements, 1997-2005].
4. Even air traffic controllers don't accept ATA's spin; National Air Traffic Controllers Association President Patrick Forrey recently stated: "Severe weather accounts for over 70 percent of delays, which are exacerbated by the hub-and-spoke operation, and the rest is either airline staffing woes, air traffic controller staffing shortages or the airlines' own operations."
At the heart of the airlines' predictable finger-pointing is their long-running attempt to use a Congressional funding process for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to shift billions of their costs onto general aviation, introduce new aviation "user fees" and assume control of the air traffic control system.
In short, the airlines hope to convince Congress that general aviation is a major driver of air traffic control costs and air system congestion to win on their agenda to lower their costs for operating in the nation's aviation system, while increasing their control over it.
Like other general aviation organizations, the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) supports modernization of the nation’s aviation system, so that capacity can be expanded where needs exist. But NBAA believes that the deceptions and finger-pointing by the airlines are drowning out meaningful discussion about how best to strengthen the system for all users, so that Americans will continue to have the world’s largest, safest and most efficient.
NBAA asks that reporters who have been told by the ATA that general aviation (which the ATA also refers to as "private planes" and "corporate jets") is a major contributor to delays contact the Association for a response with supporting documentation.