My fellow aviation aficionados: As we approach the dropping of the ball that signifies the end of the year 2011, we can reflect back, and quite comfortably make the statement, “That was a very good year.” While there was a lot of chaos in the cabins of commercial airliners, the other side of this coin is as follows: no commercial airliners operated by U.S. air carriers splattered into the terrain in uncontrolled flight during 2011. To complement that very positive statistic it should be pointed out that the world of general aviation experienced a reduced accident rate. Unfortunately, the quality of life experienced by most airline passengers while stuffed in their little flying cocoon continued to deteriorate. Reported instances of conflagrations in the cabin have skyrocketed. “Road rage” is being replaced by “cabin craziness.” Please see my previous blog of December 26, titled Be Nice to the Flight Attendant. It provides a tutorial on the nuances of achieving a seemingly impossibility. That would, of course, be a relaxed, stress-free flight. It is difficult to remain stress-free when the airline just snatched a large sum of money from you for baggage fees, and shortly thereafter, you are exposed to the most overbearing and intrusive security procedures in the world.
But rejoice, for the TSA people are demonstrating a learning curve, and perhaps in another 10 years some semblance of common sense will have evolved. Nonetheless, commercial air travel will likely be more draconian as the airlines reduce their schedules which will result in airplanes overbooked and stuffed full of people. Furthermore, there is a likelihood of more aviation anomalies such as the flight attendant, Mr. Slater, of Jet Blue fame, who said, “enough is enough” as he exited the aircraft via the escape slide with a couple of cold beers in hand. Scenarios of this nature will probably occur more often during the boarding phase as the stuffing of bags into the overhead and underneath the seat becomes an insurmountable problem, and the cabin attendant will, at the very last minute, say “no mas” and call in sick.
Air travel in the year 2012 will possibly go down in the annals of aviation as “the good old days.” The reason for that prognostication is that the price of oil will only increase and of course the place of the airfare will also increase. My suggestion is to book early and avoid the fare increases, for they are coming. By next holiday season you can rest assured that airfares will be increased by at least 25%. The rest of the story is as follows: the end of fossil fuel is near! The pipedream of biofuel as an alternate is just that, a pipedream. A solar powered aircraft are viable for aircraft that will carry only a few passengers. Hydrogen power continues to be discussed but the likelihood of it being used extensively by aircraft is not likely. Without elaborating on all of the details of alternative energy for aircraft, I will only suggest that air travel in the future (and that’s the relatively near future) will become far more expensive and far less available. For further elucidation of the subject please read Jeremy Rifkin’s book, The Third Industrial Revolution.
Despite this foreboding prognostication, Ace Abbott, author of The Rogue Aviator would like to wish everyone out there in the aviation-cyber space world a wonderful 2012. May you be blessed with tail winds, clear blue skies and silky-smooth, “grease-job” landings.
This blog is prepared by Ace Abbott, author of The Rogue Aviator (www.therogueaviator.com)