Saturday, January 05, 2008

Happy New Year! I hope 2008 is spectacular for all the right reasons.

Well my ear has healed to the point that I can fly so that's cool. One note I wanted to bring you up to speed on. Got some others too;

Aviatrix over at Cockpit Conversation blog has gone from a public blog to an authors-only blog for the time being. This may change again in a short while, but for now, from now on Cockpit Conversation won't be public. It's nothing personal, she has to do it for professional reasons and that makes total sense to me. You aren't missing any posts, so don't worry that you are falling behind; She hopes to be blogging again soon and I'll certainly update with details as they become available to me.

I wonder what joys and tribulations the next year will bring us? I'm guessing more trouble in the middle east, skyrocketing fuel prices, more ominous weather patterns, more abuses of authority, more cat-hoardings, more carjackings live on tv and more gross obesity.

I just read that we can expect to pay $1.50/l for gasoline this summer (around here, gas has been about a buck a litre ($3.75/gallon); man am I glad I drive a Civic hybrid - even at those prices $75 will get me 900km easily and 1,000 if I drive obnoxiously fuel-efficiently.

Not so much can be done about the jet though.

We burn 160 gallons of gas per hour on average. When I started in mid 2005, our direct fuel burn cost would be around $390/hour. Reading our last weeks fuel provider invoice, our fuel burn cost was closer to $730/hour. So for each hour of operation, we paid $340/hour more just in gas, and nearly twice as much on fuel as we did only 2 1/2 years ago. Our new fuel provider currently offers a fuel burn cost of roughly $510/hour, still $120 more than 2 1/2 years ago, but a little easier to absorb. For now.

I don't know at what point it won't be economically viable to operate a small business jet. At $10/gallon, a figure that is entirely possible to see in places like New York or Boston in the event of a fuel shortage, we would pay $1,600/hour in fuel cost alone. Set aside engines, parts and maintenance and you are looking at $2,600/hour in operating costs. Oh, if you happen to be running it as a charter you might want to make a profit in the order of $1,000/hour. Even if you whittle away at that, there isn't much leeway before the owner decides that chartering the plane at near-cost isn't worth it and pulls the plug on charters. Anyway, you can see that fuel prices have a direct impact on our charter rates, and I worry about how many customers are willing to pay the increasingly insane amounts of money for fuel that it takes to get from point A to B in style and convenience.

Now my real point; I'm 36. I still have 29 years to go before retirement. Is my job going to last that long? Is the corporate pilot job model obsolete? If it is, what should I be doing? Buying a plot of land somewhere and taking survival courses in the event of global armageddon? Do I need to learn how to shoot my own burgers? Mmm, burgers. Any thoughts?

14 comments:

Ian said...

Regardless of impending doom in the form of rising fuel prices, it's always good to have a contingency plan.

Or you could always just go back to flying medevacs. Spare no expense for the skedevac!

Anonymous said...

don't worry about it. fuel will get more expensive, but people also keep getting richer. plus flying on regular airlines is increasingly unbearable. so i reckon that more and more people will want to fly on your cool jet, in spite of rising costs.

david said...

In the future, you might end up going back to flying propeller planes.

For example, flying from Toronto to NYC, a King Air or Pilatus PC-12 will burn around 65 gph instead of 160 gph, and it will be hard to notice any difference in ramp-to-ramp time when you consider how much of the trip is spent taxiing, waiting for takeoff, and vectoring at slow speed/low altitude around Toronto and NYC.

For an even more fuel-efficient trip, you could strap two or three execs into a light twin or high-performance single air taxi. The trip might take 15-20 minutes longer ramp to ramp (and they won't have a potty or little writing desks), but you'll be burning 10-15% of the fuel you would have in the jet, and non-fuel operating costs will be tiny.

Jets will still make sense for many cross-continent flights, of course, though fast turboprops like the PC-12 are still a competitive option there.

Blake said...

I'm going to stay optimistic and hope that the new norm in buisness flying will be things like the HondaJet.

You'll still have a job, but flying way more modern and fuel efficient aircraft.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the update on Aviatrix. I have read her blog entries almost from the start and would really miss them. Thanks also for keeping us quiet readers in the loop.

Anonymous said...

I second Anonymous' comment above. It was a joy to read, and it is through her blog that I found your blog. Thank you for blogging.

amulbunny said...

Thanks for the news on Trixie. Um if you want to shot your burgers, you need to raise your burgers, try yaks, more protein, less fat same flavor. And they like winter more than beef.

We're all at the mercy of people who hop into 747's for a shopping trip to Rodeo Drive.

If I could pony up the funds to fly a small charter rather than participate in the shoe carnival and kippie bag farce I'd do it in a heartbeat.

Glad you're feeling better.
amulbunny

Sue said...

Thank you so much for the update on Aviatrix. I had tried the site today and was blocked, much to my dismay. I hope you can convey to her that her fans are legion and will miss her terribly.

Firdaus said...

Thanks for the news on Aviatrix. Like many others I was quite surprised when I couldn't get through. Hope us quiet readers will have access to it again in the futre. Like many of the others, have always enjoyed reading her posts.

GA with L plates said...

My top 3 "from a pilots perspective" blogs that I regularly read are yours (of course:)), Aviatrix and FL250. Do I "hang out" for Aviatrix to open her blog up, or do I need to to "promote" one of my occasional reads to my top 3 must reads?

I know, strange to ask about another's blog this way, but I would love for life to have one less of those "little mysteries" :)

I sure hope that she has suffered no serious grief 'cause of her blog.

Anonymous said...

Well, if the auto industry figures out how to make hydrogen vehicles, the price of gas may come down drastically at some point. Additionally, if someone can figure out how to build a jet engine that doesn't run on Kerosene, your prospects will improve. No one can tell the future, but I'm willing to bet that technology will change the game here just like it did when we went from steam engine locomotives to diesel and then to electric and magnetic.

zb said...

OMG! Dude! Like, awesome!! Dooood! Un-be-flippin'-lievable! She's Back

Anonymous said...

I get what you're saying about the fuel prices, but spare a thought for us down-trodden motorists in the UK. £1.05 per litre! That works out at about $9.30 per imperial gallon. America sneezes and we catch a cold.
So glad I've got a bike.
Pleased your illness is over, really enjoy your blog.

M said...

Good new year from Finland.

I could not hesitate to comment those gasoline prices! Here the price is arount 1.5e/l (5.69 usd/gal). So you don't have anything to complain =)

Even at somewhat low consumption Peugeot 307 I can drive around 400km with 75 dollars!