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?