In a recent communication addressed to US Department of Transportation (DOT) Secretary Ray LaHood, the Association of Corporate Travel Executives (ACTE) president, Richard Crum, stated that the time is now to address the source of major issues that continually surface in the nation’s history of air transport, as opposed to dealing with them as separate and unrelated symptoms. The letter was prompted by an announcement that the Secretary is planning to convene a Federal Advisory Committee on the Future of Aviation. According to a statement issued today by Crum, it is impossible to speak about the future of US aviation (especially in terms of service, safety, and growth), without also addressing security, taxation, and infrastructure issues — and how they would be funded.
“The history of aviation and transportation legislation in the United States is an ongoing endeavor that addresses the symptoms of lingering problems, while the major issues carry over from year to year,” said Crum. “As a result, only specific aspects of the overall transportation issue are considered, and many of these are subject to ‘eleventh hour’ action.”
In the letter to the DOT Secretary, Crum emphasized that one of the first tasks facing an advisory committee of this scope would be to identify and evaluate some of the issues at hand. For example, Crum states the replacement of an aging air traffic control system with a more highly automated and efficient one (as defined in the Next Generation Air Transportation System) will go far to help airlines burn less fuel, cut delays, and increase profitability — all essential elements of a sustainable air transport system. Yet improvements on this scale are not slated for another 15 years and must ultimately be funded through user taxes.
“The overall benefit to the national economy derived from domestic and international travel is going to mandate rethinking some preconceived notions of project funding. Looking beyond the mechanics of air travel, we are still left with conducting a thorough evaluation of airport security procedures and related policies, plus defining a more clearly-defined role for the Federal Aviation Administration as well,” said Crum. “These should all be part of one comprehensive national aviation policy.”
As ACTE’s president, Crum was fully in support of the DOT Secretary’s plan to form a Federal Advisory Committee on the Future of Aviation and placed ACTE’s research resources and membership expertise at his disposal. The text of Richard Crum’s letter to Secretary LaHood can be viewed on the ACTE website: http://www.acte.org/content/TransportationLetter .