I don’t want to sound too much like a pessimist, but, well, I’m pessimistic!
I think if anything, the last few weeks have shown that GA (part 91 operators) are pretty much at the bottom of the totem pole as far as aviation groups go.
There are still, even two weeks after the tragedy, lots of folks grounded. Most VFR pilots near major metropolitan areas (i.e. enhanced class B), all GA pilots near DC & NYC, etc.
The airlines were the first to be back in the air and the only group, along with charter operators, who are not restricted in some manner (except for DCA closed). Charters were next, and part 91 ops are still not restored.
My hope is that eventually, things will get back to “normal” (except for the many folks who lose their jobs and FBOs/flight schools forced to close down) within a short time.
But my fear is that if there are ever any other aviation related terrorist acts (or even suspected terrorist acts – I believe a lot of extra security went into effect even after TWA800), GA will again take the brunt of the regulatory action, whether it was a GA aircraft involved, or an airline, or a charter, etc.
I don’t even want to think about what would happen to us if there is a terrorist act in a part 91 aircraft any time soon.
So – besides the very obvious reason of hoping for no further terrorist attacks, I’m especially hoping, if there is one, that it doesn’t come from the air…
Just my random thoughts…
(who just got checked out in a rental 172 this morning because my SR20 is still grounded due to this mess, with no word on when it’ll be able to be flown again…)
Looking beyond the next couple of months…
The world that emerges after cataclysmic events is always different. Just ask the dinosaurs. In the aftermath of Sept. 11, despite the slow return of access to the National Airspace, I am myself actually inclined to be optimistic about GA’s medium-long term prospects.
No-radio, no-transponder flying in class E airspace–maybe class G too–is probably a thing of the past. I won’t miss it.
The increased security hassle, inconvenience, and expense of big-plane airline travel will predispose more folks to consider the small-is-beautiful aternative that GA offers and Jim described in Free Flight. Note the recently announced order for 1000 Eclipse jets by Nimbus Group, who are apparently willing to bet nearly a billion $ on this possibility.
Smaller planes are much less dangerous weapons in any scenario similar to that of Sept. 11. Even charter & bizjets could be equipped with panic-land -automatically-at-the-nearest-airport buttons.
Longer term, if real or perceived threats of terrorist operations continue to be a concern, the trend towards living in less densely populated areas will accelerate. It’s much easier to serve the transportation needs of such a society with smaller planes than with jumbo jets.
What do you folks think? I hope I’m right, just before Sept. 11 I committed significant $$ towards a new 260SE!