Monday, January 16, 2006

LOOK TO THE SKIES

As of late my infomania has directed its attention to the airline/aerospace industry. Those who know me know that I have always been fascinated by airplanes since an early age and, in fact, had dreams of being an aerospace engineer that were only thwarted by reality and my apparent lack of spatial reasoning ability. In particular, the blog enplaned is a fascinating read on the airplane/airline business. Some salient points that interest me at the moment:

  • The upcoming Boeing 787 Dreamliner, by virtue of its all composite (read: plastic) construction will have a game changing customer experience. Think: panoramic windows (possible due to the higher strength of the fuselage) space-age design flourishes and –most importantly- a higher atmospheric pressure cabin (again, due to the higher strength of the composite fuselage) that will translate into higher cabin humidity levels and the attendant greater comfort and lower incidence of getting sick from the ride. Also, the plane’s efficiency should allow for lower ticket prices overall. I, for one, can’t wait.
  • Contrary to those who look at the mess that is the domestic airline industry and point the finger of blame all the way back to the Carter administration’s deregulation -deregulation has been a good thing. As enplaned points out, the point of the whole exercise was to rescue the consumer. Who can argue that airplane travel has increased exponentially in the past quarter-century or so while inflation-adjusted prices have only gotten lower and lower? The relative health of the European market carriers only points to the looming shakeout they will experience as they deregulate –which is happening in fits and starts- and not the superiority of their business model.
  • The Eclipse 500 VLJ (Very Light Jet) marches on towards getting its expected type certification this year. This plane is another game changer that, when certified, will be mass produced by the thousands. At a measly 1.5 mil a pop for a twinjet that seats 4 and flies from the tiny municipal airports that dot the landscape around this great country of ours, the dream of being able to charter an air taxi for a point to point trip to anywhere for about the price of a business-class seat is about to become a reality. Goto Dayjet or Pogo for reservations… Prediction: if this market takes off, expect Honda to jump in with its own mass-produced VLJ. For now, the market belongs to the aforementioned Eclipse and the Adam 700. Potential fly-in-the-ointment: the FAA’s creaking air-traffic control system may hobble the concept.

As you can tell, I’m juiced about the aerospace business. I firmly believe that aviation and aerospace –with the recent democratization of space access- will be a big growth area in the not too distant future. Credit goes to Rich Karlgaard and an article about Eclipse a few years ago (that I can't find anymore) for my resurgent interest in the field.

DULY NOTED: I've switched my blog posting toolkit to the (free) Blogger for Word add-in. Try it!

1 comment:

Brandi said...

I am really excited about the VLJs. The closest airport with commercial flights is about an hour away from me. Add that to the 2 hours you are supposed to be early and it makes for a dreadful start of a long day. The thought of being able to jot down to my municipal airport, hop on an SUV with wings and go to where I need to be is VERY appealing.