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Category Archives: Policy

For policy related material.

FAA Flight Training Requirement

A six-fold increase in the number of training hours required before a pilot can fly a commercial airplane. Seemingly triggered by the Asiana Fligh 214 crash.

The Driverless Carriage

Great article in the Wall Street Journal on the ongoing development of self-driving cars. A couple points:

  1. The firsthand account from a reporter in 1897 of his first drive in a horseless carriage is priceless.
  2. Google is merely tinkering with self-driving cars… Ford, Volvo, Audi, Mercedes are already implementing this in Europe
  3. The US government needs to, at the very least, get out of the way of the automakers on this one. Ideally they’d be looking at ways to be steering our infrastructure spending toward the impending revolution of self-driving cars.

Make no mistake, self-driving cars are the way of the future. People aren’t going to give up the autonomy afforded to them by automobiles in favor of trains, planes, bikes, etc. Those modes of transportation serve their purposes, but day-in-day-out family life requires an automobile. Self-driving cars will reduce accidents, increase transportation network efficiency, increase fuel efficiency, and redeem millions of hours of lost commute time. It’s the natural next step for our transportation infrasatructure. Think about the movies “Minority Report” or “I, Robot” for a glimpse of the way automobiles will serve us in the future.

A final thought. I don’t trust Google on this one. They want to be at the front of the self-driving car market in America for ulterior motives. They aren’t trying to make the transportation infrastructure more efficient, they are trying to collect more data on your lifestyle habits so they can sell more advertising.

DHS Preclearance in Abu Dhabi

So the big todo lately, at least as it relates to my home country and my current city of residence, is the Department of Homeland Security’s new preclearance facility in Abu Dhabi. Full disclosure, I’ve got coworkers that are working on the upgrade projects to make this happen, so I’m a bit biased in my opinion on this one.

The article says that DHS is considering and planning this facility but the airport is already renovating their terminal to faiclitate this. The crux of the argument against it seems to be an unfair advantage for Etihad over the US air carriers. My opinion, let the American carriers start serving Abu Dhabi before they whine and complain.

EPA Sulfur Cutting

The EPA wants to restrict the sulfur content of gasoline by two-thirds. According to refiners this cut, from 30 to 10 parts per million, will cost $10 billion in capital improvements… a cost that will be passed down to the consumer possibly raising the cost of gasoline by 6-8 cents.

The sulfur content cut will increase the effectiveness of catalytic converters on cars.

What bothers me about this change is that it has been tabled for 15 months in order to avoid the presidential campaign and election. If they feared that the regulation couldn’t survive the scrutiny of an election then perhaps it’s not worth the economic toll it may impose. I wish there was some concrete way to means-test all the regulations that come from the EPA.

CAHSR Links…

A slew of older links that have been sitting in my queue on the California High Speed Rail initiative:


I’m extremely pro-train. I’m a hopeless railfan. However, California is going about this all wrong. I’d love to see a successful commuter rail line between LA and San Francisco, but I doubt we’ll see that outcome under this current plan.

ASCE Infrastructure Report Card

ASCE has just released their every-4-year Infrastructure Report Card.
Bottom line :

  • America’s Infrastructure GPA: D+
  • Estimate for Investment needed by 2020: $3.6 Trillion



The New York Times gives their synopsis.
National Review’s Reihan Salam gives his quick thoughts.

I’m downloading the iPad version now.

More FAA Politicking

What a surprise

FAA Grounds Small Business

The FAA has grounded a small aerial photography business in Minnesota. I guess the budget cuts haven’t hampered the FAA too much if they have time to pick on little guys like these guys.

These guys have rigged up their small, RC aircraft with stabilized cameras and decided to make a business of it. They rarely fly over 200 feet high and don’t fly near airports. The only thing that distinguishes their RC aircraft from those of a hobbyist is that they are taking pictures for pay… which makes them commercial… which makes the FAA entitled to ground them.

Utter stupidity.

Continuing Resolutions…

How much longer is the house going to have to keep passing Continuing Resolutions? These resolutions are providing reduced levels of funding for infrastructure projects in the absence of a budget. It’s a shame really. Someone needs to get off their butts and provide the house with a real-deal budget. More politics trumping solutions…

Air Tower Closures

So the FAA is pushing forward with tower closures and it looks like Lubbock, Texas may be losing it’s night shift.. The reporter for this story, Adam Young, did some follow-up with UPS and Southwest Airlines about their use of the local airport. Both operators don’t seem overly concerned about the lack of a night shift controller.

What if these tower closings and reduced hours end up having no real affect on operations? Budget cuts well executed I’d say then… wouldn’t you? I’d also like to know where we could save even more money.