Deciding Aviation Into an Uncertain Future

By Scott Spangler on January 4th, 2017

Happy New Year!

As it has been for millennia, the year ahead is a blank diary in which we will write history with our daily decisions. What direction this uncertain future will take depends on how we make those decisions, especially those with zero-sum consequences, where one side gains at the expense of another. Ultimately, the decisions we make, support, and share will determine the future of aviation and the world in which is it exists.

Making decisions based on our gut, decisions that serve only our personal interests and ideology, rather than a logical assessment of the “facts” involved in the issue will have critical consequences. This is especially true for aviation, which is struggling to find its footing in the 21 century. Based on past ideas, such as the attempt to privatize air traffic control, 2017 will surely be a defining waypoint in aviation history.

To different degrees, everyone involved in civil, commercial, and military aviation communities make decisions that will shape their individual and collective futures. From the cockpit to the control tower, those answers decide the winner, short-term benefits to a few or long-term benefits to the industry as a whole.

As it does at an operational level, making informed decisions will span the gap of uncertainty, but making them requires research and effort, as well as an understanding that information and knowledge are not the same thing. Information is data. Knowledge is the accumulation of information and how it all relates to the question at hand. Only then can we acquire the wisdom needed to make a decision.

In this effort we must be pragmatic, concerned with actual practice, not theory, conspiracy, or speculation. And we must be skeptical, which is to say we must not be easily persuaded or convinced. We must doubt every source of information and ask questions when data from different sources does not add up. Regardless the source, question its authority.

Finally, we must be cynical. In any zero-sum situation, where someone gains because the opposing side loses, the cynic knows that the people involved are motivated only by their selfishness. Naturally, in the post-truth world, this reality is buried in echo-chamber propaganda.

For example, if ATC goes private, and is funded with user fees, who will ultimately pay those fees? And what happens to the airline ticket and GA fuel tax system that’s been funding America’s aviation infrastructure for decades?

Be aware of each decision made in 2017, because it will tacitly reveal our true motivations and hopes for tomorrow. –  Scott Spangler, Editor


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