Readers routinely react to editorials published in Aviation Week & Space Technology, but few opinion pieces have elicited as strong a response as “Obama’s Bizarre Attacks on Biz Av (AW&ST, July 11, 2011, p. 58). The editorial called the Obama administration out for berating business aviation generally and proposed changes to depreciation schedules and flight tracking—all of which have the potential to further undermine the sector; it is still struggling to recover from a devastating wave of order cancellations two years ago.
Most of the readers who responded voiced support for the position AW&ST took. “Gutsiest move I ever saw,” one subscriber stated in a letter to the editor. But two others who took the time to share their displeasure said they were offended by the editorial. One of them went so far as to request that his subscription be canceled, claiming the editorial was evidence that AW&ST was in bed with industry—which brings me to the real point of this blog.
For me, the accusation was an instant call to action. More specifically, it was an opportunity to remind readers of the role that Aviation Week & Space Technology strives to play. AW&ST is no cheerleader for any segment of the aviation/aerospace/defense industry. Our reputation was built on being objective and impartial, and we have been sharply critical of the industry in print and on our web sites whenever we have thought such criticism, or skepticism, was justified.
Aviation Week’s mission is to bring insight and clarity to issues and developments that are important to the industry professionals we serve worldwide. At the same time, when the industry is maligned, judged unfairly or taken for granted—as has been the case with business aviation—we are going to call it like we see it. Just as we will continue to do when we feel constructive criticism is called for, whether it is in program management, balancing short-term and long-term goals, or sustaining a culture of innovation.
As the Obama administration’s characterization of business aviation is concerned, the president’s remarks blistered a vast segment of American aviation, a segment that is the envy of the world, and all who benefit from it, for what many suspect is personal gain. For a country’s leader who says he is concerned about jobs, manufacturing, and the challenge of world competition, these attacks on business/general aviation—direct or indirect—are highly counterproductive.