AOG. Dreaded triad of the alphabet for pilots. Airplane On Ground. Almost always due to a maintenance issue. Last night was our second night spent in Albuquerque. People I spoke to about being stuck at ABQ all said, “Oh, I love Albuquerque.” Well, I might love it if I were here voluntarily. Maybe I’ll come back so I can appreciate it more. Last night we moved to a hotel in the bustling down town and walked to a decent dinner. That was better than being at the airport Wyndham and trying to choke down enough of their microwaved entree to not starve.
There are two ways you should keep an eye on us:
We are at the home of the Eclipse jet, which is a revolutionary very light jet (the first of them). I read a book about their endeavor and read every article as it came out. The delivery of their first plane to a customer made all the aviation news feeds a while back. When we landed here we taxied in and parked right between two of them (they are not a lot larger than the Diamondstar, in fact the wingspan is a little shorter). They have forty planes in the sky now and five more on the production line. it’s very exciting because it really does have the potential to change aviation.
It’s a little like the iPod. Hard to see what two thousand of these planes in the sky will mean. Eventually I think the idea of an air-taxi service might happen, where people will no longer go to the nearest huge airport, but will instead go to a nearby small airport and grab one of these little jets to fly to a spot nearer their destination.
I know better than to be jealous of the more complex craft though. Having a new jet wouldn’t mean we weren’t grounded here. Yesterday I saw a group gathered by one of the little jets on the ramp saying, “I know we’re not allowed to fly if it’s been on hundred cycles, but the computer on board says seventy-seven cycles. I know the book has it logged as a hundred, but I think we should be allowed to go by the computer.” Later that evening the plane was still sitting there.
I also know of a pilot who worked his way up, single engine, multi-engine, IFR, turbine time, type rating (planes heavier than 12,500lbs), and into a Cessna Citation CJ. He did the mentoring piloting and paid painfully high insurance rates, but now he could fly a jet. He even decided to fly from the United States to Italy. The CJ is a little jet, so he’d need to stop in Iceland to refuel. While on the ground there the technician plugged in the ground power before making sure the power in the plane was off and blew out the FADEC (computer unit that controls the engines). AOG. And a commercial flight from Iceland to Italy. Probably with a stop in Luxembourg, if I remember my college travelling…