Episode #110 "Dave's New Modem"

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rlingg
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Re: Episode #110 "Dave's New Modem"

Postby rlingg » Thu Dec 11, 2008 11:37 pm

advector wrote:It bugs me that the automobile company CEOs' aircraft were called "private jets." They are public jets. They belong to the stockholders, and they are very good investments.


I don't know. They'll be public jets if the government takes an ownership interest in the automobile industry. For now they're private jets - owned by 400,000 stockholders, but still privately owned.

advector wrote:The stockholders are happy to own them and to make them available to the CEOs. The aircraft pay for themselves in spades.


Again, I think it kind of depends on your point of view. My old employer had a private jet, but that company was bought by a British company which didn't have a private jet. The Brits told the Yanks to get rid of the jet. But it took the Yanks the longest time to find an appropriate buyer. In the meantime, the Yank execs kept flying around in the jet. It's really hard to go back to the airlines after you've had a luxury ride at 40,000 feet. My current employer is much bigger, and all the execs fly commercial.

It kind of makes shareholders unhappy when the boss has a $20 million toy that costs about $10 million per year to feed. Jets make execs more efficient - that's for sure. But I think they have a hard time showing they're $30 million more efficient than flying first class in a HMT. Especially in big, deep and long-last economic downturns.

What burns me about the auto execs is that they're flying to Washington to ask for a bail out with OUR MONEY. It's not about the perks of being a big wig; it's about claiming you're almost broke, asking the US taxpayers for a handout and using a very expensive and not particularly necessary asset that makes you look and feel very friggin' cool to show up for the party. The whole think stinks and really makes me wonder whether they're really that bad off.

So the auto execs really should sell the jets and use the cash to fund the payroll for some assembly line workers who are about to be laid off. Then come up with a realistic game plan of how they'll be competitive in the future, reduce the pay of their top 50 people to $100,000 per year with no options, golden parachutes and other hidden payoffs, and maybe we'll talk bailout.

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jackhodgson
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Re: Episode #110 "Dave's New Modem"

Postby jackhodgson » Fri Dec 12, 2008 6:19 am

The simple fact to keep in mind here is that studies have shown that, in real terms, having these high-level corporate leaders flying private aircraft is actually CHEAPER than flying the airlines. When you factor in the value of their time, scheduling needs, confidentiality, and other factors. It's a much more complex equation than simply comparing the raw operating costs of the biz jet to the price of an airline ticket.

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lucaberta
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Re: Episode #110 "Dave's New Modem"

Postby lucaberta » Fri Dec 12, 2008 9:06 am

rlingg wrote:I don't know. They'll be public jets if the government takes an ownership interest in the automobile industry. For now they're private jets - owned by 400,000 stockholders, but still privately owned.

I'd simply call them "private jets operated by a public company". I doubt that a shareholder could hitch a ride on one of those jets just by showing the stock he or she owns in that company... :D

It kind of makes shareholders unhappy when the boss has a $20 million toy that costs about $10 million per year to feed. Jets make execs more efficient - that's for sure. But I think they have a hard time showing they're $30 million more efficient than flying first class in a HMT. Especially in big, deep and long-last economic downturns.

there is something which is even more efficient, today. Thanks to the power of the Internet, the very same Internet that enables this community to exist. Take a look at the following video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=58bW3bVL7GA

Love this video, for many reasons. For one, it is shot in a very pretty little town north of Rome, in an area full of very nice grass strips, one of which has an amazing restaurant with argentinian meat on the grill! Used to go in the area quite a bit when I was living and flying out of Rome.

Second, I wanted to expose you to some spoken italian, but the guy has also a great spoken english. Like me. ;)

And the last reason, shameless plug, is because this commercial comes from the company that I've been working for over the past 10 years... :)

We're also starting to pitch the use of this technology on the broad commercial market, for instance to help families get in touch from far away, in a way much similar to the beginning of "2001, a Space Odissey", remember? Take a look here:

http://newsroom.cisco.com/dlls/videos/o ... 11408.html

Prices are still quite high, and the reliability of the Internet is still flakey at times (huh Dave?), but we'll get there, no doubts!

BTW, Cisco has started a TV commercial campaign over the summer, mocking quite harshly the airlines and the usual delays and wasted time... you see a bunch of execs repeating the safety briefing from their desks, and then the ad ends with a deserted baggage carousel with just one bag on the belt... :D Could not find it online, but I am sure some of you must have seen it on the TV!

I also found a very detailed research made by an external company pushing the "telepresence" concept; they bash quite hard on the airlines down here, making a strong case for quasi-real-life communications, enabling huge cost savings:

http://www.telepresenceoptions.com/2008 ... rcial_avi/

Sorry for the shameless plug, but I thought this could be relevant for the topics being discussed. Less HMTs flying might also boost the "green" wave which is something quite high on people's mind. Curious to see how President-elect Obama will tackle all of these topics.

Ciao, Luca
Luca Bertagnolio, CPL/ASEL/AMEL/ASES/IR

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Re: Episode #110 "Dave's New Modem"

Postby champguy » Fri Dec 12, 2008 12:45 pm

Luca
It is refreshing to hear more from you.
It is nice to think that somewhere north of Rome there is a village where a pretty young women appears to be happy.
We all got ourselves into this mess, we are all going to have to find ways to adjust and be happy with what we have created... or not.
How is that teleconferenceing technology different from Skipe?
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lucaberta
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Re: Episode #110 "Dave's New Modem"

Postby lucaberta » Fri Dec 12, 2008 1:08 pm

champguy wrote:Luca
It is refreshing to hear more from you.

thanks, appreciate your comment!

It is nice to think that somewhere north of Rome there is a village where a pretty young women appears to be happy.

hey! We have the same caveats on TV commercials here in Italy, worry not! Everyone must be happy and smiling, and there is always the sun shining... but people bitch a lot here too! :D

How is that teleconferenceing technology different from Skipe?

totally different. You don't need a PC to do a TelePresence session, you need some dedicated hardware that includes HD video screens, multiple cameras and microphones, and an IP telephone as the primary interface. A PC is not needed to do the session, but clearly you must use one to book the facility and arrange the two (or more) endpoints of the session.

This other 30" commercial gives you an idea on how a big 3-screen setup looks like:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TvrOhQiTWLE

Of course you could have big screens connected, too, and the effect will look like this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u5Jn6fTPXYk

These are things that will have a huge impact on the future of personal relationships, in my opinion. We are just touching the tip of the iceberg with forums, podcasts and the like, and so much more will come.

By the way, I liked the AirplaneGeeks podcast with the "new media" bash with our own JH, lots of good food for thought... one thing is for sure, new generations will be using these kind of things a lot more than we think, so we better focus on them if we want to see new breed of pilots taking the air...

Ciao, Luca
Luca Bertagnolio, CPL/ASEL/AMEL/ASES/IR

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StevenPam
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Re: Episode #110 "Dave's New Modem"

Postby StevenPam » Fri Dec 12, 2008 5:02 pm

Wow. Those ads are nice.

I wonder what sort of bitrate you'd be looking at to get reasonable picture and sound quality? Somehow I can't imagine Dave being able to do this :-)
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DJTorrente
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Re: Episode #110 "Dave's New Modem"

Postby DJTorrente » Fri Dec 12, 2008 6:59 pm

jackhodgson wrote:The simple fact to keep in mind here is that studies have shown that, in real terms, having these high-level corporate leaders flying private aircraft is actually CHEAPER than flying the airlines. When you factor in the value of their time, scheduling needs, confidentiality, and other factors. It's a much more complex equation than simply comparing the raw operating costs of the biz jet to the price of an airline ticket.


Jack,

Tounge-in-cheeck, your assumption requires a ratehr generous assessment of the executive's time. Given recent performance, how tough would it be to replace the managemetn team with another lowly paid set of goobers that would similarly run the company into the ground?

More realistically, I don't begrudge anyone their G-V. I can agree with the argument that they are great business tools... if you can afford them. Suppose I didn't have two nickels to rub together, and someone paid me to dig them a ditch. The most efficient way to get the job done is to go out and buy a shiny Caterpillar back hoe (only $79,500 used), and knock the ditch out in no time. But I don't have any money remember? So the only real option is to pick up a shovel and start digging - an a borrowed shovel at that. Less efficient? Sure! But given the constraints of the problem, it gets the job done.

The thing with the jets is the same deal. They roll into town crying that without $100,000,000,000.00 (I like to type out the numbers because those zeroes make it much more real that sanitizing it with 'billions') they're going down and taking everybody else with them. It's the only way, they said. But they're still going to pay their workers almost twice the going market rates; and they couldn't even bring themselves to downgrade to first class travel. How serious are we supposed to take their pleas under those conditions?

And the number of jets lining the ramps at Aspen on the winter weekends, or Phoenix Skyharbor on Superbowl weekend, or 'commuting' the exec fom the Detroit HQ to his west coast home every weekend gives away the game that they're not being flown as super efficiency business tools ALL the time. Not to mention that they've taken this object lesson as an opposrtunity to pull their tail numbers from FlightAware, making their movements much harder to track. These things are perks, pure and simple. And expensive ones. That the 'little' 3 can no longer afford. But the execs didn't realize that, even as they came begging for $100,000,000,000.00 in taxpayer money. It's like you brother-in-law who drives the new BMW, but keeps asking you to lend him money to make the payments.
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champguy
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Re: Episode #110 "Dave's New Modem"

Postby champguy » Fri Dec 12, 2008 8:52 pm

How many layers of GM management to you have to peel away before you get down to someone who saw this mess comming, and can point to a solvent future. Fire all the dead weight above, down to the guy who can fix things, then start reorganizing the people who want to be part of that future. Sounds like a job for a Federal bankruptcy judge, not a Federal Congressperson. This isn't rocket science, and it sure isn't a place for politics.
I voted for change, and by god we need it now. We borrowed and spent our way into this mess, and now we are going to borrow and spend our way out of it?
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Re: Episode #110 "Dave's New Modem"

Postby Dave Higdon » Sun Dec 14, 2008 1:48 pm

Understanding as I do that the National Business Aviation Association exists to support the legitimate corporate use of aircraft by its business members -- and acknowledging that when our company owns and airplane, we pay dues to belong to NBAA (putting our money where our mouths go...), a couple of salient points seem worth mentioning.

First, in surveys by legitimate, balanced organizations, companies that use aircraft in their business pursuits are shown to be more efficient, profitable and so forth;

Second, the majority of passengers flying in company airplanes are not executive-level staff making big bucks, but lower-echelon staff who need to get to factories and facilities far off the airline routes; believe the non-exec passenger percentage runs above the 80 percent mark.

Third, execs are humans and will almost always work to negotiate the best deal for themselves, including such largess as executive-jet rides home for the weekend...fine if they reimburse according to IRS rules, from my perspective; abuse of the corporate-jet access if it's just a perk -- and for that, the board of directors is as much to blame as anyone for agreeing to such an extravagance...

So, it breaks down that most company aircraft aren't flying high-flying execs most of the time; and most companies that use aircraft in their business perform better than their competitors who do not.

Sounds like a solid capitalist justification to me; believe me, most companies are cost-sensitive enough in even good times that even basic use of an airplane by businesses would not long survive if the accountants didn't see the bottom-line benefit...

FWIW...

Dave

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Re: Episode #110 "Dave's New Modem"

Postby champguy » Sun Dec 14, 2008 4:35 pm

All that is true, and a proper presentation before Congress would require that staff and their briefcases be on hand.
In this case, there was no proper presentation. The most highly paid executives in the world arrived unprepared asking for cash to continue the fiction that others unspecified are to blame and no solution is possible. Good Luck.
The whole situation was ripe for a massive public humiliation. We can be glad it wasn't worse than it was.
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