State jet is worth considering

Letter to the editor

Posted: Tuesday, January 25, 2005

The Alaska Department of Public Safety has proposed to lease a turbo jet to better meet its responsibility for protecting lives, property and wildlife resources in Alaska. It seems the plan is to try the jet out and eventually replace one of the King Airs. Based on a few inquiries, the King Airs were manufactured in 1978 and 1980 and can carry seven passengers each. Their technology is 10 years old. Because of recent FAA regulations regarding separation requirements of aircraft, the department would be limited to flying the King Airs at or below 29,000 feet. This alone provides a turbo jet with a significant advantage over the turbo prop because it can fly at altitudes above major weather systems. Higher altitudes also mean better fuel efficiency, another reason a turbo jet is more desirable than a turbo prop.

A turbo jet aircraft has increased range over a turbo prop. This means that the Department of Public Safety could fly to any community in Alaska - faster and with the assurance that if the plane were not able to land it could make an alternate airport safely.

A turbo jet would take 40 percent less time. This significantly reduces the safety risks to trooper pilots, correctional officers, and the public in transporting prisoners to Arizona. It also increases response time - which is critical in emergencies.

De-icing, or removing dangerous ice from the wing edge, occurs prior to ice forming on a turbo jet by hot air vented from the engine. It is removed on the turbo prop via a pneumatic system that inflates and breaks the ice after it forms on the leading edge. Preventing ice from forming is safer than waiting to remove it once it formed.

If the department leases a turbo jet the governor is going to end up using it. But, according to the department, the governor's usage of the planes over the first two years of his administration has been 543.3 hours, while Department of Public Safety's has been 829.1 hours. It is also important for the public to know that the department has stated that the interior of the jet will not be any more fancy than the interior of the current King Airs - which the department uses to transport prisoners.

An aircraft that better meets the state's mission demand is worth considering. I encourage all Alaskans to review the facts.

Dennis Nottingham

Anchorage



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