Air Transportation: January 20, 2003


The US relies on the Civil Reserve Air Fleet to quickly add more airlift during wartime. The general idea is that civilian airlines and air transport companies modify their aircraft to carry military palletized cargo, make them available to wartime call ups, and in exchange, get to bid on peacetime military transportation contracts. The problem is that the military wants to use the most efficient aircraft, Boeing-747s, and doesn't want to use MD-11s or DC-10s. The result is that airlines without many 747s get very little peacetime business and are threatening to drop out of the CRAF program, which would put the US in trouble in wartime as it would have to commandeer aircraft that are not modified to carry military pallets. The GAO says that the Pentagon needs to find ways to increase the use of MD-11s and DC-10s. --Stephen V Cole


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