<b>$15,000 for a Airbus A320 to fly from New York to Long Beach.</b> The article cites $3.50/gallon for aviation fuel => 4285 gallons of gas. Google maps says it would be 2827 miles driving => 1.5 gallons of avgas per car mile. A car can hold 4 people where as an a320 can hold 150 people in a typical us carrier configuration. So to equate to the same efficiency as driving in a theoretical 30mpg car, you'd have to have 80 people on board that A320. Given that load factors are in the 70-80% these days, you could easily exceed that.
Of course that's assuming people would be driving if they weren't flying and ignores the fact that google says it's 42 hours driving time so there would most likely be some rest stops, hotel stays, food etc.
Any kind of cost savings is vitally important at a time when the cost in fuel of flying from New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport to Long Beach has jumped to $15,000 a flight from $9,600 last year, according to Baldwin. That change makes adding Los Angeles International service unaffordable, Baldwin said.
I am going to start posting a series of quantitative statements about resource consumption that I've run across. I haven't fact checked them at all, so take them as they are intended to be: an interesting look at the different numbers being used on the web to discuss resource consumption.
You think you hate sitting on the runway couped up in a plane that seems to be going nowhere. Well, the airlines (and the planet) hates it too. In 2007 $1.6 billion of jet fuel was burned by planes waiting in line to take off at airports. That's 740 million gallons of fuel.
And from the perspective of climate change 7.1 million metric tons of CO2.
In my last post I mentioned lights at night. Long time readers know I've whined about streetlights and their waste of electricity (and their lack of motion sensors). This incredibly beautiful poster (composite image of earth taken at light exposed for the lights and merged with landforms, clouds removed) definitely influences my opinion on street lights, as do the plight of the astronomers dealing with light pollution or merely sitting on my back porch unable to see the stars most nights.
However on the flip side, I have enjoyed flying over our beautiful country staring out the window, and the shapes of our cities outlined by lights is as entertaining as the view of all the landforms (and both are more than the in flight movie that has been very edited for objectionable content)!
I often try to take pictures of the lights of the city as we are landing but the exposures are so slow that the lights blur (though that can be a cool effect -- see images at left ) Anyway, I have seen cities that look like neuronal cells, cities that are very grid based, cities that clearly illustrate the underlying geographic forms and cities that outline new development by the color temperature of the newer streetlights. But I haven't been able to capture these images to share. However NASA seems to have figured out a stable platform from which to take these pictures (they are a bit higher orbit than united airlines flies!) http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Study/CitiesAtNight/
Here's a very interesting image http://benfry.com/allstreets/map5.html made from drawing all the maps in the US on the map. It has a similar effect potraying how much of the natural habitats we have made an impact on, as the nighttime view showing all the lights. Of course in this case the rural areas with a road around 40 acre plots is a lot less of an effect than the dense areas.