Government contract flight

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A government contract flight is a type of charter airline operation contracted with a government agency.

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In the United States, the massive mobility requirements during World War II proved that military transport could not meet all the logistical needs that might arise. As a result, the Civil Reserve Air Fleet (CRAF) was developed to use airline capacity to provide maximum airlift support in wartime situations. As a benefit, airlines that commit planes to CRAF are able to receive peacetime government contracts in an amount proportional to the airline's potential wartime mobilization value. This is the basis for most routine military charter flights. The government receives an extremely economical source of emergency capacity as well as reasonable costs for peacetime military transportation.

United States passenger operations

Most American government contract flights are sponsored by the military. While many of them are used to move cargo, some are operated as scheduled airline services. These flights are virtually identical to standard airline flights, complete with flight attendants, meal service, and in-flight movies. A contract flight returning from an overseas area is often referred to as a freedom bird, since it usually carries military members who are returning to the United States after what is commonly a one-to-three-year tour of duty. The service on board during the Vietnam War was very spartan and did not offer the amenities mentioned above.

During the 1960s and 1970s, the hub for most military charters was Travis Air Force Base (AFB) and McChord Air Force Base on the west coast and McGuire Air Force Base, New Jersey and Charleston Air Force Base, South Carolina on the east coast. These bases connected to a number of foreign hubs, which included Yokota Air Base in Japan and Rhein-Main Air Base in Europe. Starting in the 1980s the military shifted many of its domestic hubs from military bases to commercial airports to better integrate its transportation network with scheduled airline service, thereby avoiding the logistical headaches of transporting passengers between airports and air bases. By 1984 McGuire AFB was replaced with Philadelphia International Airport, and Charleston AFB was replaced with Charleston International Airport. By 1997, Philadelphia was replaced with Baltimore-Washington International Airport (BWI), Maryland and Charleston International Airport replaced with Atlanta, Georgia.

Historically, services were provided to each military theater as follows:

Noteworthy disasters involving a military charter flight include:

Since 1990, scheduled military passenger services have been operated by ATA, World Airways, Evergreen International, Northwest Airlines, Rich International, Sun Country, Tower Air, TWA, ATI, Carnival Air Lines and Omni Air International.

United States cargo operations

The government relies on a number of cargo operators to supplement its own airlift fleet. Contractors include Airlift International, World Airways, and Evergreen International Aviation. On March 23, 1974 an Airlift International DC-8-63 burned at Travis Air Force Base when fuel caught fire during maintenance.

By the 1990s, government contract services for freight were operated by American International, Burlington Air Express, ABX Air, Emery Worldwide, Evergreen International, FedEx, Northwest Airlines, Rich International, Southern Air Transport, Tower Air, TWA, ATI, United Parcel Service, World Airways and Omni Air International.

See also

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References

  1. "Patriot Express Town Hall (USFK website)" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 28 September 2011. Retrieved 24 June 2010.
  2. "Patriot Express (USFK website)" . Retrieved 24 June 2010.[ permanent dead link ]