Feeds

Senator probes NASA airfield deal for Google's jets

Is space agency giving Larry a break on government's jet fuel?

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

A US senator has asked NASA (PDF) to cough up five years of data about Larry Page and Sergey Brin's personal jets – in the latest flare-up in the rumbling controversy over whether NASA is cutting Google bosses a soft deal by storing their private airplanes in a government-funded research airport.

Google rents 42 acres of land and office space from NASA on their Ames campus, just opposite Google's San Fran offices. The NASA Moffett airfield there also hosts the "Google fleet" – private planes used by Google employees and guests.

Google rents the space and the landing rights for over $3.7m a year for the land and $1.5m for the airplane landing rights, according to a 2008 San Fran Chronicle article.

Google manages the airport through a separate holding company called H2II LLC, and signed the agreement with NASA in 2007.

But some say Google bosses are getting a cushy taxpayer-subsidised private airport for its aircraft, which the senator says include a Boeing 767, a Boeing 757, multiple Gulfstream G550s and helicopters.

Iowa senator Chuck Grassley wants to know how much Google pays for the space, and what it uses the planes for.

The purpose of putting taxpayer money into Moffett Airfield is that it is used for scientific research, but critics say the Google's planes are used much more for tootling Oompa Loompas around than for scientific research.

Grassley asserts in his letter of 14 May (PDF):

1 Whistleblowers have questioned the benefit to the US government from the Google fleet being housed at Moffett Airfield. A recent investigative report analyzed Google flight tracking data, which indicated only five percent of flights were science missions.

2 Further, many Google jets based at Moffett Airfield allegedly have flown all over the world, including Italy, the Caribbean, China and Ireland.

3 Additionally, my office received allegations that Google has purchased jet fuel from the government at a discounted price, a price allegedly well below the market price due to its tax treatment.

The senator has asked for the flying records for each plane for the past five years, including the names of all the passengers on board each trip.

Grassley also wants a record of every time each of the planes has been refuelled in the past and a copy of all the fuelling arrangements.

The senator has given NASA until 25 May to cough up the records.

We've requested more information from Google about their use of Moffett Airfield and how much they're paying for it, though have yet to get a response. ®

Security for virtualized datacentres

More from The Register

next story
The 'fun-nification' of computer education – good idea?
Compulsory code schools, luvvies love it, but what about Maths and Physics?
Ex-US Navy fighter pilot MIT prof: Drones beat humans - I should know
'Missy' Cummings on UAVs, smartcars and dying from boredom
Facebook, Apple: LADIES! Why not FREEZE your EGGS? It's on the company!
No biological clockwatching when you work in Silicon Valley
Happiness economics is bollocks. Oh, UK.gov just adopted it? Er ...
Opportunity doesn't knock; it costs us instead
'Cowardly, venomous trolls' threatened with TWO-YEAR sentences for menacing posts
UK government: 'Taking a stand against a baying cyber-mob'
Sysadmin with EBOLA? Gartner's issued advice to debug your biz
Start hoarding cleaning supplies, analyst firm says, and assume your team will scatter
Doctor Who's Flatline: Cool monsters, yes, but utterly limp subplots
We know what the Doctor does, stop going on about it already
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.