Cost Of Flying Your Own Airplane Keeps Going Up" width="370" height="220" /> A recent study examined the question "Do Costs Limit Flying?" when it comes to general aviation aircraft and pilots. Those of us who are general aviation pilots have noticed a decline in the amount of general aviation activity, and have seen the declining interest in learning to fly. A graduate student at the Massachusets Institute of Technology has written a thesis titled "Current And Historical Trends In General Aviation In The United States" which provides an insight into the decline of general aviation activity in the United States in recent years. I would recommend that you take the time to read this report by Kamala I. Shetty which covers the following items:
General Aviation Forecasts;
General Aviation Forecasts
The study used data from towered airports only and at the conclusion looks at the FAA's Aerospace Forecast released in the years 2001 to 2011. It shows that airports with general aviation activity during the period 2006 through 2010 showed a decrease of 21.4% over historical operations in excess of 40,000,000. In fact the drop from the FAA's forecast activity to the actual activity showed a decline of 50.5%! This probably explains why small general aviation airports are dying. But as is typical of a governmental agency, the general aviation forecasting by the FAA has remained positive while there has been a consistent decline in general aviation activity!
General Aviation Trends
What I find interesting about this chart is the precipitous drop that occurred in 1982 (Jimmy Carter years) and the drop since the peak in 1999 to below the 1982 levels. To add to this trend the number of pilots fell from a peak of 827,071 in 1980 to 594,285 in 2009. An increase in total pilot certificates increased in 2010 and could be the result of the Student Pilot Certificate being extended from 24 months to 60 months. The cost of fuel was then evaluated and the data shows that during a period of significant fuel prices there is a corresponding decline in general aviation aircraft operations.
A Survey Of General Aviation Costs
The survey found that the change in fuel costs was the most significant driver in the decline of flying activity by General Aviation pilots, 41% of which stated it had a significantly negative impact on their flying activities. I would encourage everyone interested in general aviation to download this pdf and take some time to read through it. If general aviation is to survive this report at least gives us some ideas of what could be done to increase general aviation activity: "Current And Historical Trends In General Aviation In The United States" In the meantime keep your wings straight and level Hersch! Please share "Do Costs Limit Flying?" with your friends using the buttons below. Thanks! Until next time keep your wings straight and level Hersch! JetAviator7+ ps: Don't forget to sign up for updates via email for "All Things Aviation" here!