Time for a new name?


Re: Charles Spence’s Capital Comments, “Is there a better name than general aviation?“: I absolutely agree. General aviation does not cut it. The word general is equal in context to “average” — and nothing wants to be considered average.

I would look to boating as a comparison. There is no such thing as general boating. There is military, commercial (shipping, cruising and fishing) and recreational.

Applying the same logic, I see three forms of aviation — military, commercial (or business) and recreational. Military aviation is self explanatory. Airlines is a major subset of commercial/business. While commercial may be the more appropriate (and a more “general”) adjective, I think the term business aviation will have greater acceptance for any type of aviation existing for the purpose of making a profit. Some may think recreational aviation should be called “sport aviation,” but I think that is more appropriate as sexier hype for EAA.

There already exist business aviation professional organizations which are inclusive of manufacturers, operators, and by extension, FBOs. Everything that is non “business” could, by default, be recreational.

The only thing left to do is rename your publication and get on with the clarification!

DAVID LAWRENCE, via e-mail


  1. Drew Steketee says

    Re: that troublesome name: The first job Ed Stimpson gave me in 1981 as GAMA director of communications was to noodle a new name for general aviation. After many years (and pressure from many to keep what recognition was already earned,) I came up with a simple fix:

    Cappitalize General Aviation. At least let them know it’s a proper noun, not “aviation generally.” A precious few have gone along with me; my capitalization gets edited to lower case all the time.

    I still submit: “Recreational” is specific to just some of our activity and sounds lightweight. “Business aviation” is also just one facet.

    If we continue with General Aviation, let’s at least “capitalize” on it!

    Drew Steketee
    (GAMA, Beech, AOPA, BE A PILOT)
    Ashburn, Virgina

  2. says

    This comes up every now and then as their is widespread indifference and public confusion about the term ‘general aviation.’ There have been previous attempts to describe what we non-military, non-commercial aviators do with aircraft. Perhaps the best phrase I have heard is ‘personal aviation.’ Let’s all use that. If nothing else, it puts people in the picture.

  3. says

    I disagree with the renaming of General Aviation to Commercial/Business Aviation. General Aviation has always proclaimed, “We are not the Airlines.” Different regulations and to combine would not solve anything. We do not want to be associated with the airlines, in fact, we use the inefficency of the airlines to win people over to GA. I’m afraid the writer, though trying to come up with another name, does not fully understand the business side of GA vs. commercial. Maybe General Aviation is not the proper term but I don’t see the necessity for change. I enjoy the publication General Aviation or GA News, keep up the good work.

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