Want to lure new pilots? Slash the price of airplanes

The cost of building and developing new aircraft must be slashed if general aviation is to attract new pilots, sustain the existing population of owners and flyers and drive up safety, said the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) at AERO 2012 in Friedrichshafen, Germany. In a report at FlightGlobal.com, GAMA’s Greg Bowles is quoted as saying that while there is unfulfilled demand for new aircraft, “Owners are unwilling or unable to buy many of the latest models because they are so expensive. A four-seat entry level piston single like a Cessna 172 cost around $8,750 in 1956. By 2000 the price for a typical four-seat piston single like a Diamond Star had risen to nearly $190,000. This rise far outstrips the cost of inflation over that period.” The culprit: Onerous regulation. Read the full post here.


  1. Rod Beck says

    To Leguest: Yes, your right – in a pre-histroic society! Point is in TODAY’s world, a “car” has a GREATER need than any aspect of “recreational aviation”. Get it now?
    Apparently, I’m amazed of how many lack the cognitive skill to “read between the

    Sorry, I’ll try to be more clear – the CHOICE was either the Coke OR the P-51 hour of “free”dual – or another words – “life” or death”.- one OR the other!

    But I guess you and those with less than average analytical ability might refer to my reponse as “rant”!

  2. Rod Beck says

    Lets see now – a freind recently offered to sell me a “repossed” yacht with a fair market value of $400K for only $75K – only problem, I had no USE for it at ANY price! Point being “price” is NOT the issue – get real! Your theory is that DEMAND will increase significantly IF cost were reduced – I totally disagree!

    The alternative to NEW is “pre-owned” – for less than $50K! New aircraft are not sellling do to the HIGH cost, perhaps – with the exception of Cirrus – who PROVED that a certain targeted market excess for a $400K+ single engine airplane!

    Since light aircraft including LSA’s, will never be mass produced like the auto industry – simply the VOLUME has never nor will it ever occure. And without the DEMAND in volume numbers, much like motor vehicles, economies of scale are verturely impossible to acheive which is required to LOWER cost.

    Lets compare that idea with the “car purchasing” process. First off – people NEED a car and unlike GA, not a “want”. The car has UTILITY value; a NEED – most of GA is for recreation or “fun”; a WANT. The greater NEED will always take presidence (the car), therefore one will be willing and able to pay for the need – not so with the (the plane) a want!

    Try this – your alone in the desert and dying of thirst – a man appears out of nowhere and offers you a Coke (not diet) for $1 which you have; another offers you an hour of dual for “free” in a P-51 – the choice is LIFE ($1) or DEATH (free hour) – sorry, the funeral home doesn’t provide a casket large enough for the Mustang!

    • Leguest says

      People do not NEED cars either. We only need air, water and food. Everything else is optional.
      Anyway what was the point of your rant? Can’t you just buy a coke and get a free hour in P-51?

  3. Redplanet says


    Glad to see Romull citing the LSA case. 

    LSAs are built to ASTM standards, which are established by the industry, not by the FAA, and manufacturers are not subject to allegedly “onerous” Part 23 regulation. These airplanes are sourced from all over the world – China, the Czech Republic, Poland, Germany, Slovakia and even the USA.

    LSAs are two seat, fixed gear, fixed prop aircraft with limited useful load and top speed. They are normally equipped with non-certificated avionics which are much less expensive than the certificated versions.

    Yet a new LSA comparable in quality and equipment to a Diamond DA-20 (though not comparable in terms of carrying capacity and speed) is going to cost over $150K. 

    It appears that radically revising the regulatory structure does not result in cost savings on the order envisioned by GAMA.

    Here’s another way to look at it. Van’s aircraft estimated the basic home-build cost of it’s 2-seat experimental RV-9, with low power engine and fixed prop, to be between $65K and $74K. The 4-seat RV-10 is estimated at between $108K and $120K. That’s the price for a box full of airplane parts for you to assemble in your garage, with nothing like the kind of regulation that GAMA is complaining about.

    Regulation is a convenient scapegoat, but to believe that doing away with Part 23 regulation will make a new Cessna Skyhawk affordable is to believe in the tooth fairy.

  4. Muleflyer says

    Try finding hanger space at GA Aviation Airports in the US. The big three ignore this factor .Student begins training,looks at what they can rent after the check ride. Shops for hanger space and can’t find any,stops flying,buys an RV,Boat or M/C and is lost to GA forever. The big three are FAA,EAA and AOPA

    • Mike says

      Your right! Thats what happen to me, I love flying but I also like to eat.  I sold my partnership on a 182 skylane for that very reason. Im would like to go LSA but not sure I wont get into the same situation. 

  5. Rogmull says

    This song sounds familiar. It’s the same tune used to make the case for LSA.  $35k airplanes were promised.  Where are they?  It’s not going to happen through simplification of regulations alone.  More efficient manufacturing techniques, economies of scale, broadening the market, and more will be needed.  It may be a good start, but its not a panacea.  Don’t promice more than you can deliver.

  6. Guest says

    “The culprit: Onerous regulation.”
    Wait a moment. Why is regulation raising prices? Why new C172 now costs $300K? What kind of regulation is causing its price to go up? Wasn’t C172 certified like 40 years ago? Something does not add up here.

    • Mlandj says

      Lots of regulations and legal stuff has changed over the last 40 years.  When the 172 was originally certified, there were no life replacement items.  Look at the 172R’s now.  Fuel pump – 10yr, Seat belts – 10 yr, Throttle & Mixture cable – 2000 hrs etc etc.

      This has filtered down to the older ones also.  Things like 10 year pitot static hoses & vacuum system hoses replacement.  How about fuel quantity yearly calibrations, 1000 hr/3 year elevator trim actuator lubrication.  How about 100 hr aileron pushrod rod end removal, inspection, lubrication and reinstallation.  Know how long it takes to remove an aileron belcrank for a  1000 hr bearing lubrication?  Anyone ever Check out the Continuing Airworthiness Program.  That will set back any owner a pretty penny to comply with. 

      A Transport Canada inspector told me that evey one of these Cessna requirements are mandatory even for private aircraft. 

      The lawyers have definatley made flying very expensive . . . even for 40 year old aircraft that used to be affordable. 

      • Leguest says

        There is no logic in price increase of the new airplanes due to introduction of life replacement parts or due to maintenance requirement. It does increase the cost of ownership but it does not explain in any the reason for fantastic price of the new Skyhawk.

        If replacement parts were really expensive compared to the total cost of the airplane we would see people buying new airplanes instead of fixing the old ones.

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