The changing face of general aviation

By LEN ASSANTE

The Dec. 20, 2013, issue of General Aviation News showcased general aviation’s “up and comers,” a group of innovators who are passionate about changing this industry for the better.

I have had the honor of meeting some of these people and agree they offer some amazing ideas and unmitigated passion for GA. Such passion is desperately needed if GA is to survive in any fashion recognizable to today’s General Aviation News readers.

assanteheadshotIt is no secret our best days seem to be behind us. According to the FAA, there were approximately 617,000 active certificated pilots in the US as of the end of 2011. This is down from a high of over 827,000 in 1980. This number has been steadily declining and may even be a high estimate as the FAA definition of “active” is quite generous.

Similarly, the numbers of registered GA aircraft and new GA aircraft built have fallen precipitously. Less than 700 new piston aircraft were delivered in 2013, compared to more than 2,700 in 2006.

A decline in the number of pilots, registrations, and airplanes has likely influenced a downward trend in the number of public use airports. In 1990, there were 5,590 in the United States, down to around 5,170 currently.

Finally, these declines have led to several increases. For example, 100LL aviation gasoline is a “boutique” fuel accounting for less than 1% of all gasoline produced. Avgas production continues to decline and it seems only a matter of time until it will no longer be a viable product for any manufacturer at any price. Fuel prices average over $6 a gallon today and will continue to rise as production drops. Virtually every other product category in aviation has seen similar increases. Many once-common parts are now unavailable or shockingly expensive.

If this continues, it is only a matter of time before GA vanishes, so what can we do?

First “we” means all of us. Most of the innovators mentioned above are very willing to collaborate for the benefit of the whole industry. This must continue if we are to do the following:

  1. Grow more pilots. The most significant thing we can do is to increase the number of active pilots. More pilots means more customers, which means more airplanes and more avionics and more gas and more parts. It also means lowered cost through economies of scale. Bigger markets equal smaller prices.
  2. Embrace the innovators. GA is a conservative industry, entrenched in old, out-of-date practices and burdened by overwhelming regulation. We still see FBOs that think the best way to train a new pilot is in an airplane twice the age of their average student. In a culture where toddlers are often using iPads and video games have more computing power than the flight management systems on jets, it is going to be very hard to entice potential pilots with 1940’s technology.
  3. Be willing to change. The current pilot population and industry infrastructure must be willing to adopt to the times. This means changing attitudes and behaviors. We must embrace our communities, support our airports, open our hangar doors and fence gates. We must share expenses, share ownership, share responsibility, and continue to create a culture of safety first.

Here’s an example. I am affiliated with a company called Aviation Access Project, a startup designed to increase the pilot population by reducing costs of ownership and access. AAP sells managed shares in aircraft, with the average share amounting to 1/8 of an aircraft. Included in the price is a certain number of flying hours per year, usually around 75.

The number one complaint potential owners have about our model is that they have to share their airplane. Most of them don’t currently own anything, and so fly very little, with the average recreational pilot flying somewhere between 50 and 75 hours per year.

There are 4,380 daylight hours in a year. If we have eight pilots flying an airplane 50 hours a year, that equals 400 hours — or less than 10% of the total daylight hours. How does sole ownership make any sense at that level of utilization? We need to be willing to embrace change in order to fulfill our dreams.

Highlighting industry innovators is a valuable service, as it shows us there are new ways to do things, ways that are fun, interactive, high-technology and often not very expensive at all. The more our industry embraces innovation and the more we collaborate as we do so, the better the chances we will stop our march to oblivion. 

 Len Assante, a pilot since 1982, is vice president of communications at Aviation Access Project. He is the proud owner of his favorite Cessna 150 and can be reached at Leonard.Assante@aviationaccessproject.com

Comments

  1. George Gould says

    Only half the flight schools remain open since 9/11. No affordable traing aircraft. Instructors & A&Ps are few and far between. GA is in a free fall with no parachute. With the FAA, EPA at the controls and the ADS-B mandate counting down GA is going to hit the ground hard.

    • Melvin Freedman says

      Geo, I am 84, been flying since the late 60’s. You are so right, unfortunately the younger generation doesn’t seem to care. I’ve blog on Mac’s page(eaa) and yes some are concerned, but have no idea where the problem lies. I had bypass surgery 22yrs ago, had 2 waivers and thru in the towel, didn’t want to support the ama any more. We all know that this item the 3rd class med never save a life and yet it has destroyed the pvt population. There are more lobbies in favor of the 3rd med than their are pvt pilots. I could go on and on and and you know it.

    • LARRY says

      Mel … I was an early purchaser of a SkyCatcher at Airventure 2007. When — a few months later — they announced it would be built in China, I felt betrayed as a retired USAF type. It took a couple of years and threats of a lawsuit but I got my deposit back well in advance of Cessna throwing in the towel.

      That Cessna and Piper and Cirrus threw in the towel on LSA is VERY VERY telling !!

      In the end, the airplane turned out too heavy, poorly designed and constructed and a general all-around fiasco. The MGTOW of ALL LSA’s is ridiculous. Worse … the prices are beyond ridiculous. With economies of scale unable to reduce the prices, I see no hope. Worse of all, I believe ALL LSA’s are borderline unsafe due to the inability to carry enough structure to absorb crash energy. THAT’s why many of them carry BRS parachutes. We didn’t need no stinkin’ parachutes on C150’s 45 years ago !!

      WHY can’t the FAA realize that a mere increase in the MGTOW of LSA’s to a more reasonable number and doing away with the third class medical would re-invigorate aviation overnight? I can drive a 45′ motorhome towing a trailer down the interstate but I have to fly a kite … give me a BREAK FAA !!

      Everyone thought LSA was going to be the panacea that would save aviation but … buying 1/3 the airplane at 3 times the price took care of that. Guys like us ARE buying some but … not enough. The RV-12 might break the mold but I don’t want a low wing airplane.

      The bottom line here is that the young guys … whether they aspire to become airline pilots or recreational GA pilots can’t afford our avocation. We older guys — with the ability to do things … and likely the last who can in any great numbers — are the very people who ought to be courted but … the people who bring us sleep apnea for no good reason don’t see it that-a-way.

      IF LSA’s were so wonderful, why don’t we see more of them and why can’t we rent one in any substantial numbers? We know the answer to that … no matter WHAT LAMA says.

      BTW: I served on the B-58 and B-52 in SAC.

      • Melvin Freedman says

        Larry, the light acft mfgs and all the hardware mfgs are in it for $, with no care for the industry it self. They will never compare to the cessnas or beeches and the other mfgs of our time

      • says

        Hi Larry; you have many of the “problems” with LSA
        sized up well!
        The so called “problem” stems from many flight schools frankly, haven’t seen just how to use , and market, the LSA concept in general.
        For example; wouldn’t a “pilots license” be an easier “sell” for $3-4k, than the traditional “private” to start with – that upgrade to the private license, IF and when necessary, at a later date?
        And, IF the same flight schools had one to train in, they would also have one to rent – a no brainer!
        I know of a flight school in VA and another in FL that have a very high demand for the less than ideal LSA; the Cessna Skycatcher. That said, however, it just comes down to hoe the owners/managers and CFI’s view the LSA as a -“win-win” – but most just don’t!
        ps I believe we have several article on the LSA issue on our blog; get-aviation.com, that where posted on December (2013) and January 2014, that may interest you and other readers . Best to you and thanks!

  2. Steve Bukosky says

    One other source of future pilots, if not already mentioned, is the Civil Air Patrol. On a completely unrelated visit to a school, I passed a classroom and some aviation related items caught my eye. A teacher and some students were there so I just had to pop my head in and say hello. It was a CAP squadron within the school, so I introduced myself as Captain Bukosky, a former CAP pilot and ground instructor. I ended up being asked to speak and did so. I regret not staying involved in CAP but I am gratified to see press releases about the local squadrons, as small as they are. Wherever there are more patriotic schools, we should be encouraging CAP involvement, perhaps in conjunction with the EAA Young Eagles.

  3. Joe Gutierrez says

    I’m sorry folks, but G.A. is going to continoue to decline and much faster as time goes on. It seems the people we have trusted to conserve us have let us down miserably. There is no reason for the price of fuel to be as pricey as it is, all that hoopla and b.s. that we keep hearing from the refinerys is “crap” to say the least. It was’ent that long ago that I could fill up all four tanks on my Comanche 260-B for $1.59 a gallon. They can’t tell me that since then it cost 100% more to refine the same fuel using the same receipy etc. It is nothing but greed and grand theft, no matter what they tell us. Boycott works very good but the real clincher would be to go with CNG comperssed natural gas at 138 octane and the price being $.86 cents per gas gallon. It would bring these jerks and the like to there knees and they can stick there $6.00 gallon avgas in there tailpipe large end first. These are the jerks that are screwing general aviation to oblivion and there is absolutely no reason other than pure “greed”. We pilots that are left have to take the bull by the horns and go with it, if we rely on these so called aviation protectors who keep wanting more money for dues and the like, they are no better than the gas company’s. Back a few years ago we did’nt have all these people alledgely helping us and we were alot better off, and we could afford to fly any time we wanted to. I think we have been sold out to greed people and no one is doing any thing about it, until we as pilots stop this gouging on everytihing that pertains to flying we have been screwed by the greedy finger of fate!!!!!!!

  4. Jason A says

    Av Gas is a boutique gasoline? OH REALLY??? Our writer here must not travel beyond his local airspace. As of the end of February, I’ve seen Avgas fluctuate between 4bucks and 9bucks a gallon at different airports across the country. Our greedy government and off the wall taxes are screwing GA. The areas with the sky high fuel prices are obviously saying, We don’t want you here, but you will pay through the nose if you do! This administration is not doing a darn thing for aviation. Just wait until the day you have to pay for that ILS approach. People in europe have been doing this exact thing for years. This will make instrument training really expensive then! For now, let’s face it, GA is dead, and no amount of cheer leading is going to bring it back to 1970 levels.
    2016 CANT COME FAST ENOUGH!

    • ben schneider says

      The Federal taxes don’t fluctuate five bucks on a gallon of fuel through time. They are constant, and do not change. What does change is the commodity markets for fuel, which causes wide shifts in fuel cost. That is outside the scope of government control because of international trade agreements made over the the last forty years, even before NAFTA.

      If China wants to pay $9.00 a gallon for fuel, the oil companies will set the price there for all of us. It is now a global market. Since China is awash with US Dollars, they can afford to set the buying price of commodities. The greed of the oil companies, who are now making record profits, are only too happy to sell it at the highest price they can. They do not need us to profit!

      I live in one of the largest natural gas fields in the world. One would think that it would be inexpensive here. But NO, it is being extracted to be shipped to sea ports, then to Europe. We will be paying the same price here, as those in Europe. And all we get is the misery of living in the pollution it causes while paying the same highest price possible. The same for the coal being mined here which is going to China. Welcome to free trade!

      It is not only fuel which makes flying expensive. I have owned an airplane since 1982. I remember then that an engine rebuild ranged between three, and four thousand dollars. Today……..$20,000 is not unusual for one to factory standards, on small engines! A factory rebuilt O-200 is like $25,000 now! With your core!

      There is plenty of blame to go around for the cost of aviation going up. The biggest is the ever shrinking pool of people making the market, and that is because of the shrinking of the standard of living which has been on a decline in this country for the last forty years.

  5. says

    Increasing the number of parishoners to ones “church” is fine; however, will that also increase the number of “donations” (plate?) to pay the pastor’s salary and residence?

  6. Melvin Freedman says

    Dave, have a story for you. In 71, I was preparing fr my ck ride with a cfi I shouldn’t havebeen with, flare at las rwy 19 and there was a big X, wo, kick in rudder and landed on th left 19 and the cfi never woke up.

  7. LARRY says

    We can mentor all we want … won’t make a difference unless and until the FAA decides that THEY want to save GA. This article evoked many great responses, lots of good ideas but NONE of them will save GA until the FAA wakes up. There are lots of fine FAA types but just as many, or more, “yes men” or non-aviation types just keeping a cubicle in use in the FSDOs, et al. Michael Huerta is a political appointee with no particular interest in keeping GA alive. It’s time we ALL face that fact.

    All the FAA would have to do is drop the third class medical for recreational pilots ala HR3708 … not the AOPA/EAA petition. Then, get real with maintenance requirements for recreationally flown airplanes. I own a C172 and a PA28 and agree that I do more harm than good with annual inspections on a hangared airplane that only flies 20 to 25 hours yearly. An annual engine inspection by an A&P and a five year full inspection by an A&P/IA for any airplanes not in commercial use would do it. Finally, stop trying to make aviation 100% safe. We ALL know that the last percentage points of any objective costs the most and is rarely successful. One over X NEVER reaches 100%. They should be concentrating on their commercial customers, not GA. Finally, as one commenter suggested, make non-alcohol based high octane MoGas available. Maybe one more thing … increase the MGTOW of LSA to something like 1750 pounds or 2000 pounds. At that point, we’d keep the existing pilots who then COULD mentor.

    Unless these things are done … all we’re ALL doing here is heating up the earth’s atmosphere and making Al Gore unhappy. Sorry to be SO cynical but I am consolidating all of MY aviation activities to one location and planning to sell it all soon. I am NOT going to put up with any more FAA BS … end of story. I see no hope for us, boys.

    • Ben Schneider says

      Even though I have owned a C150 and a PA20 since the mid eighties, and have flown 1400 hours in them, I just purchased a N3 Pup to fly. I am going part 103! A lot less regs, and cost, but with less versatility. It doesn’t have the range to do cross countries, but at 1.8 gallons per hour it will not brake the bank account. Ten years ago I would have never considered doing such a thing. The economics of maintaining an airplane, and the medical testing I need to go through every year to maintain a third class medical has forced me to go this direction. I am not ready to give up flying. I am adjusting to the realities forced on me.

    • Melvin Freedman says

      Larry, you are absolutley correct. I am working on 84. feel great and have had a ticket (pvt) since 1971. The ck ride was $70.00, In 92 I had bypass surgery. Had two waivers and I through in the towell. I was a renter all those early years, it was great, just walk down the line and pickout what I wanted to fly, That simple. If I hadn’t ever flown a certain acft, I have someone ck me out, thats it. Those days are gone. By the way learning to fly was and is the most rewarding challenge of my life. Living in Nv for 50yrs and flying out of vgt allow me to be a very lucky person.

      • LARRY says

        Good for you, Mel. I’m working on 67 and have also been flying since ’71. During most of that time, I’ve owned at least one and sometimes more than one airplane. I currently own both a C172 and a PA28. I can do that because I’m an A&P and do my own work. Were it not for that, it would not be possible to own an airplane anymore. Your description of flying as being THE most rewarding challenge and experience in your life is mirrored by me, as well. Ben, I put on about a thousand hours on my airplanes and am also considering LSA, as well. I’m just having a hard time visualizing selling two superb airplanes which I’ve owned for almost 30 years and STILL not having enough $$ to buy one LSA. NUTTY.

        • Melvin Freedman says

          Larry, with all thats been said, lets face it the faa does need a lot of changes and we as pvt pilots don’t stand a chance. Yes oversight of the acft industry is a must and yes airworthness is # one.

        • Melvin Freedman says

          Tom, I never wanted to fly for money. For those who have never experienced this thing called flying, the challenge, the beauty and are just awsome.

          • LARRY says

            Mel. I agree with your last comment 110%. For ME, as I age, I don’t care about flying into busy towered airports, using my instrument ticket to fly ILS approaches in bad weather, or anything else like that. I am fortunate to have a summer home in rural Wisconsin and have a hangar on a wonderful little airport with no fences, no TSA, nothing. . just pilots who love flying. On nice days, we all show up, fly low and slow over gorgeous WI countryside and then become alchemists … turning beer into urine in our hangars. It don’t get no better’n THAT. I am momentarily moving my entire aviation operation up there and giving up flying in Florida altogether. All the flight training going on at the airports I use in FL is driving me away. Seems like every tail number ends in “ER” and those pilots don’t speak good English. When I go north, it’s just the opposite…while it lasts.

          • Melvin Freedman says

            Larry, I live in that fl, and both of us agree its, a lousy place fly. I wish I was back in NV, or in your state.

          • LARRY says

            Mel. I served in the USAF at Edwards AFB for 16 years of my career and thereafter worked for the manufacturer of the B-2. So I lived in the Mojave desert for 27 total years before moving to FL. I had a hangar at Mojave for 17 years and enjoyed flying in that relatively ‘quiet’ airspace. Here in FL, seems like all I see is “ER” airplanes or ATP airplanes all filled with foreigners who don’t speak good English and don’t know what they’re doing … although they prance around with white epaulet shirts. In rural WI, all I see are nice folks who know what they’re doing, DO speak English and that’s that. I’m readying my C172 to go to WI this summer and I’m leaving it there. I’ve had enough of FL flying and the corrosion I see every year when I get back from up north.

          • Melvin Freedman says

            Larry, I’ve been to Edwards with my CAP sq. saw all those great acft. Flying to Calif. fr nv. was following I 15 so. I Always got a good look at that dry lake and rwy at edwards , it was always awsome.

          • Melvin Freedman says

            Larry, I too served in the USAF, Volunteer fr the air force in oct 50. Served with SAC, the Hq sq, of the 55th. Need I tell you more.

  8. "Jeep" Platt says

    The aggregate of the preceding comments clearly lay out the issues. There has to be a catalyst, to begin with. No motivation, no ultimate motion. As one who grew up in the 50’s and started flying while in the USAF, the driving motivations were all around. CFIs and I.P.s? My primary instructors were all rated USAF pilots with wide experience. I also was also able to experience the advances in aviation technology in stages, from A.R.C. coffee-grinders to 720 channel radios… never mind GPS and glass! The 22 year old time-builders accomplish but one thing… they punch your ticket once every two years. Fortunately for me, I have discovered a few incredibly competent and seasoned CFIs that are in it because they want to be. I have had few justifications for flying, some, but not that many. What I and my contemporaries shared was the personal desire to be competent pilots. Most of us have done pretty well but the time has come for some real re-assessment(s). The last annual inspection for our well maintained ’73 Cherokee 180 (two-pilot partnership) was about $4200. With AvGas at record high levels, the old $50 Saturday hamburger is on par with a trip to Ruth’s Criss. $275 12 volt batteries and $80 gaskets are tipping the scale. How much longer for us? I do not see a light at the end of the tunnel (maybe someone can hand me a couple of good BA-30s!! )

  9. Tom says

    If we can’t answer the simplest question “What is a private pilot license for” then we cannot move forward. We are a ship without a rudder.

    If you are not in it for a flying career, then what is a pilot license for. Someone answer that first and then we can fix what might or might not be broken.

    It has been said that ‘necessity is the mother of invention’. I agree with this. But since there is no true identified need in flying, we cannot hope to find a creative path to fix private aviation.

    • says

      Hi Tom; Your on to it”! What needs to be “sold” and isn’t, is the UTILITY value of the airplane – period! NOT cost effective as “fun” only! Look us up: get-aviation.com – thanks!

  10. Rich says

    We need to move GA from leisure sightseeing to practical transportation. What good is flying to another small airport if I can’t leave it? We need better transportation options to connect small airports with the community. Taxis can’t be scheduled and take hours to show up, if at all. Rental cars are sparse and expensive. If we can bridge the gap, GA can become part of the infrastructure.

    • says

      Rich; YES, YES, and Oh YES; don’t worry – that’s NOT my 22 year old “girlfriend” screaming out in erotic delight! I know; “you’ll have what I’M having” – just kidding – now; do I have your attention?

      Mike and I refer to this practical application as the UTILITY value. Both Mike & I, have been “preaching” this sales/marketing approach for years – financially , someone is listening and gets it! Thanks , Rich! Mike & Rod at; get-aviation.com

  11. Dave says

    I’m speaking as someone who was working on getting my pilot’s license, but am giving up and getting out of aviation. The issue I have encountered is flight schools and instructors who want to milk you of every dollar they can get, but don’t give a damn if you ever get your license. The 3 different instructors I flew with didn’t seem to care if I ever took my checkride. They offered no encouragement and very little specific training to help me feel confident enough to take that last step. Also, there were multiple occasions when I would drive for an hour to a scheduled lesson only to be told the instructor had an “appointment” or the airplane was “down for maintenance”. No one bothered to pick up the phone and let me know the situation. Underappreciating and disrespecting your customers is no way to grow an industry.

    • Tom says

      Dave, let’s take it a step further and name names. What is the flight school and who are the instructors? Let’s let capitalism work its magic so people know to vote with their feet.

    • PB says

      Forty years ago I noticed an Israeli kid at SMO who had built 120 hours – flying in the pattern. Admittedly, he had a thick accent and limited English, but still ………
      An instructor friend took him under his wing and flew with him and he did get him his certificate, but I did notice that he wasn’t competent.
      Another man I helped bought a light twin, and he hired me to fly the plane for him. Just once I was right seat with him and he was incompetent. He had his certificate, but he just wasn’t mechanically adept and just was marginally safe.
      Yes, there are schools that will milk you – but the red flag (and I’m embarrassed to say this) is the remark that you had three instructors. My guess is that each one gave up on you and said to another “Maybe you can do something with him”.
      Sorry, and I know that is insulting, but think about it.

      • Dave says

        Well gee whiz, PB. You made a bad guess. I passed my written exam with a score of 98 before I started taking lessons. I flew my first solo after just 7 hours of instruction. I built my own airplane in my garage from a set of plans. I’m a pretty competent individual.

        When you drive an hour to take a scheduled lesson and the instructor doesn’t even show up…that’s pretty rotten. When another instructor sits next to you texting and checking his Facebook page…that’s pretty rotten. The first instructor quit his job at the flight school and went to work for IBM. No instructor gave up on me. I knew I was wasting my time and money and gave up on them.

        Your assumption that I, the customer, was at fault is part of the problem with GA. Condescending and arrogant attitudes don’t win new converts.

        • PB says

          My apologies – my sincerest apologies.
          I knew that I was sticking my neck out, but I read between the lines and jumped to the wrong conclusion.
          In life we make mistakes, and I’m not immune. At least you’ve been a gentleman and courteous in pointing out my error and poor assumption, and I appreciate the correction.
          I’m actually heartened to be wrong – and I’m glad that you achieved what you set out to achieve.
          Just for reference – flight schools are harshly judged by the FAA and a call to the FSDO would have gained an investigation.

          • Dave says

            Apology accepted and appreciated, PB. I have loved flying since I was a kid. Not taking the last step to getting my license has really bummed me out.
            This conversation has actually made me reconsider my decision to give up. I just need to find an enthusiastic, flying-nut kind of instructor who will give me the checkride prep I need. Also, I’m sure that in my mind I am making the checkride into a much scarier monster than it is in reality.

    • says

      Dave; Nothing new – what your referring to; the flight schools incompetence, is rampant on a national level! This IS the problem; the flight school and it’s management – “plane and simple”! Not sure about this claim – call up 14-15 flight schools nationally; Iowa, New York, North Carolina, Utah, California, Florida, Maine, etc and SEE how unprofessional your inquiry is handled – than your decide for your self!

  12. ben schneider says

    I have a C150 and a PA20. Both aircraft have flown many hours in the past on auto fuel with the EAA’s STC. Why can’t the fuel suppliers ship 87 octane auto fuel without the alcohol. Many of the older aircraft which were designed for 80 octane will do just fine burning 87 octane auto fuel, if it did not have the alcohol in it! That would cost nearly half for fuel cost.

    The FAA is running people out of the sky! Much too much regulation! Over kill! Most young people do not want to jump through the hoops the FAA makes one jump through. Just the need to tear down my hangered C150 every year, after about 20 hours flying for an annual is ridicules! A 100 hour or five year system would be better. I am wearing out the airplane taking it apart, and putting it together again for annuals.

    Finally, the medicals! I have a special issuance because of a 37 year old heart condition. Every year I need to take a stress test, wear a Holter monitor, and need to wait months for OK City to say it OK to fly again. My cardiologist and AME sees no problems concerning my health. But to be able to fly, I jump through these very expensive hoops every year to be able to fly my C150.

    The C150 is considered safer, and more easy to fly then all of the Light Sport Aircraft. Just because it weighs just a few pounds more then their weight limit, the FAA has eliminated this aircraft for others that don’t fly nearly as well. Both my daughters started flying my C150 when they became five years old. My eldest daughter flew me on a 150 mile cross county when she was ten. She did all the navigation, finding Cleveland’s Cuyahoga County Airport on her own, and stayed legal as well. All I did was make the take off, watched her fly, and land the airplane. If a ten year old can do it, why all the fuss?

    The FAA needs to be overhauled if flying is to continue not only as a sport, but as a economic part of this society. Over regulation is the one item which is hurting the aviation the most. I know many IAs, APs, CFIs, AMEs who have quit because it is just too costly to stay current. Because there are so few working yet, I find it hard to stay current myself. I would suggest they start with a clean page.

  13. Roger says

    As many have already noted…LOTS of reasons for the shrinking pilot population…and as noted, getting the proposed changes eliminating the third class medical is one good step, as is certifying our machined for that elusive 92 octane mogas w/out ethanol, and finding a way to mentor folks with less costly CFI fees… We in the Air Force auxiliary have a similar problem…not recruiting, but keeping the interest up…lots of daunting “safety” protocols and planes that are still pretty hefty with fees to learn flying.. And too much paperwork to keep them involved, so they leave. When I learned to fly (way back in 64′) the DFE in Fresno was thorough AND helpful in getting me licensed???and cost fair… $25.00 siNce he knew what I earned as a 1lt on active duty (375mo.) Lot s of other pilots were helpful along the way too.
    The answer is practical, REASONABLE, and courageous pilots wiTh restored machines. A bonanza club member noted that one can get into an “old one” for under 35k…. The price of a new car…but then what? Let’s get clinics available to help us old ones maintain and install avionics at a fair cost…but most of all… Get us all back into the front seat to afford to mentor kids who are interested.

  14. Greg says

    I would love to learn to fly. The biggest thing stopping me right now is the class 3 medical. I qualify for, and will eventually get (once I can afford training) my sport pilot ticket, since I have a valid state drivers license. IF the General Aviation Pilot Protection Act passes into law, then I WILL proceed on to my private pilot certificate.

    The SINGLE BIGGEST Barrier I face right now is financial.

  15. Ric Lee says

    Len,

    As an avid pilot I have read countless articles like yours that states the obvious, “We must grow the pilot population!” I have yet to read anything that makes sense on the how to do it part. I have personally mentored 2 people into flying that have obtained their private pilot certificates. I try to get people enthused about flying whenever I strike up a conversation. My local EAA chapter does lots of Young Eagle events each year. If you have more to offer on the “How to” part, I’m all ears.

  16. TC says

    Charting a course to affordable flight…

    I appreciate the truth that is expressed here as well as a large number of the heart felt opinions. I have one of those. Having had face to face conversations with not one but two 14 CFR Part 21 PAH’s (decision makers), Product Liability has become the ball and chain of progress… yes… again to PAH’s willingness to put (and keep) SLSA birds in the General Aviation marketplace. My opinion? Get a significantly better handle on the current Product Liability associated with airplane manufacture and service. With that the PAH can derive reasonable profit margins and afford to build and market affordable SLSA machines and FAA Certificated Repair Stations will be more inclined to serve the SLSA sector of the G/A industry. When that happens, the cost of the Sport can be less and the rest seems to be trickle-down economics for the licensed and wanna be pilots.

  17. Greg says

    I am trying my hardest to fully understand what everyone is saying. To those claiming (paraphrased) disruptive and overreaching regulations: please specifically state which regulation(s). An explanation as to why it is too burdensome would be great, but at the least, please list the rule and I will research the rule and deduce its negative impact. If there are far too many to list, please hit me with your top few most-disruptive.

    To those complaining about the FAA needing to do more (certification work to alleviate examiner costs for applicants): please elaborate on how the FAA is to meet their mandated responsibilities while also taking on this additional duty, while at the same time facing extreme budget pressures from Congress/[some of] the American people.

    • PB says

      Traditionally, the FAA’s role has been to foster and regulate general and commercial aviation. I think that I am correct in stating that the FAA is there for the airlines, primarily, but it has a role to assist general aviation, along the time honored philosophy of equal service to each aircraft, regardless of size.
      The FSDO in San Jose recently refused me a ferry permit, telling me that their instruction now is to pursue prosecutions and enforcement of repair stations. The inspector didn’t give me an option, although I know the option is to go to a DER – Caching – $600.
      Same in Florida at a FSDO there for another IA last week I talked to. This might spread.
      When I got my ratings I used a designee for $50, although the option of a free service from a FSDO inspector was available. Now the inspectors will not provide that service (although they legally could) and a designee must be used. Current cost per checkride – $600.
      Registration fees? Only $5 every three years. But why? Aircraft records – $10 or $20, but they could be accessed on line. Why charge for access to personal records when the government demands they they be provided with data for its use, yet charges for a review?
      I’m an ATP and A&P/IA and I bother the FSDO staff rarely – yet when I do they are stressed, yet are clear that they want to stay until retirement due to the benefits and they do as they are told.
      Australia has engaged the services of three distinguished airline and GA people who are conducting a study and recommending ways to streamline and simplify the burdensome regulations in that country hoping to reduce costs and to allow pilots and aircraft owners to operate at lower costs. The Federal Government has instructed the FAA to simplify, and we hope to see what the FAA proposes so we may comment on the changes, and it will be great if the FAA removes the regulatory shackles and allows the industry to use uncertified (aka ‘experimental category) equipment on smaller certificated aircraft so as to reduce equipment costs and to enhance fleet capability and safety.
      Remember, with respect to you, that the role of the FAA is to foster and regulate, and we’d appreciate less regulation and more ‘fostering’. A simple step would be to allow FSDO inspectors to conduct a check ride again. With a private check ride, multi-engine, checkride, instrument, commercial, and ATP, all times $600, that is $3000 that is needlessly paid to designees. The local designee at my airport is a United 737 captain who demands to be paid in cash. Easy spending money, but he clips $1800 a day when he does these checks, and he is still required to fail a percentage and picks up the fee the second time as well. It just isn’t fair, it’s unaffordable, entry level pilots can’t afford it, and some relief in costs absolutely has to come if this industry is going to grow again.

  18. Andrew says

    As long as we concentrate on the older, unhealthy pilots there will be no improvement in the number of general aviation. The only solution, in my opinion, is to attract young people to the aviation and this can be achieved only by making it much les expensive to get the pilots license. In my days, when average worker could afford the pilots course without major sacrifices we had loads of GA pilots. Today as we all know, but are less to admit, it is almost impossible for a young professional with hundreds of thousands $ in student loans and probably no job security to even think about becoming a recreational pilot. What we need to do is to bring the industry government, clubs and pilots organizations to solve this very serious problem. If not expect to numbers drop even further each year until we’ become another Europe or Canada.

      • Bernie McAda says

        Sounds like he’s ‘from the government and I’m here to help’……….. And older doesn’t necessarily go along with ‘unhealthy’. I’m 76 and still going great…

    • james l. hibbert says

      Dumb—-I am older and have mentored young pilots that are now flying. I am healthy,
      reflexes are still good and would challenge you to an ils minimums approach. In addition, I teach test prep classes for the young folks in order for them to pass their
      written exams.

      James l. Hibbert

    • Tom says

      That was not a smart comment about older pilots. We mentor the young pilots with our knowledge gained after many years of flying. I am 74, have an ATP with a first class medical and still fly a large corporate jet to many places around the world.

  19. Clayton Yendrey says

    I think the problems and likely solutions are obvious to most. The real problem is inertia to overcome the current “as is” mentality in the industry and regulation. $300K plus for a 172 (really a two seater with some baggage capacity) is not a place we should be, particularly with a power train straight from 1930.

    It should surprise no one that costs of GA aircraft trended upward on pace with the increasing regulatory burden. That same regulatory burden has frozen power plant technology in 1930- 40’s era, and made even the adopting even the most mundane of new technology expensive and difficult.

    GAMA complains but is also complicit; look at the Cessna Skycatcher. It had many burdens, but the one thing too much was the Lycoming engine. It gave up useful load, performance, and range over the Rotax 912 engine. Why? Not because of the FAA, but because too many FBO’s feared their technicians weren’t up to the maintenance. Well guess what, that is the price of any advance and that is why they make factory training schools. Your AP doesn’t want to train, then he is taking himself out of the market place. Can you imagine still what our auto fleet would look like if there were no technology innovations because the manufacturers were afraid the existing mechanics wouldn’t know how to work on them? Ridiculous as my grand daughter says…

    Cost of instruction seems it should be related to cost of aircraft, yet the wet hourly rate for a 30 year old steam gauge 172 (with a retail value in the $50-70K range) is only 25 to 30% less than for the same 2010 version (glass cockpit $200-300Kcost). The cost of instructors is hardly worth considering compared to the hourly wet rates – lets get real.

    The final reason GA seems to not attract new pilots is a blind spot of galactic proportions. When was the last time anyone saw a Learn to Fly ad or even a infomercial of all things for GA on general TV? I can remember seeing these type of ads when I was a kid – and even remember the Sky King show. It is next to useless to advertise for new students in Flying, AOPO, or other industry media – looking to expand the market among the already converted is like looking for a Republican at the Democrat National Convention. Expanding the out reach and advertising campaign to the new, young professionals, and in general audience media should be a prime target of GAMA, not to mention the other alphabet pilot / flying organizations. As long as that doesn’t change, don’t expect to grow the pilot population regardless of what the regulatory or tech basis for GA is.

  20. Melvin Freedman says

    Pvt Pilots, By doing away with the 3rd class med folks, the active pvt population would immediately increase by the 10’s of thousands over night.

  21. Lee Baker says

    I have read many good and not so good comments today. So, I think I’ll throw my comments into the mill. A subject that has not been commented on is the lack of rental airplanes, especially SLSA type airplanes available to the aging private pilots or those longing to be sport pilots.

    I live in East Texas, but I have traveled over large portions of this very large state. Where I go to a new place I seek out the local airport. More often than not I find everything locked up, there are no airplanes on the flight line to inspire the young people. There are precious few FBO’s and those that are operating and have rental aircraft also have hourly rental rates in excess of $135 for very old airplanes. As for SLSA aircraft, they are practically nonexistent. In order to enroll my wife in Sport Pilot training, or get a checkout so that I may exercise my PPL, we must travel 80 miles and spend 1.5-2.0 hours on the road one way. Obviously this means the extra expense of a weekly motel room or weekend training over a long period. Even if I could obtain the training there is no aircraft near enough to rent.

    Most of us ancient pilots became interested in flying by watching airplanes operate at airports large and small. We could walk on the flight under supervision and look and touch the airplanes. This not possible in most locations now.

    There are many things that need fixing, but all the gee whiz gadgets and platitudes won’t solve the problem if people cannot see, hear and touch the airplanes. You must be able to have real contact with real airplanes if you want to get kids away from their electronics that just lead to flying drones.

  22. Steve Bukosky says

    As a long time pilot who is type 2 diabetic, the FAA flight examiners need to stop doing self-colonoscopies and admit we are not going to pass out at the yoke! I applaud the “drivers license” medical.

    Fuel has to be cheaper. I’d like to see a Shell station straddle the fence. One side for cars and the other we can taxi up and top off the tanks and not have to pay for a wheezy old truck to pull up and do it. But I suppose the government would have issues with that. They are both the problem and solution.

    I used to work at two airports back in the 60’s. While most flights were one hour joy rides, we’d refuse to rent to pilots who wanted the plane for a day or weekend but only put a couple hours on the Hobbs meter. That may be the biggest problem, flying became boring. Flying to remain proficient is enough for some, but many wanted real transportation and adventure. For that to be possible, there needs to be a larger fleet of rental or club aircraft. The ranks diminished too, because many pilot were licensed and bought planes because of the GI Bill education benefits. As that ended, GA began the decline.

    I think ownership might rise if there were more reason to actually own a plane. Consider motorcycles. The most successful, Harley Davidson, produces motorcycles that cost more than some used 150’s and 172’s. But they also provide a reason to ride and socialize. There might be something in that to consider.

    As to reaching the youth and public in general, there used to be The Aviation Channel on cable TV. It turned into the Military Channel. I think the current generation is not attracted to aviation by watching how easily a B2 can fly from Missouri, bomb some place in Europe and return home. GA should not be associated with death and destruction. The Alaska aviation reality shows could have been a shot in the arm for getting people interested in flying. We really need another Aviation Channel. A few modern versions of Whirlybirds and Sky King wouldn’t hurt either. But above all, stop giving the impression that you have to be a doctor, lawyer or successful business owner to afford flying, even though that is the truth.

  23. Marvin says

    I have flown for 40 years, I am healthy but borderline on a few minor issues and don’t want to take my medical. If I could fly with my drivers license I am still a healthy qualified pilot, would gladly accept some limitations and would also quit when I know I should.

    • Greg says

      If you have not been denied a FAA medical certificate, you can fly with a drivers license using the Light Sport aircraft and rules.

  24. Chuck Stone says

    I am a retired pilot, I will be 69 years old this year. I no longer have a FAA medical due to some health issues, but am allowed to fly under the LSA rules. AOPA and EAA are behind the bill coming up hopefully this year in congress called the “Pilot Protection Act” which will allow pilots like me to continue to fly, but expand the window of aircraft beyond just LSA restrictions. Please support this bill by writing or emailing your congressional representatives!
    Semper fi

  25. Mike says

    In the 40’s and 50’s, small GA airplanes were hawked by the manufacturers as the safest and most reliable way to get around for family vacations and business activities. “Think of all the sales calls you can make in your fully instrument capable Cessna 140…get one today!”

    People bought into this hype in droves…and they used their aircraft to go anywhere at any time just like Piper, Cessna Luscombe, and all the others said they could and should. Clouds…no problems. Ice….no problems. Thunderstorms….no problems. Guess what happened? The pilot population grew exponentially and in similar fashio, people crashed and died at the same “exponential” rate.

    According to an AOPA database (https://www.aopa.org/About-AOPA/Statistical-Reference-Guide/General-Aviation-Safety-Record-Current-and-Historic.aspx) the GA accident rate in 1946 was 77.8 per 100,000 hours of flying time. 50 years later, in 2006…a decade or two after the aviation community woke up and started teaching people that you can’t just blast off wherever and whenever you want, the accident rate was down to 6.35 per 100,000 hours!

    So, why is the pilot population declining? Well, because the aviation community is teaching people (as we should) to recognize the limitations of GA flying and people are responding to that. Yes, flying IS the most wonderful experience next to you know what (at least I think so). BUT it has its limitations and you MUST recognize the edge of the envelope. Spend a couple of nights in the cockpit of your average GA aircraft in night IMC by yourself during the summer trying to work around thunderstorms after a full day’s work on the ground (phew) and you will see it plain as…well the lightening off in the not so distant distance.

    So, now the pilot population is a more realistic representation of the true practicality of GA flying and that is a GOOD thing. We have to learn to live with it. And, more electronic do-dads in the cockpit ain’t gonna change that.

    • George longino says

      Why don’t People on their teens, 20s, 30s etc want to learn to
      Fly?
      Look around…. See many heros? The real issue is there are no heros to emulate! Maybe a good old war would help, but the fine people in th USA don’t even though we are in one (or 2) now.

      • Mike says

        They have hero’s, George. Didn’t you ever watch ‘The Bachelorette’, ‘America’s Next Top Model’, or the ‘Kardashians’. ;-)

  26. PB says

    The article compares days of old but doesn’t reflect on the realities of the economy and the United States place in the world today, and in the future, and how aviation fits the future model.
    The USA is a mature economy. The WW2 and post war stimulus has gone. Government budgets are bloated and there is zero political will to change, and the Administration is grasping for ways to glean more money from anywhere. Congress prevents tax increases, so the Administration adds fees (which it can). Government world wide feel that inflation is a good thing (because they tax capital gain, which is inflation). Costs are only going to rise further.
    Unless someone else pays for the cost of training and aircraft ownership, there won’t be any improvement in pilot graduation rates. The high cost of gaining the certificate, and the low value of jobs in the industry, assure that the trend of emerging pilot decline continues. Military shrinkage assures a decrease in pilots from that source.
    I foresee the airlines going back to a cadet program where they train from college graduation and form the selected pilots to their molded vision of what a pilot should be.
    I see a need for VA or similar grant programs that subsidize training costs.
    The requirement now, as an example, to use a designee to do a check ride is outrageous – these designees are clipping $600 in SoCal now. How in hell do primary students or pilots trying to upgrade ratings afford this?
    Like any industry, costs have to brought under control, and while an impotent government has disappointed us, the FAA could assist by allowing staff to perform flight checks.

    • Carter says

      For my son, this is good news-after flying in the Air Force for eleven years- I expect his pay and benefits, as an Airline pilot, will be extrodinarily high ten years from now. After all, the airlines will have to foot the bill to train new pilots very soon, as Lufthansa currently does and since they didn’t have to pay for his training maybe he’ll get a bonus.

      The same goes for airline ticket prices. The more small airports close then the fewer the number of pilots. Only when airline ticket prices climb to lofty heights will communites start to embrace their local airfields. But by then it will be too late. But maybe, just maybe, the pilots won’t be the evil doeers the media make us out to be, but the property developers will finally be seen as greedy land sharks out to make money from the city and county airport properties they had condemned. That will be sweet.

      Of course we as pilots, all need to remind the residents, around those small pesky airfields, who bought their properties knowing the airfields were there, that they are contributing to the high price of airline tickets. After all, when their airfields closed any kid who wanted to get flight training had fewer flight schools to choose from and had to travel many MORE miles to get training.
      Greed is Good, good, good, good, good good, goo, go, g.*
      *Gordon Gecko

    • Greg says

      The FAA has several responsibilities. They are allowed to perform flight checks however, given all the other tasks that must also be accomplished, the checks would have to wait months until they could be conducted. There is no timely way to have the checks conducted without the use of designees.

      • PB says

        Greg – I have no interest in unproductive argument. However:
        “They are allowed to perform flight checks however, given all the other tasks that must also be accomplished”
        I passionately disagree. The FAA Re-authorization Bill was passed, the agency is funded, they have an obligation to promote safety, and the excuse that I have been given is “orders from management”. The FSDO inspectors would do it, but they are instructed not to.
        Their mandate is to ensure public safety, but they spend most of the budget on airline support, not GA, and I disagree that shoving students onto designees is responsible public policy. Entry level pilots pay taxes too. They support the Trust Fund through their aviation fuel usage and to deny them a taxpayer funded (paid out of the very tax they pay on every gallon of fuel) check ride is unconscionable.

        • Greg says

          In 2013, FAA Inspectors and DPEs combined conducted 74,313 certification/rating tests. (Inspectors were 2,326 of that number) That’s more than 203 per day, including all weekends and holidays. More realistically, the per day number jumps when you add weekends, holidays, bad weather days, etc. do you honestly believe the FAA alone can cover that while also meeting all of their other obligations? Are you willing to pay more taxes so that the FAA can hire more inspectors to allow them to conduct more tests themselves?

    • Tom says

      PB had said “Unless someone else pays for the cost of training and aircraft ownership, there won’t be any improvement in pilot graduation rates. The high cost of gaining the certificate, and the low value of jobs in the industry, assure that the trend of emerging pilot decline continues. ”

      But this is where the problem really lies. We cannot simply grow aviation based on the purpose of having a license to be for employment in aviation. That is the wrong track in my opinion.

      Flying must be able to stand on it’s own without the sole purpose for doing so to be employed in the industry.

      Until we can answer “what is a pilot license for”, we can’t hope to address and fix the problem. Until we can show a potential new aviator the “value proposition” for obtaining a license, we are doomed.

      We need to be able to explain to a new aviator what their potential “missions” will be after obtaining a license. Those new missions must be something other than aviation careers. Otherwise all we have is a pyramid scheme.

      I hope I am delivering my point in an understandable way.

  27. Carter Boswell says

    I’m not done. So when your done flying, you use your plane as a car. So after you get your private license you are still using the vehicle, everyday. In fact the vehicle can fly itself to your destination if you don’t have a flying license. You just tell it where you want to go and it gets you their and avoids traffic on the way. Google can already do this but they won’t say they can.

    And our youth will look back at us and say, wow, can you believe they, the old folks, used to drive on roads everywhere? How stupid.

  28. Doyle Frost says

    Thank you for an informative article. To this pair of “old” eyes, and mind, there is value and truth in all sides of this issue. But, the biggest single item, in my mind, is COST!
    Local politicians wanting nothing to do with GA, only interested in keeping their airport open for corporate/commercial aviation; FBO managers more interested in those same bizjets, more fuel sales to them; fuel sales to charter companies/air freight, etc., airport managers wanting to make the local politicos happy, to keep their jobs, fewer people even having any understanding of what GA actually is. And the list goes on. But, it all boils down to one thing – MONEY. Kids and their families are not going to pay out fortunes to train their child to fly, even with the possibility, slim though it may be, to actually attain a position as a “big bird” driver.
    Until we can bring back the romance flying used to have, and the mystique of the “pilot,” fewer young kids are going to even think of it. (On a side note, had supper with my daughter and her husband, and my grandson had to show me his P-40 Warhawk model he and his father had made yesterday. But, they were thinking of my interests more than their own. Grandson told me his dad bought it for him last week for $15.00, a toy his dad’s dad bought for son-in-law 40 years ago for $1.50.) See what I mean about cost? Son-in-law doesn’t make that much an hour nowadays, so how will he be able to afford an education for his son to actually get a job where he could enjoy that interest, affordably, when he grows up?
    Now the politicians want to do away with manned flight, and have people travel the world in oversize sardine cans, piloted strictly by a computer, so there is even less interest in people actually flying themselves between point A and point B.
    Until we can get a consensus of opinion, and actions to support that, and get costs back into the world of reality, I see no real future for GA. Sounds pessimistic, but I consider it more realistic nowadays. (I still love flying, just can no longer afford it, on a retiree’s salary, and having to help support the next two generations.)

  29. Carter Boswell says

    Nobody can argue the necessity for reform in every facet of general aviation but none of that can take place without changing the mindset of everyone…

    So my question is…what is the difference in mind set from those in years past vs. today?
    The difference is that when I was young I saw myself being able to travel from my community to another city, by air. I would avoid all the traffic, hurdle high mountains, oceans etc. Today its considered too expensive, (which is correct), and not a realistic dream due to old technology.
    So how do we make our youth “want” to become pilots, the way we used to. Simple, make their cars FLY. Now wouldn’t that be cool! All of sudden if that took place every kid in America would want to learn to fly. You’d have kids, and adults, lined up outside the flight schools, and all of a sudden unleaded regular, without ethanol, would be commonplace at airports, gas stations etc. The economy of scale would drive down the price of all the parts due to thousands of flying vehicles made per day.

    The FAA would have to adjust their geriatric behavior, because changes to this technology would overwhelm them, as it does now.
    The FBI, CBP, FAA, DOT, TSA would come down hard. After all the buracratic mindset couldn’t cope with this new Freedom. But the young would rebel and put them in their place. Which is the natural order of a society that’s being oppressed. We see it everyday taking place all over the world.
    So lets ask kids what they want. Did you old fogies forget to do that? Do they want to learn to drive a car or one that drives and flies? If they want one that can do both then lets give them that. New lightweight materials are now available, as are FBW(Fly-By-Wire) systems that are dirt cheap. Many of these system already in your cars.

    Reliable new engines are available, computerized FEA and CFD are cheap compared to yesteryear. This should be our gift to our youth, the ability to unshackle them from earths surly bonds.*for a lot less money than now.
    This is all doable now.

    *High Flight quote.

  30. Al Edwards says

    Fast track the check ride and requirements.
    Rules and Regs should be taken back to the 1980’s level.
    Make the process enjoyable.
    GA was private a long time ago, but not now, It’s too much Government involvement now.

  31. Tom says

    Len,

    I never met you and I don’t think I have ever seen one of your articles before, but I love you anyways. Having said that, I disagree with almost everything you have said. It takes courage to care, especially about something we all love, but I don’t think your ideas are going to work. AOPA has clearly demonstrated to me that this very same initiative they tried just two years ago isn’t working. Frankly, you are just rehashing stuff everyone already knows. Nobody here is saying “yeah, we need more pilots, good idea”.

    So naturally, you are probably saying to yourself “ok smarty pants what would you do to solve the problem”. Well you are in luck because I have .02 cents to share today.

    In no particular order.

    First, let’s all agree that the cost of flying is prohibitive for the average blue collar joe. We are forced to target people of wealth and that’s not working.

    Second, nobody is able to answer the one question that needs to be answered. What do you do after you earn your license? What’s my mission? “What is the purpose of having a Private Pilot license?”. Why should I fly after earning my license. This is the biggest problem in my opinion. The average person can’t do anything with there license after getting it. They’ve budgeted for their license but now do not have enough money to do anything with it. We need to be able to answer this question. Not everyone is going to the airlines.

    Next, general aviation is not private aviation. Have you looked at AOPA’s magazine lately? I can’t afford anything they are advertising. AOPA doesn’t resonate with me anymore, I don’t know who their customer is but it isn’t me. They don’t speak my language anymore, but EAA does. Private aviation doesn’t have anyone advocating for it except maybe EAA.

    And speaking of magazines, have you looked at them lately? Nothing but death, doom and gloom. Enough of the stories about people crashing, about the dangers, etc.. I’m tired of reading about it. Stories about death and destruction are stupid and shouldn’t be part of a magazine that is freely available on the newsstand. Trade in the death and crash stories for more exciting stories that might attract someone. Today’s millennial doesn’t want to here about old war stories and etc.. so let’s knock it off.

    Next, we need to expose these companies like Redbirds for what they are, bad for the Private aviation industry. Who really thinks its a good idea to train private (student) pilots in simulators? It’s silly. Get up in the air and fly. See a sunset, get rained on. Learn in the air. I think it is ridiculous to train student pilots in redbird simulators. This is nothing but a cash grab to take advantage of a faulty, failing system. I think the sim has some value for IFR work, but very little.

    Let’s declare an end to 100LL and 100 octane fuel in general. Are we really going to keep flying airplanes that need this fuel? We are wasting our time looking for alternatives so lets stop doing it. When will enough be enough, $10/gallon? Let’s do this instead- Either our part 23 airplanes fly on mogas with ethanol or they fly on diesel. Let’s just do this already, rip off the bandaid.

    Let’s let LSA aircraft fly IFR. This is the only reason I’m building a Van’s, I need to go IFR. If I could go IFR in an LSA, then all the sudden that 100K airplane looks a little more attractive and I would buy one. Let’s tell Cessna and Piper we don’t need them, go away and don’t come back, you are a dinosaur that does nothing but cause problems. If they wanted to they could build the 172 or warrior far cheaper, but they are not in the business of caring about private aviation anymore. The are a hindrance, a fly that needs swatting, someone should burn down their small airplane factories. We are better off without them.

    Next, as a pilot owner, I don’t want to share my toys. If I can’t own it 100%, then I don’t want any part of owning it in a club or fractionally. Sorry, but I want it for myself. If I can’t then I’ll rent.

    • Frank J. says

      Thanks Tom!
      You hit the nail in the head on many points. You are so right.
      I got my private in 1969 because I loved flying, but today, even with a decent retirement and a good standard of living, it is hard to have to pay $120 to rent an old Cessna 172 and to stay current. Trying to fly 4 or five hours a month to stay current, safe, and proficient represents $400 to $500 a month. I don’t know how much longer I will be able to afford that.
      I have brought up the issue of the magazine articles with other guys at the hangar on weekends…I am sick and tired of reading article after article on magazines about accidents and deaths…accompanied by graphics that reinforce the tragedies. Just like you, I can imagine what a non-flying person might think if they pick up one of those magazines at the supermarket and leafs through it out of curiosity. The whole idea of proficiency, currency and risk evaluation could be put across on the positive side of instruction.
      Oh yes! and the price of everything on the magazines! I don’t even open the Sporty’s emails any more. Take any product for an automobile driver at your local auto supply store and if it has any use in aviation, market it so and you can price it at four times what the car driver will pay.
      Thanks for saying it the way it is.
      FV

    • says

      For the most part, I agree with your letter, and would just like to add 2 more cents. First, on the new fuel they are dreaming up, we all know that the cost will end up being the same or most probably higher than today’s 100LL and therefore of no benefit when it comes to getting more people flying. Admittedly, I’m an “older” pilot having now flown for 53 years. Except for six years in the Air Force, my life has been spent flying one of 13 airplanes I’ve owned, and all of it just moving myself and family where-ever. I’ve never owned anything close to new, but at one time or another, I’ve burned regular gasoline in almost every one of them with no problems.(High test in the fuel injected one’s). It appears to me, they could develop a cheap additive that would satisfy the FAA and still be close to the cost of mogas at the pump.
      Secondly, on the point of getting new pilots, I think we should consider trying to create more flying organizations like International Flying Farmers. IFF was started in 1945 by a group of Oklahoma farmers who also owned airplanes. At it’s heyday, it boasted around 15,000 members, a chapter in every state, four provinces of Canada, and a chapter or two in Mexico. We have pictures of fly-in conventions with over 300 airplanes lined up in rows on a given airport. Our numbers are not much over 10% of the high now, the average age of the pilots are probably around 70, but we are a “family organization” where our children went with us, and many of our kids learned to fly in the family bird. The interest in aviation is as high as it was many years ago, and although I agree that I don’t want to share my airplane with people I don’t know, we have shared airplanes within the family unit for years. As an organization, we promote flying to the best of our abilities. We have scholarships for flying lessons, many of us provide Angel Flight services, etc. But the fact is, the cost of flying is the biggest killer of private flying and that is what we have to deal with before anything gets better. I also believe we all need to blast our Senators and Representatives to pass the bill allowing us to fly on a driver’s license. The bill that has been presented is even much better than the LSA limitations, and I believe it would put literally hundreds of grey-hairs back in the air. We know when we shouldn’t be flying and do not need a Dr. to make that decision for us. Many of us haven’t been flying for 50 years or so, and still are flying, by being stupid. Lastly, I believe the LSA revolution with airplanes(even new ones few can afford) that burn 4-5 gallons per hour of car gas will be extremely instrumental in salvaging private aviation.

    • Dietrich Fecht says

      Tom, and Frank J. too, you are 100% right. Each word of your posts is that what has to be realized. What you think and write has to be taken as an absolute signpost in what direction we should go. Perhaps we can not stop a deterioration of private GA anymore but perhaps we can mitigate negative developments. For me personally it is a bright stripe at the horizon to see that other fellow Pilots have realized the same big mistakes and shortcomings as I do since about 20 years. Your posts show me, we are not outsiders any more when we fight for a private aviation what a person with an average income can afford. The offers we see for aviation from screws to headsets to plane renting rates to fuel to new airplanes. All is not only a little overpriced, it is exorbitant overpriced. Overpriced from individuals, companies and organisations which want to earn a golden nose from the cash cow Aviation. I feel, we have to help ourselves to come to lower prices.

      Let`s think about founding a new organisation what sees private aviation not as a business to make money (what are huge salaries for staff and managers?). An organization what is satisfied with the safety level of today`s private flying.

      An organisation what offers much cheaper parts, airplanes and pilot licences. If we really want we can do it. With much voluntary work, with technology out of the auto market, with industrial parts (what have sometimes a higher quality than aircraft parts according standards from the 1940s) and with a new organisation owned non profit airplane and motor manufacturer in the U.S..

      Beginning with a four seat 350-500 hp, 200 KTS, 1000 Nm range aluminium VFR plane with auto engine technology and street vehicle gas for new $ 70,000 and IFR with extras for $ 90,000. For example perhaps produced in the area of Fort Myers, FL. With design resources from hundreds and thousands of EAA members or our new own organisation members. With voluntary production resources of the EAA chapters or our own new organisation. One chapter produces the nose ribs, an other the flap skins, the next the gear struts etc.. Some days ago I volunteered at our Ford Tri Motor event and I saw again how powerful and successful EAA chapters can be.

      • says

        Dietrich; Good luck! The very PROBLEM in trying to “socialize” GA is like attempting to solve Rubics Cube! “CASH cow” in aviation – boy, do you need educating!
        Small FBO’s and flight schools alike are failing right and left – I suggest to support your ‘”guess work” on the millions made in aviation – or are you that new to GA that you haven’t heard; want to make a million in aviation – start with two”?

  32. Frank J. says

    We can write all the articles we want, but it all boils down to COST, COST, and COST. Those of us that have had our private for decades and have jobs, good salaries and can afford a partnership are not the issue.
    The issue are those young kids in their late teens that would like to start flying and are looking at $120.00 an hour.
    In 1969 when I got my license I was working full time at Barnes&Noble in Manhattan, I was paying for my night school at Queensborough Community College, and was paying for my flight lessons at Teterboro School of Aeronautics at $12.00 for a Cessna 150 wet with instructor. Granted, I was single and lived with my parents, but anyone today in the same situation, even if they lived with their parents, could not afford to do the same thing.
    So, what to do? If you want to make flying a career there are plenty of schools and colleges to go to. They will give you the training and all the ratings you want but with a student loan that you will have to carry after graduation.
    But…and it is a big but…you want to fly for the joy of it as a hobby and you don’t have big bucks or wealthy parents you are out of luck.
    That is at that lower tier of GA where we are seeing the number of private pilots going down.

  33. JIM STARK says

    There are a couple of factors that above commentators have brush upon but need more focus: (1) The current GA pilot community is aging, and getting older pilots energized to promote our passion (flying) to follow on generations is difficult at best. It is hard to compete with the instant gratification in today’s electronic environment when it comes to the elderly communicating with those half our age or less. (2) Most of the GA pilots I know and fly with are depressed. Things have changed and most think for the worse. There are the obvious things like astronomically increased costs, horrific/over-bearing governmental regulations, and a fortress mentality ‘protecting’ our airports. How many of us remember renting a Champ or Cessna 150 for $7/hr wet? Or as preteens walking onto the ramp, wandering around talking to any and all pilots we could find? Is your ramp ‘protected’ by an 8′ fence and security gates, effectively locking those kids out? Bottom line: most of us older pilots are too depressed about the state of aviation to even remotely energize disinterested teenagers, especially given all the hurtles facing those teens in becoming pilots. If we are to ever bring the next generations into the circle we have to make it easier, less costly and less restrictive. Not one of those factors can be ignored.

  34. Ken says

    I thought, from AOPA stats, that there were less than 200,000 active private pilots nowadays. That is down 75% from 1980.

    Anyway, two things are vital. Fuel prices relief and the GA Pilot Protection Act. I dont hear enough rumbling from AOPA et al on getting the latter through Congress. They need to be campgaining……propagating….to get it passed.

  35. says

    RADAR IN THE COCKPIT: We could have had that YEARS AGO. Take AWOS on VHF for example. After the voice loop cycles, a tone data stream (identical to the old modems) could have been implemented which would contains the local radar WX image. It would
    last only a few seconds and the pilot would simply hear a tone. How would it display? Simple, a tiny device with a graphics screen would plug into the earphone jack and decode the tone burst to the radar image. THIS WOULD BE THE SAME RADAR IMAGE THAT YOU NOW WILL GET USING AN ADSB RECEIVER. COST for the little gadget: $25. Cost to the govt to implement the feature: maybe around $1000 per NWS VHF broadcast station. This technology was proposed years ago and simply ignored.

  36. says

    Len – Great Article! Your personal efforts and collaborative efforts with the Aviation Access project are very motivating and a great way to start tackling the problem with aviation. One of my very first Simple Flight Radio shows was about “What’s wrong with aviation.” At the end of the show, we concluded that nothing was wrong, aviation itself is still incredibly awesome. Thats the really exciting thing is that people like you, Aleks Udris, and many others are working on making something that is already great even better!

    One of my personal passions is flight education. Specifically educating the educators. There are so many was to make flight training more efficient, more rewarding and more satisfying. Right now there is a big dis connect between the delivered flight training product and the student’s expectations. Every pilot has to start out in flight training in order to become a pilot – sounds pretty obvious right? Its a CFI’s duty to make a great first impression on the student as an ambassador of aviation. The financial tone, value proposition and entertainment vibe of what aviation can be provided to the student has to be set by the instructor. Right now there is a lot of disconnect between what is delivered and how the student wants to feel. This is one of the causes of student pilot drop out rates.

    I am excited for what is to come with aviation. Aviation gets exactly what it wants out of us, we have to get exactly what we want out of aviation.

    Thanks Len for writing this!

  37. unclelar says

    I’m with Kent Misegades. All Ken gave us is the same old pap you hear almost every week. Just a lot of words with no practicality to it. Fuel costs are something we can actually so something about if our associations would get behind mogas alternatives. Most all of the training and recreational fleet could reduce the cost of flying substantially by burning mogas. All we need is a reliable supply of quality 93 octane non-ethanol fuel. It’s really that simple. OK, most will need an STC but that’s peanuts compared to what avgas costs. I am constantly amazed at why EAA and AOPA don’t get behind this. Liability is just a smoke screen as Kent has pointed out many times.

    • says

      Kent/Unclelar; Sounds to me this “Mogas” thing is more about BIG BUSINESS and our “donkie’s” in Washington being in “bed” together – never mind – I won’t go there!

      • PB says

        Not quite – MoGas cannot be used in most engines because it contains ethanol (water based alcohol) and is oxygenated. If the ethanol was no added and it was not oxygenated then 92 octane could be used in most GA aircraft right now.
        However, it would take another tank, another pump, government approvals, and so why should an FBO put up the extra money for the delivery system? It won’t be cheaper than 100 octane so the attitude is to keep using 100 octane.

  38. JD Casteel says

    I really enjoyed reading the article and the comments on this. The one area of the article just made me sick is the statement “In a culture where toddlers are often using iPads and video games have more computing power than the flight management systems on jets, it is going to be very hard to entice potential pilots with 1940’s technology”. I don’t argue the truth behind that! However I don’t agree with this mentality of conforming for the greater good of GA. I really like Rod’s comment, “They’re are a myriad of social and economic factors that have changed both the need and want for recreational/personal/ social aviation as we know it today. A major one is the MANY alternative choices for recreational activities (immediate gratification) that does not require the commitment and expense that obtaining a pilots license does”. I see this every day! I find myself more and more everyday fitting that castigatory!

    Nobody can argue the necessity for reform in every facet of general aviation but none of that can take place without changing the mindset of everyone… The FAA is made up collectively of people, the manufactures are made up of people, and guess who the buyers are…people. I don’t believe reshaping GA to “fit” our current mentality is the answer.

    So my question is…what is the difference in mind set from those in years past vs. today?

    • says

      Hi “JD”. and thank you for the compliment! Since you seem to apparently see the “common sense” and reality of GA’s plight, I think you’ll enjoy our, Mike Dempsey and myself, many blogs and articles, from a purely rational. unemotional and un-bias business perspective. Also, would love too “exchange” mail with you as an option – rodbeck@optimum.net – look forward in hearing from you!

      Oh, on your “question” of past VS today? How about motivation, i.e. reason or purpose for LEARNING and ultimately obtaining license?

  39. Kent Misegades says

    The author spells out the number one problem, the high cost of Avgas, but does not address this among his solution! MOGAS. What is so difficult about this? Look at Europe, where the crappy weather prevents flying six months each year, or more. Nearly all new piston engines and aircraft now come from Europe, they all burn mogas, and you can get mogas at most airfields, except the U.K. which is really backwards on this topic. Jeepers-Creepers, why do our vaunted do-nothing alphabet groups not do something to get lower-cost mogas on our airfields? No wonder G.A. in America is headed for extinction, given the lack of leadership at the alphabets ( the exceptions being LAMA and USUA ). Case in point – can anyone name Rod Hightower’s replacement as president of the EAA? No – they still do not have one. A ship without a rudder is doomed to crash against the rocks.

    • Len Assante says

      Kent, as you know I fully agree with you on the mogas situation and I count you as one of the “innovators” to whom I refer.
      I also see great potential for the alphabet groups to show leadership here -and I think they do as well. But I think so some extent the INDUSTRY itself needs to lead with way, with the alphabets advocating for us and shouting form the rooftops.
      PS. I have a mogas STC on my plane and use it whenever I can!

  40. Nate Wattier says

    While I believe many of you points are good I don’t really agree with how you represent you data. Just because the number if new airplanes is down doesn’t really mean anything as you cannot compare to the auto industry, as airplanes age better then autos. I wouldn’t buy any car from the ’80s, I routinely fly ’80s airplanes. Point being airplanes aren’t as disposable as autos. Those 2700 airplanes delivered in 2006 will be around for decades.

    On the topic of fractional ownership. While you are correct the prices of flying are astronomical even if you can reduce the cost of flying by 25% it is still a luxury. When it comes to luxury I expect my money to go to exactly what I want when I want it. This makes a small scale fractional ownership business model almost impossible. The types of people who make the amount of money to spend on the luxury of flying are in a short list of professions which tends to have normal business hours. So they work 9-5 Monday-Friday and generally want to sleep in on the weekends, thus the term weekend warrior. A weekend warrior won’t fly unless it’s less then 15kts and more then 2000′ ceilings. That just took your available fractional time way down, so how many beautiful weekends where I can’t get my airplane before I move on? Or is that the first thought that goes through my head and there is no way I will sign a contract on my second most valuable asset? NetJets may have made a workable fractional model but part of that is subcontracting, without that it won’t work. I currently have two clients one who owns a Mooney and one looking to buy one. It would be great if they went into a partnership as one flies weekdays and one flies weekends. One of them has a second home where he spends three months, so it’s a deal breaker. These are two people who otherwise don’t need to own a whole airplane but the convenience is worth the investment.

    Please don’t wholly blame the FAA for the added expense, they really have nothing to do with the fact a brand new Cessna 172 costs $270,000. I believe the blame should wholly go to tort laws. A new 172 should be base price of $100,000 or less, of course if we were comparing it to auto technology it should be more like the price of a new Chevy Malibu. Alas that will only get worse.

    So how to get new pilots, first technology needs to be less emphasized in articles and publications. Recent airline crashes should be used to show how you must first learn how to fly. A VFR Cessna 150 (I’d say J-3 but trying to be realistic) should be everyone’s first airplane. It is 100x easier to teach a new pilot in that then a G1000 C172. After all you are looking outside. Next the starting salaries need to go up to a point that is livable and not living with your parents livable. The elusive tort laws have to change. Investors have to stop being so free with their money when it comes to aviation, there have been so many failures it has made it too hard for the good businesses to shine. What I mean by this is the amount of money that went into Liberty Aircraft and the XL-2, could have gone to something that could have actually done something good. Jane’s Encyclopedia has way too many examples of this. A new law saying no more 121/135 and whatever part it is for new manufacturers. All existing certificates are it, if you want to start something new you wait until another sells or goes under. Have a great idea you better sell it to Cessna. That would go a long way in stopping the stupid, may put a damper on innovation but investing in aviation can’t be such a gamble.

    All I have time for but Alex asked for my opinion. Sorry if my thoughts are a bit broken working on a 13hr time change.

  41. says

    Hello Len,

    My name is Swayne Martin, I am a 17 year old Private Pilot that might have some light to shed on this from the perspective of someone my age. I just today passed my PPL Checkride, after about a year of training, finishing with 40.9 hours total training time. I founded the website “From Private to Professional Pilot,” you can read through the site for details about my training, experience, and goals in the industry.

    I believe the demise of GA is more simple than anyone here has suggested. It all comes down to this: There are not enough people my age and younger who are able and willing to becoming pilots for a variety of reasons. A few are below:

    1.) Aviation has become intimidating for young and aspiring pilots: On first glance, many see a world of complex, aging machines, with aging pilots who fill the FBOs. The conservatism and stagnation of GA is detrimental because my generation is used to rapid change. Think about technology. In the world I’ve grown up in, there is a new, faster, stronger, smaller computer or smartphone being released nearly every day. My generation loves change and loves having the ability to adapt, something which quite a number of conservative aviators are not willing to do.

    2.) Stagnation: As I said before, there is not enough change in GA, whether it be teaching techniques, technology, aircraft, etc. For someone my age to come into an airport to take a lesson in a plane that could be 3 or more times as old as myself, is a very stagnant situation. If you’re going to teach students to fly in a new generation, for a new era, you might as well train them on aircraft that aren’t from the 1960’s. I compliment Aleks and the Boldmethod team for developing new ways for students to understand aviation weather information and beyond. Their websites are EXACTLY what people my age need more of. I know this may be hard for older pilots to hear, but doing things electronically has been complete second nature to my generation. If resources online don’t develop well enough, younger aviators are going to have a very difficult time getting the information in ways that work for their learning styles.

    3.) Cost: This is inevitable in aviation, it’s just so expensive. There was a point in my training that I nearly had to stop because of the financial burden it was putting upon my family. There has to be a better solution to this in GA. Making planes more efficient, repairable, and cost-effective would have a great deal to do with this.

    4.) Role Models and Inspiration: (This may seems obvious) Because there is a lack of teenage pilots flowing into GA, there is a lack of inspiration for the next generation of pilots. This is why I chose to make my training and experiences (the good, bad, and ugly) completely transparent online, so that maybe I can show a few aspiring pilots what training is really like, showing the exact steps I am taking.

    My contact information can be found on my website and associated pages.

    Hope this sheds some light, thanks for reading,
    -Swayne Martin
    http://martinsaviation.blogspot.com/

    • says

      Hi Swayne; As an “iod man” (71st year) and having both the enthusiasm and determination you have – God bless you. Hovever, I think a MAJOR point, with the “young” is that of FUTUREincome and FINANCIAL serurity OUTSIE (other) field/occupations where the educatioanl investnent is less risky (for you and the parents?)
      tahnthe huge expens eof a 4 year aviationn sceince degree coupled with flight training. My advice: consider the “what if” factor – another words, IF you don’t see a “piloting ” career in your LONG term future – have an “alternate- just like good prudent flight planning -which you already know. Besides FLYING, what else “turns you on” – sales/business, engineering, computer technology, teaching (other than CFI) as examples. thisis IS your “what if” factor – your covered!

      Lleat RISKY “plioting” gigs: Military,(armed Services

    • says

      Swayne, send by “accident” prematurely and un-edited! – continued: armed services FAA, or ANY government spot. In the alternative; non-flying , BUT “close”; airport operations, corporate (large)FBO mangement, etc. BEST TO YOU -LOVE YOUR SPIRIT!!!!!

  42. says

    Len,

    I stand right behind you on everything you said.

    Points one and three, growing more pilots and being willing to change, strike me the hardest. I’m 35. In the aviation world, that’s young. To many of my customers, that’s old. I earned my private pilot certificate in a 1973 Cessna 172 with a flight instructor who few Thuds in Vietnam and Boeings for Continental. He taught me for free, and I paid $45 an hour for the plane – wet. To cut costs further, I washed it regularly. Lucky for me, it always needed it.

    I’m not sure we’ll ever see those days again – for a lot of reasons. We need to move on.

    I took my dad to a Shelby museum here in Boulder. The cars were immaculate, with hoods popped and race histories on display. Dad knew the engines, the parts, the drivers – he even knew the standard paint colors for each of the years.

    There was a group of Boy Scouts in the museum at the same time. They looked horribly bored. The troop leaders, on the other hand, were captivated.

    If we want to excite new pilots, we need to reach them in a new way. My dad looked at the engineers from Ford, GM, and Chevy as idols. You won’t find that in someone under 30. They’ll look to Tim Cook, Bill Gates, Sergey Brin and Mark Zuckerberg.

    We need to meet them where they are – which may be online. We need to show them what flying can do – with pictures and movies taken from our airplanes. We need to show them why this is exciting. The movies once did that – Top Gun and Memphis Belle inspired a generation of pilots. Hollywood doesn’t glorify aviation anymore. That’s fine – the younger generation isn’t in the theaters – they’re watching YouTube.

    I have few ideas on how to fix fuel prices, aircraft prices, or regulatory issues. Most of them are probably wrong. I do know that two of my friends work with the FAA – one as an ASI and one as an analyst. Both are as passionate about aviation as I am, if not more. Both want it to grow.

    If there’s one thing I’m sure of – without reservation – is that throwing 50 year old books at students doesn’t work. Asking them to read 600 pages of technical manuals doesn’t work. Watching 30 hours of video doesn’t work.

    If we change the way we meet new pilots, if we reach them where they are, they’ll engage. With time, they’ll join us in the maintenance shops and at the pancake breakfasts.

    Things don’t change at once. They move in minute, nearly invisible increments. It’s like watching the space shuttle inch towards the launch pad. If you don’t already have a part to move – try moving a new pilot. In a way, they’re all of our customers. Instead of them looking to us, we need to be looking to them.

    Aleks

  43. Jay says

    I continually see articles where well informed authors cite in the area of 50 to 75 flight hours per year for recreational pilots. On which planet? I never miss the opportunity to ask a mechanic what he sees. 15 to 30 hours is typical with many indicating less than 10. Unless your talking about students of one type or another, 50 to 75 is the exception and not the average.

    • says

      Hi Jay,
      Forgot about those numbers in my earlier response.
      I have “classified” TWO category’s of recreational pilots:
      1. Recreational – “partial”-utility – 50+ hrs annually
      2. ” “social”- non-utility – less than 30 hrs annually
      This would NOT include LSA/Private students.
      I think your “numbers” are pretty accurate!

  44. says

    In all do respect to Mr. Assante, and his noble and idealistic plight to “fix” GA’s (mainly recreational), is as you, ManyDecadesGA, eluted to, is not in touch with reality.
    As I recall. Mr Assante’s “other life” was/is in the field of education. “These folks” (a donkey for a pet?) are often at “odds” with the business/capitalist community – at least in my parts!
    That said, I’ll predict, with some degree of reasonable certainty, that the recreational segment, and THAT’s what we’re talking here, will, in the years to come, become a QUALITATIVE industry and NOT a quantitative one , which many believe it is now or may be in the future.

    They’re are a myriad of social and economic factors that have changed both the need and want for recreational/personal/social aviation as we know it today.
    A major one is the MANY alternative choices for recreational activities (immediate gratification) that does not require the commitment and expense that obtaining a pilots
    license does.
    And we could go on and on.

    Legal (FAA, etc) constraints; forget it – ever try to move a “jackass” (sitting down*) or a bull elephant?
    * presently one was sited in the DC area!
    Best of luck to you, Len!

  45. ManyDecadesGA says

    While Len, you raise valid points, those aren’t the essential root causes of the demise of GA.

    Both FAA and our legal system have been making it nearly impossible for GA to survive, let alone thrive, making it onerous and unnecessarily expensive to build, own, and fly airplanes, for generations now. And that was even before the past two decades high cost of fuel.

    From FAA chasing excellent experienced pilots, and CFIs, and mechanics, and OEMs, out of the system in droves, by flawed and overly complex and unnecessarily restrictive criteria, to a completely dysfunctional, obsolete, and outrageously expensive ATS system, that no one (even the airlines) can afford for the long term, our government is simply killing GA. Poor FAA policy choices for decades, such as the 1500 hour pilot requirement, Body Mass index, ADS-B equipage rule, obsolete WAAS, airspace wasting LPV, difficult CFI renewal process, eAPIS and impossibly difficult simple border crossings to places like Canada, STC maintenance or phaseout pressure, convoluted and ineffective new flight and duty rules, DER nearly impossible renewal criteria, unnecessary ADs, and impossibly complex, expensive, and unnecessarily time consuming criteria to have to meet for pilots, mechanics, and aircraft manufacturers, ….even long recognized by efforts in RTCA (e.g., TF4), are having the net result of simply collapsing GA. As old airplanes and pilots leave the system, FBOs collapse, then airports collapse. So if Cessna, Cirrus, or Piper thinks that someone is going to now blow $300K on a C172, or $600K+ on an SR22, or a $1M+ on a Seneca, to fill the increasing old airplane phaseout gap, to save GA, …and then have FSI or E-R think someone is going to pay $15,000 to $100,000, to learn how to fly them, they’re just nuts. Without massive and sweeping change at FAA first, except for a few thousand BizJets for which money is apparently still no object, what we’ve known in the past as GA for 70+ years, is just going to be a distant memory.

    • Greg says

      ManyDecadesGA – 1 question and 1 comment for you: 1) “convoluted and ineffective new flight and duty rules”…at the moment, 14 CFR 117 only applies to 121 carriers, therefore nothing has recently changed in terms of flight and duty rules for any other parts (135, 91K, 91, etc. (aka General Aviation)). 2) “difficult CFI renewal process” I don’t understand this comment. Please explain why you feel the current CFI renewal process is difficult. There is currently a 4-month window to achieve renewal and there are numerous different methods one can use to achieve the renewal requirements.

      • Bill says

        Bill says:

        I think that if the legislation that is proposed to make it easier to get a medical would pass there would be a greater number of active pilots immediately. Once a person is refused a medical he drops off the active list and probably will not return. People driving cars with medical problems cause more accidents than pilots would.

      • james says

        Todays my birthday been flying since 1968 ( paid for every certificate on my own with a little VA help) mostly for my own business use even had a charter business with a T-Bone(it really was economical when gas was a 1.25/gal) for Bahama travel.9-11 put me out of business and when my construction business went broke in 2009 with the economic collapse I was done,no plane no money.I thought I might become an instructor teach the kids from all my years of experience,but its not practical with the cost to learn outrageous,fuel @$6/gal and the manufactures have done it to themselves on the cost of new planes obscene prices .Maybe rehab old planes with new glass ,online training classes maybe you can save GA as I knew it .To be honest I love GA and will still fly until I go West and will always pass along the love of this passion but when us old timers are done it is done.

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