Warning signs in FAA forecast

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The recently released forecast by the FAA for 2014 to 2034 is generally upbeat for aviation, but when digging into the big report it had a picture not so rosy for much of general aviation. This should send an alert to GA’s alphabet groups and those in the industry to rev up their programs.

FAA officials started cautiously: “The long term outlook for general aviation is favorable, even though the slow growth of the U.S. economy, contributed by uncertainties caused by a debt ceiling crisis, sequestration, government shutdown, and the European recession, have affected near-term growth.”

Growth over the long term is seen primarily in business flying. According to the report, that means turbo-jet, turboprop, and turbine rotorcraft.

Between 2010 and 2012 — the latest statistics that fuel the report — the number of active general aviation aircraft went down by 6.4%, from 223,370 to 209,034. These numbers are from active aircraft, not total, FAA officials point out.

Over the next 21 years, the FAA says the active fleet will increase at an annual rate of 0.5%. If true, in 2034 the general aviation fleet will be 225,700, only 2,330 more aircraft than four years ago.

The number of piston-powered aircraft — including rotorcraft — is projected to decrease at an average annual rate of 0.3% from the 2013 total of 141,325 to 131,615 by 2034. The decline is both in single and multi-engine fixed-wing aircraft. The smaller category of piston-powered rotorcraft is seen as growing at 1.7% a year.

Single-engine fixed wing piston-engine might show a loss annually at a rate of 0.4%, with multi-engine making a dropoff of 0.5%.

Starting in 2005, a new category of aircraft, which were previously not included in the FAA’s registry, was created: Light-Sport Aircraft. Until 2012 this category was reported in FAA statistics as a separate category. At the end of 2012, a total of 2,001 active LSAs were estimated in this category. The forecast says this category will grow to 4,880 by 2034. Agricultural aircraft —crop dusters — have seen rapid growth despite complaints by some that spraying crops is bad for the environment.

With business flying increasing, the number of general aviation hours flown is projected to go up by 1.4% yearly.

The number of general aviation pilots (excluding air transportation pilots) is projected to increase by 35,000 over the forecast period. That’s an increase of 0.4% yearly. The number of commercial transport pilots also is expected to increase. That’s because of the recent change that requires co-pilots to have ATP ratings rather than commercial licenses.

The number of active general aviation pilots is projected to be 484,425 in 2034.

The number of commercial pilots also is expected to increase, going up from 108,206 in 2013 to 122,000 in 2034.

All of these statistics show one point: The number of people using a general aviation aircraft for something other than business is small and getting smaller. The number of GA pilots projected for 2034 is woefully small. In the early 1960s, four manufacturers — Beech, Cessna, Piper, and Aero Commander — were selling more than 1,000 aircraft a month. Last year, more companies than that sold far fewer single-engines aircraft in the entire year — just 933.

What caused this serious drop? Many things. GA has always been cyclical. After each boom there has been a bust. After World War II when so many men became pilots, there was a boom, followed by a decline. The most recent drop-off in pilots and aircraft came when manufacturers discovered they could be sued for damages over even little things.

Perhaps learning the story of Mr. Piper would be helpful. He had no aviation experience when he started. His non-aviation business partner made a small investment in the Taylor Aircraft Co. To protect that investment, Mr. Piper began taking a look at the company. Taylor and he were constantly at odds. Taylor thought big was better, Piper believed inexpensive was best — even the compass was an extra. Mr. Piper made and sold more than 20,000 of the original J-3s.

So what do you think: When FAA does its forecast next year, which way will general aviation be going?

Comments

  1. Christopher Walker says:

    Thanks for this report.

    I would ask you to consider this comment as somewhat incorrect: “The most recent drop-off in pilots and aircraft came when manufacturers discovered they could be sued for damages over even little things.” GARA allowed manufacturers escape confiscatory damages if there product was in production for more than 17 years. What this did is shift the liability to the owner. So those in the rental business are getting out of the business. Therefore your comment should read: “The most recent drop-off in pilots and aircraft came when aircraft owners discovered they could be sued for damages over even little things.”

  2. Mike Mac says:

    I solo’d in 1992, Now at 53, unable to find a career field or a job with a little medical coverage, I am in school to be an A&P and get my long overdue Pilots License and more. Why – Why not. I kept taking friends and family up for rides when the red biplane came to town. Yes I understand computers, technology and carbon fiber composites – hell I was there when it all started. I know fast been there too. What I want now is to fly over a field and smell wheat, the burgers on the barbeque, and wind in my face, or least not not recycled butt gas from 200 other passengers. I am looking for two wings, fabric, a little steel and a life of purpose. Help is long past due. Remember these organizations hire like minded people – 1st Problem = Change some rules, educate, get anyone you can into flying, we need the votes, dump big business, consolidation, any one that is not looking out for the little guy over the big guys with mega bucks.

  3. Elio Gaiottino says:

    Well, like europa, they increase fuel taxes, landing and take off fees and so on,
    general aviation in europa is almost gone, I really hope will not happen here in
    this beautiful Country.
    Elio.

  4. It all boils down to affordability. New aircraft prices start at $150K (the price of a decent house in many areas) and go progressively up from there. Used aircraft can be more reasonable but a bargain aircraft with a high time engine winds up costing its new owner big bucks within a fairly short period of time. Parts and maintenance can easily add several thousand dollars a year to fixed costs. Fuel costs twice the price of mogas. Renter pilots are paying $125 per hobbs hour if they choose to let somebody else bear the fixed cost.

    It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that the average guy has been priced out of flying unless he has a huge inheritance or an understanding spouse. The days of the $20K trainer like the C-150, Tomahawk, or Skipper have given way to the days of the $150K Skycatcher and all of the other LSA’s that go for $80K up.

    I feel fortunate to have purchased an aircraft during the days when they were still somewhat affordable. Now my concerns in my mid to late 60′s are more about maintaining a medical certificate and the big dollar repairs that are inevitable with older airframes. Each year I weigh whether to hang a for sale banner on the prop or to give it one more year. It’s not a matter of wanting to quit, its a matter of affording it on a pension and my life’s savings.

    I believe that if the cost issues can be addressed, you’ll see a revitalization of GA flying for non business purposes. Pilots and would be pilots want to fly but if they can’t pay the bills for food and shelter because the money is needed for aviation, they will skip aviation and pay their bills.

  5. The consensus is pretty clear on the culprits: Fuel cost; FAA complexity and cost of ADs; 3rd Class Medical. I would add product as a problem – a lot of olde tymers will disagree, but as someone who came to aviation three years ago at age 49, my initial reaction to the typical training airplane was shock. A C172 was a fine plane fifty years ago when the B707 was new, but a steam gauge putt-putt is a poor place to start learning to fly in the age of GPS and smartphones. The U.S. Air Force is using Cirrus 20′s as their main line training platform… my local flying school is replacing Cessna with Cirrus… it only makes sense to attract modern guys AND girls with modern equipment. The old guard can piss and moan about maintain the “purity” of 1950′s technology, but all those old dudes will be gone in 20 years, along with GA as we know it, if something radical does not change.

  6. Melvin Freedman says:

    Yes the faa is a problem. I do believe that oversight and airworthyness are #l, but at my age and a pretty good memory I know that the faa needs a overhaul. but, unfortunatley there is not a political in DC that will take them on.

  7. J. Sheridan/60yrs Pilot/Chicago says:

    Cost are out of control, FAA makes flying more difficult , new airplane cost are 50% to much and wages for Aviation people are far to low, we GA pilots are underpaid along with mechanics. Problem is we need better wages and the middle income customers need better paying jobs to pass along to our Industry. This stuff cost bucks and we are not making the grade. Its that simple!

  8. Lots of factors here. Certainly, fuel is one of them. I dont have much hope is this newly developed fuel to replace 100LL. I was hoping they would move toward more mogas options. The problem is: few airports offer mogas. I am afraid the new fuel will be even more expensive.

    And yes, the FAA is another problem. We are hoping that Congress will fix the medical issue for private pilots which the FAA has used to wage war on general aviation for years.

    Then, there is greed. FBOs are cooking all kinds of fees. Fuel service fees. Landing fees. Hanger fees. Bathroom fees. And this is short sighted. All it does is discourage the business they depend upon, but yet it still happening. Many FBOs are charging way more for the fuel than they need to. Anytime you find 100LL for $7 a gallon and then find it 20 miles away for $5 a gallon, greed is at work. Both locations are probably paying the same raw cost. The only difference is the markup.

    As if all that weren’t enough, aircraft parts are out of sight expensive. Ridiculous. Again, short sighted manufacturers discouraging the business they depend upon.

  9. Thanks for an article telling us what we already know.

  10. Exactly what the FAA wants. Fewer hobbyists cluttering up the skies. Gotta make room for those paying flyers. Can’t afford to pay those ATC guys to talk to us for free!!

  11. What the FAA conveniently omitted was the impact of ADS-B expenses upon the low-cost antique flying public. Those are the guys that drive 12 year old cars, pump regular gas and own 50 year old planes. Does anyone in FAA land really believe the owner of a $25,000 plane will pump another $6K to be ADS-B compliant?

    My guess is that 30,000 planes over the next six years will be parted out because they cannot be sold.

  12. Dr. Jonathan Wilson says:

    It would seem that the main cause of a fall in private GA flying is rising costs. These costs are in the maintenance of an aging fleet and in the cost of fuel in particular. For the private GA flyer these costs must come out of after tax dollars.

    However I would suggest that there could also be a political factor involved. I did most of my flying in Europe before coming to the USA. It was particularly noticeable to me that the tax structure on Avgas, over the years, moved progressively from level pegging with similar taxes to outright punishment. The political reckoning being that those who fly privately are capable of being milked more than others in the economy. Added to which GA private pilots were a relatively small voting group and therefore did not have the clout to prevent such coercive abuse.

    Of course, as the price of Avgas rose, pushed ever upwards by the tax structure, those flyers on the margins began to fall away and as demand for Avgas fell the production costs rose and taxes were ratcheted up to compensate for the fall in total tax take. Result? More flyers at the margin fell away. And so a wholly unnecessary vicious cycle of degrading of the private GA industry in Europe took hold. The end result of $14 per gallon Avgas in Europe means that the value of a Cessna 421C is now counted in the equivalent weight of beer cans.

    This may sound unnecessarily political but it seems to me that GA private flyers in the USA must not become milch cows for those driven by very misplaced envy – if that happens private GA flying in the USA is over as it is in Europe. The flying industry will be structured purely for business and commercial aviation. And that would truly be a tragedy.

    Jonathan

  13. Jim Rice says:

    Hopefully the FAA was standing in front of a mirror talking to themselves when they made this announcement. The FAA IS THE PROBLEM, not the solution for General Aviation. It is well past the time for reform. The Small Airplane Revitalization (passed/law) and GA Pilot Protection (pending in both house/senate in identical form) Acts are steps in the right direction by Congress. Once passed, FAA must be held accountable.

  14. When I first got into general aviation it was expensive. An hour in a used 172 was $28.00 wet. My salary at the time was $11 an hour, you can do the math. Now my salary is $28/hr and the cost for an hour of rental in the same 172 is $130/hr. plus fuel. 10 gallons at $6.50 a gallon is $65.00 so my all up for a 1 hr flight is $195+. While my salary has slightly more than doubled, the cost of flying has almost quadrupled!!
    Debate all you want, but facts is facts! Fuel must come down, and airplanes must get cheaper or salaries must triple in order for GA to prosper. I don’t see it happening and apparently neither does the FAA. Of course their mandate is to insure flying safety so getting those annoying private pilots out of the air works in their favor….
    $300,000 for a new 172?!? Get real!

  15. James Hays says:

    The FAA is doing everything in their power to make sure this happens.

  16. It costs me about $1100 to fly my PA-34 Seneca II from Stuart FL to Plymouth MA. and the same to return. I can fly commercial ( not nearly as fun) for about $350 avg. (sometimes much less). In 2004 my wife and I took a trip around the country in another PA-34, fuel for that trip cost $5000 for 59.9 hours of flight. The Avg cost of Avgas was $280 /gal. At today’s prices fuel for such a trip would be in the $12,000 range. Add in the centralization of wealth in the country and the double digit loss of good paying middle income jobs that used to be able to even dream of such a trip and the reduction in private pilot flights and such adventures is easily understood. Sadly there is no end in sight for jobs or the price of avgas. Private flying as a recreation or option to other types of travel is screwed.

    • Dr. Jonathan Wilson says:

      Good comment!

      I would appreciate it if you could dig out the proportion of tax in $2.8 /gal Avgas price in 2004 and the proportion at today’s price.

      Thanks

      Jonathan

      • melvin Freedman says:

        Hey, jonathan, I am 84, and I remenber those storys of doc in twins. Keep current in your single eng out trng.

        • Dr. Jonathan Wilson says:

          I work at it all the time!

          But you raise the very important point that one of the leading indicators that private GA flying is getting too expensive for one’s personal finances is when the number of instructor mentored training flights begins to fall away.

          The solution lies n the tax structure of fuel and the allowances that can be deducted by the private GA flyer. AOPA should be lobbying hard along tax lines as that is the route to not only saving the national resource of private GA flying but also its revival.

          Jonathan

          • melvin freedman says:

            jonathan, I guess you know that aopa was formed by docs. I hope, mybe that you can tell me or not if you check it out that aopa and the ama continue to lobby for the 3rd class med I was a mbr of aopa fr over 40yrs. I put that to aopa chief Boyer in early 70 ‘s and he ran. By the way, a very capable writer, writing for aopa published an article exposing this issue, and he never made the next mo issue.

          • Dr. Jonathan Wilson says:

            Hi Mevyn

            I really am the new boy on the block here in the USA and I unfortunately do not know all the details of the issue that you raise. I hope to learn about them though.

            Jonathan

          • melvin freedman says:

            Thanks, my anger is, that in 92 I had bypass surgery, and I was 62 at the time, well its 20 yrs later. Had 2 waivers and threw in the towel. You see that then I had to wait until I was on medcare to afford the medical. My insurance co wasn’t going to spend $ on a cardic eval 6mos after they gave me new arteries.

  17. Gat alcohol out of mogas. And the FAA and the 3rd class med out of the way and GA will take off.

    • Agreed!!!

    • Bernd Schroder says:

      DUH! It ain’t “rocket science!!
      The alphabet groups need to stop making nice with government.
      The EAA/AOPA medical proposal was absurd.
      If we have to wait for washington to make sense for pilots we might as well give it up now – AOPA: WAKE UP!

  18. tough to face, but we’re on the cusp of a new era. kida re disinterested in flying. why bothe? It’s difficult to learn, expensive to do, and for what purose? It’s far more interesting to do social media, play with flight sim, engage an very realistic compute game… and the number of pilots who will “graduate” from the military or commercial aviation is going way down. The future is in drones, not piloted aircraft. We better enjoy this botique recreation while it lasts. I don’t think I’ll think in long terms for my aviation investments.

    • Piloting an aircraft is hard – until you learn how to do it.
      It’s also expensive – so sacrifices are made.
      But there is nothing better than breaking out of cloud after a trip and seeing a runway in front of you – there is no more satisfying feeling.
      You apparently lack the passion that drives people to do this – in which case you should buy tickets on United and join the TSA queue and deal with it!

  19. Keith Wood says:

    GA has always been divided between the business and fun flyers.

    However, for the past 50 years, the FAA has seen the business flyers as their primary customer bace, and regulated accordingly. After all, when the costs are absorbed into corporate expenses and taken off the taxes, what’s another thousand or three bucks’ worth of mandates?

    When the expense goes up, and the regulatory Mickey Mouse increases, people who are looking for fun things to do tend to look elsewhere. There are plenty of options.

    Two things which will save fun flying are the bill in Congress to eliminate the 3rd Class Medical requirement for most GA pilots, and the law passed (but not yet acted upon) to give GA owners the ability to improve their aircraft with less regulatory burden.

    For instance, the installation of electronic ignition boosts engine reliability. One popular producer of these systems offers one for the O-200. To buy this unit for a Cessna 150 costs $1,500 more (nearly double the price) compared to buying the exact same unit for an experimental aircraft — and that doesn’t include the cost of having a mechanic do the (very simple) installation.

    Another example is the tendency of the FAA to issue Airworthiness Directives without considering the costs of compliance — or whether the AD offers any kind of solution whatsoever to the perceived problem. For instance, an AD issued in 1993 mandated that thousands of owners replace the venturis in their Marvel Schebler carburetors. Then it turned out that the new venturi hadn’t been properly tested, and caused so many power-loss incidents that the AD was rescinded. The millions of dollars that owners were forced to spend (a windfall for the manufacturer) actually made their aircraft LESS safe.

    Business flyers can take these costs off their taxes, but the family fun flyer can’t, and for many such things are forcing them out of GA.

    • Good point on the ADs Keith. That has been a real problem with the new FAA lately.

      Chris

    • Don’t forget the ‘new’ costs. $600 to a designee for a checkride. $250 to take the knowledge test. The FAA inspectors won’t do checkrides any longer. Adds to costs.
      Heck, most FSDOs won’t even issue a ferry permit, wanting to push us onto a DER. Another $600.
      The costs in this business have become nuts!

    • Johnnie says:

      The point is the FAA’S real mandate, is to do away with general aviation, not promote it as originally mandated when the government first formed the CAA. Their new task is to make way for drones! Drones will not be compatible with manned aircraft. It will be just a question of time before a drone collides with an airliner. Look at how much trouble lazers have caused. It would be foolish to think some screwball with a drone would not try to bring down an airliner.

      • melvin Freedman says:

        Hey johnnie, I guess I anm the only pvt pilot that ever flew formation with a rc toy, Yes it happened in the early 70′s, down wind in left hand pattern, in a citabra, lifted wg to check fr traffic, and guess what I saw, yes, an rc aircraft., not 20ft off my wg, and I am in a rag airplane. Called the tower and there was silence, and before I was ready to turn base, I saw a cloud of dust and a pickup heading for the dry lake across the road. Need I say more

  20. If I may, I will share my experience with sport flying and the difficulties (and joys) I experienced:

    I love aviation with a passion but, like many middle class citizens, the gap between income and cost of flying has widened so much as to make it difficult to continue flying for fun (well not quite as you will see at the end of this story).

    I owned a Mooney for 13 years having bought it back in 1999. Back then I could afford it and hoped to have airplanes like this for many years to come. However, when my plane needed an engine overhaul (and prop), costs for these services had doubled and my salary had essentially gone down (I’m a Design Engineer). Also, the aircraft storage situation at the local airport (major metropolitan area but with no alternatives nearby) had become absurdly expensive and downright hostile to small GA aircraft.

    So I had to sell my plane (at a great loss) and that was the end of large capable GA planes for me. Was it the fuel price that drove me out: No, the Mooney was fairly economic when it comes to fuel consumption. Was it the insurance: No, the insurance for the plane was actually ridiculously cheap. Was it FAA regulations: I just don’t know what that has to do with it. Regs for Light Sport aircraft are relatively low and they still cost a small fortune. The problem for me was simply the cost of the aircraft, maintenance and storage compared to the increase of my income over the years. Another thing that became a limiting factor was that a weekend outing with the plane had gone up in price considerably (hotels, meals, car, etc). The large and fast 4 seat airplane mission had changed to occasional local flights and it was simply not worth the expense.

    Now, does that mean that I am not flying anymore: far from the truth. When I sold the Mooney, I bought a small high performance two seat homebuilt. I am flying more than ever, costing me less in fuel than my cars, and simply enjoying the heck out of it. However, I understand this is not a solution for everyone because most people may not be the right type to buy used homebuilts and operate them safely. I also noticed that most people cringe when they look at the size of my plane (a LongEZ). But heck, I am flying and that is what I care about.

    Flying inexpensively is not for everyone. I really think that inexpensive sport flying is realistic for those who can deal with homebuilt aircraft or by proliferation of Flying Clubs. I remember back in the 80′s and 90′s when experimental aviation was in vogue. Wow, there were so many people flying and sharing their passion of flying that it was a blast. I really miss those days. I think that it was that way because people in this industry did it for the passion of it and not just the money.

    But as far as I am concerned, I really think that the USA is still one of the places in the planet were people can still fly for fun relatively inexpensively. Have you checked the price of car gas in Europe lately?

    And do I think that the Light Sport airplanes are the solution? Not for me. I can’t justify 100K plus for one of those neat planes and I don’t think most middle class individuals can.

    If I had to propose a way to increase sport flying participation I would encourage the creation of more flying clubs, possible rule changes encouraging flying clubs (liability, taxes, etc), and more active involvement of the EAA into the promotion of low cost flying alternatives (homebuilts, ultralights, gliders, Light Sport Aircraft for those who can afford it). Yes, the old days are gone for good, but it doesn’t mean you can’t fly anymore. We just need to go back to the roots of this sport and do it for the heck of being up in the air enjoying the view :)

    Chris

    • Experimentalist says:

      Chris, I was in a similar situation to you. I bought an old Mooney in the early 90′s, kept it 20yrs. In the early days of ownership fuel was $1.89 a gallon, we flew everywhere. It was great. Hanger cost was $135 month. I could afford it.

      However, over the years, I had difficulty getting the smallest upgrades (changing cockpit lights from old Grimes bulbs to small LED lights, no approval) couldn’t replace landing gear “biscuits”, Heim bearings, etc. I’m an engineer for goodness sake! I was held hostage by my local FBO for their maint only. I’m not going use non-aviation parts or procedures and endanger mine and my loved ones lives!

      So recently I sold it and bought a Van’s RV, more performance, better economy, loads more fun and best of all I can do just about whatever I want with it maint-wise, see FAR Part 43.1 (b.), (and excepting the condition inspection). Less regulation for Experimentals helps me offset the cost of $6.00+ gas and $300 hanger rent, for the same hanger.

  21. Until and unless there is real product liability tort reform, everything fun that uses equipment and machinery will be held hostage. There is no incentive for Congress to enact tort reform when Congress is dominated by lawyers. Tort reform is a mystical and mythical ideal just like term limits. We won’t see either in our life time.

    • Mark Schultz says:

      You are correct Bill. I am an AME, Family Physician, and GA pilot with a Commercial rating. I get it from all ends. Term limits , tort reform, and campaign finance reform would fix the vast majority of issues with our government.

    • I absolutely agree. Liability is the fear we all work with in this industry.
      More competent mechanics have left the industry because they can’t afford insurance.
      liability adds cost to every level and the likelihood of settlement encourages frivolous litigation.
      Imagine how cheaper a GA aircraft could be offered for if liability insurance could be stripped away?
      Limits on liability and awarding winner’s costs to a loser would transform the industry by lowering costs and encouraging more participants – but it won’t happen because lawyers in state and federal politics generally return to private practice when they leave politics and they return to suing people.
      It’s tragic. And I know that I’m preaching to the choir.

      • From what I can tell the biggest issue currently is the overhead costs added to aircraft parts to satisfy certification and liability. I am a private pilot and have always rented small Piper Cherokees or Cessna 172′s. I have always wanted to buy a small plane but my aversion to risk as held me back. I have heard many more stories of people losing money airplanes than making money. For some it is simply an expected expense, but for me renting works better. In research airplanes for purchase I noticed that for example, a 1970 model Cessna 172 will sell for around $35k-$45k. The cost to rebuild/replace an engine will cost nearly $25,000. So many airplanes become worthless when the engines need to be rebuilt. I am not a mechanic, but it would appear to me that replacing an aircraft engine would be less than $5,000 (about the cost of an automobile overhaul) if you took out the liability and certification overhead costs. The biggest challenge is economics. As others here have said, personal incomes have basically remained stagnant as flying costs have dramatically increased so fewer people can afford to maintain flying as a hobby. In the 1960′s the cost of a new airplane was not that much more than an average car. Today a new Cessna 172 goes for nearly $300,000, or 10 times the cost of an average nice car.

  22. There is no mystery. My airplane’s 160 HP Lycoming engine and thousands of others just like it can safely run on 93 Octane Non-Ethanol Auto Gasoline, which is currently selling for $3.55 per gallon in my area. If that fuel was universally available at airports we would all fly a lot more.

    • The actual cost of aviation fuel (to the seller) is not markedly different to auto fuel now – the oil costs the same, the refining process is the same. The lead is added into the truck and would not cost a lot per gallon. The oxygenation of the fuel is eliminated.
      Where the added cost comes is:
      a) flowage fees from counties – at Orange County, CA, the flow fee into the tanks is 26c a gallon, and from the tank to the truck is 26c. 52c total, and margins and sales taxes are added.
      b) small volume – consider the overhead and management cost of offering fuel, and spread it over the limited gallonage and it costs heavily
      c) reduced potential in that general aviation has diminished in this country, and seems likely to continue to shrink. Fewer pilots, fewer planes, and fewer gallons pumped.
      My opinion is that if low octane non-oxygenated unleaded fuel was offered that the cost would not be lower than you see now for 100 octane low-lead. Overheads, taxes, and limited competition add to the base cost and raise that $3.55 price across the board.
      Put another way – how to remove the cost from avgas is the challenge – will counties remove taxes? unlikely. Will gallonage volume increase? Unlikely since the only growth in GA is with UAV planes which use less fuel. Will the cost of running the fuel trucks decrease? No. Salaries for employees decrease when we see federal and state minimum wage levels being increased? No.
      I just don’t see room for reducing costs in the business, so whether the fuel is 93 unleaded or 100 octane low lead the retail price will be similar.

  23. Dennis McLain says:

    Good information.

  24. Get the FAA to ease up on the burdensome regulations and GA will prosper just like the LSA category is doing. The GA piston fleet also needs to demand cheaper fuel. I am convinced that if fuel was within 10% of car gas there would be a significant increase in flying. The last item to change is aircraft insurance. Not sure how to deal with that one.

    • General aviation has always been expensive. This has nothing to do with the government. The declining number of people who can participate in GA should not be a surprise given the declines in house hold incomes.

    • What do you mean LSA is prospering? Less than 4000 aircraft in ten years. An average LSA costs double a quality used 182. LSA is a failure, except when you listen to columnists who’s income derives from advertising dollars. LSA was a means to an end- corral the illegal Part 103 guys, it was never serious about increasing the future number of pilots.

      The real problem is not fuel cost either, that’s only a small marginal cost in flying.

      It’s not the medicals either, only 1 in a 1000 pilots who work with the FAA gets a final denial. Rare indeed is the young airman with a grounding condition.

      The real problem is the slow extinct of GA pilots. Most Kids are just not interested any more, and it’s not the money they are complaining about, it’s the lost perception of the”magic” the excitement and yes the studliness.

      • melvin Freedman says:

        Ira, when it comes to the 3rd class med you really have not experienced this, so you really don’t know. I have. , and so has thousands of pvt pilots.

      • Ira, I respectfully disagree. Even though the LSA sector is not selling a lot of airplanes or creating a lot of pilots, they have innovation! For example, look at this week at Sun & Fun. Glasair debuted a new LSA, while Cessna brings out another same old 182 that has been in production for ever with a different engine.

        The LSA flight time requirements for the LSA pilots license have also proven that people can learn the basics of flight in less than 40 hours and fly safely in VFR conditions and without a 3rd class medical. We should be training to proficiency anyway right?

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