General Aviation Future Uncertain

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					           General Aviation: Future Uncertain
                  Think back to when you were a fresh-faced kid staring into a beckoning sky,                                                                               GA bookends–Cessna Skycatcher and Citation X
               building the foundations of the passion for flying that has sustained your life
               since. The future of general aviation depends on reigniting that dream in younger
               generations, and all of us owe it to our roots to play a part in fanning the flames.
                  In this AIN special report, Matt Thurber looks at the factors at work behind
               the decline of general aviation since its heyday in the late 1970s–specifically the
               shrinking numbers of new-entrant and active pilots, and overly burdensome or
               unnecessary regulation–and their effects on the broader fortunes of the segment of
               flying that has traditionally been the first step for countless pilots and other aviation
               professionals gainfully employed today. Nigel Moll talked with a diverse cast of
               prominent figures and looks at the way ahead for reestablishing general aviation in a
               sustained rate of climb. The FAA predicts LSAs and business jets will lead the way.
                  The recent specter of user fees in the U.S. united the diverse elements of general
               aviation, from puddlejumpers to captains of industry, and they were able to seize
               victory from the jaws of the powerful airline lobby. General aviation’s tomorrows
               depend on staying united and nourishing the roots that all of aviation depends on.

                Table of Contents                                                                                          aircraft, the entire GA industry is inter-             Recently modernizing countries such
                 General aviation proves its value                                                           Page 22       connected and critical to the future of            as China and India seem to be figuring
                 Can general aviation reverse its decline?                                                   Page 23.      aviation and aerospace.                            out why their aerospace industries are so
                 What needs to be done to turn general aviation around                                       Page 26.         Before we look at some numbers, here            far behind the rest of the world, but in
                                                                                                                           is why GA is important:                            many other places, including the Mid-
                                                                                                                              Unlike almost every other country, the          dle East and even many European coun-

               GA proves its enduring value                                                                                U.S. has been building its GA infrastructure
                                                                                                                           from day one, when the Wright Flyer first
                                                                                                                           took a 12-second flight on Dec. 17, 1903.
                                                                                                                                                                              tries, so many restrictions against GA
                                                                                                                                                                              have resulted in not only hobbled GA
                                                                                                                                                                              industries but weak aviation industries
               by Matt Thurber                                                                                             GA infrastructure is everything needed             overall. The problem is that because the
                                                                                                                           for a healthy industry to prosper, includ-         leaders of these countries don’t recog-
                  General aviation is an extraordinary                   Shop helps with the next step, offering a         ing aircraft manufacturing, airports, pilots,      nize the benefits of GA infrastructure,
               industry with a terrible appellation. How                 free logbook and free online access to its        mechanics, FBOs (another weird GA mon-             they have attempted to build their avia-
               is it that the industry spawned by the                    pilot training course for Young Eagles            iker, but that’s another story), charter oper-     tion infrastructures from the top down.
               heroic efforts of the Wright brothers, the                fliers. The Aircraft Owners and Pilots            ators, suppliers and even the FAA.                 These countries might have strong airline
               industry that gave birth to the jewel of                  Association (AOPA), which developed the                                                              components, for example, but take a look
               the U.S.’s industrial might–the aerospace                 GA Serves America Web site, supports                    Developing Markets Look to                   at who flies their airplanes: mostly expa-
               industry–and the industry that includes                   a variety of programs, including lobby-                    the U.S. for a Model                      triates from countries that have stron-
               the magic of teaching anyone interested                   ing the government, a network of volun-               If it weren’t for GA’s infrastructure,         ger GA infrastructures such as the U.S.,
               how to fly, goes by the generic-sounding                  teer airport supporters, safety courses           the U.S. would not be the powerhouse               some European countries, Canada and
               term “general aviation?”                                  from the Air Safety Institute and a Pilots        that it is in aerospace exports. The past          other western countries. That is exactly
                  And why is there so much hand wring-                   and Teachers Handbook to help teachers            108 years of building that infrastructure          why your Emirates flight to Dubai or
               ing about “saving” general aviation (GA)?                 show how GA relates to secondary school           have led directly to the rise of airlines, the     Cathay Pacific flight to Hong Kong is
               Multiple efforts have been launched by                    subjects such as math, science, physics,          space industry, the growth of business             staffed by non-native pilots.
               various organizations trying to “save”                    history and technology. NBAA and the              jets, a huge network of charter operators,             Yet change is coming. China’s leaders
               GA. There is and www.                     General Aviation Manufacturers Associ-            thousands of airports–each with its own            seem to grasp that the reason the coun-
      Bob Miller, who                      ation (GAMA) jointly run the No Plane,            FBO–a relatively reasonable regulatory             try has no GA infrastructure is a result
               operates a flight school in Buffalo, N.Y.,                No Gain campaign, which “is designed to           climate and a country where the average            of the many restrictions that keep GA
               and publishes the “Over The Airwaves”                     educate the public on the importance of           citizen who can afford the cost can learn          business from flourishing. Chief among
               safety newsletter, has long fretted about                 business aviation to our country and its          to fly at a conveniently located airport.          these are restrictions on civilian use of
               GA’s poor safety record and how the lack                  communities, companies and citizens.”                 Despite new restrictions on foreign            airspace. The concept of a middle-class
               of quality training is holding GA back.                       The official definition of GA is all of       pilots learning to fly in the U.S., there          Chinese citizen taking the family Cessna
               The Experimental Aircraft Association’s                   aviation except military and scheduled            remains a keen interest in flight train-           out for a 700-yuan hamburger apparently
               Young Eagles program has introduced                       airlines. While this special report focuses       ing in the U.S. by non-citizens, primar-           seems foreign. And there is a notable lack
               more than 1.6 million children to aviation                primarily on the parts of GA that                 ily because of the lower cost of flying but        of small airports where interested citi-
               via a ride in a light airplane in an effort               include flight training, development of           also because of the relative freedom in            zens could learn to fly or hang out and
               to spark interest in aviation. Sporty’s Pilot             new pilots and generally piston-engine            the U.S. It is still possible, for example, to     watch small airplanes take off and land.
                                                                                                                           fly from New York to Los Angeles in a              The Chinese military has kept a tight rein
                                                                                                                           light airplane without talking once on a           on airspace, such that airlines stick to
                                                                                                                           radio or seeking permission from anyone            carefully carved-out routes and business
                                                                                                                           or having to file a flight plan with gov-          jets require days of notice for permis-
                                                                                          Small general aviation
                                                                                          aircraft, like this Piper Cub,   ernment authorities. For Americans who             sion to operate. This is no way to build
                                                                                          can give people a taste of the   fly in light airplanes, the freedom to fly is      a GA infrastructure, and there have been
                                                                                          magic of flying, and some        like the freedom to drive; no one can tell         signs that China’s government is loosen-
                                                                                          of those pilots eventually       you that you can’t drive to the supermar-          ing controls on Chinese airspace to allow
                                                                                          embrace general aviation as      ket and no one can tell you that you can’t         aerial commerce to occur in a smoother
                                                                                          a productivity tool or a rung
                                                                                          in their career ladder.          fly to Grandma’s house for the weekend,            fashion. (See article on page 16.)

                                                                                                                           provided, of course, that you meet licens-             Why is GA so important, especially
                                                                                                                           ing and airworthiness requirements (and            for countries that have yet to develop a
                                                                                                                           can afford the ever-increasing cost).              GA infrastructure?

               22aaAviation International News • March 2011 •
                                                                                                                                                    SPECIAL REPORT
    “General aviation is in a lot of ways       a million hours a year.                         AIRLINE PERSONNEL REQUIREMENTS
the feedstock of the entire aviation indus-        Craig Fuller, AOPA president and
                                                                                                Country                  Pilots                           Maintenance personnel
try,” said Ed Bolen, NBAA president and         CEO, added that GA “creates a lot of
CEO. “If you look at the airlines, flight       mobility for business purposes and mov-         Asia-Pacific                          180,600             222,000
departments, air traffic controllers at         ing cargo. Companies located in less            China (part of Asia-Pacific)           70,600               90,400
major airports and major airports them-         urban areas near general aviation airports
selves, you can draw direct lines from gen-     rely upon these aircraft. With the airlines     North America                          97,350             137,000
eral aviation forward.”                         reducing the number of cities they serve,       Europe                                 94,800             122,000
    Even major airports in the U.S. owe         the significance of the general aviation
                                                                                                Africa                                 13,200               15,000
their beginnings to GA. “If you look at         fleet is going to be more important.”
Chicago O’Hare [ORD],” he said, “which             Another way that GA contributes is           Middle East                            32,700               44,500

                                                                                                                                                                                              Source: Boeing
is arguably the world’s busiest airport,        innovation, according to Fuller. Many           Latin America                          37,000               44,000
that started as a general aviation airport      developments in satellite navigation, for
in the middle of an orchard. ORD was            example, stem from GA avionics that are         CIS                                    11,000               14,000
Orchard Airpark and it turned into the          far more sophisticated than is the tech-
world’s busiest airport. From general avi-      nology found in current airline cockpits.          While the subject of shortages of            assessment forecast noted a need for
ation beginnings an entire industry has            “I also think [GA] is a gateway for         pilots has come up repeatedly over the           466,650 pilots and 595,500 maintenance
been built. It ought to be understood that      people interested in aerospace and avi-        years, it is interesting that one of the com-    personnel over the next 20 years. And
pilot starts, entry-level maintenance jobs,     ation,” he said. GA serves as an entry         panies to express concern on this subject        this is just to fly and maintain projected
air traffic controller jobs, airports, that’s   point for not only new pilots but peo-         is Boeing. Boeing, in fact, is a tremen-         demand for new and replacement airline
all really the foundation that the aviation     ple who go on to careers in aviation and       dous supporter of GA, having purchased           aircraft. According to Boeing, “Airlines
industry is built on.”                          aerospace, he noted.                           two key companies in the GA market in            will need an average of 23,300 new pilots
                                                                                               recent years, flight data and trip planning      and 30,000 new maintenance personnel
           Quantifiable Value                             OEMs Are Infrastructure              provider Jeppesen and Aviall, the huge           per year from 2010 to 2029.” The assess-
    Bolen pointed out a factor that lies at        A key part of the GA infrastructure in      parts distribution company. Jeppesen             ment doesn’t take into account the needs
the heart of why so many countries have         the U.S. is the original equipment man-        also focuses on flight training products         of general aviation. But given the high
shortages of native-born pilots: dwin-          ufacturers (OEMs) that build many of           and is adopting Web and smartphone/              number of new airline pilots that come
dling supplies of military-trained pilots. In   the GA aircraft sold around the world.         tablet delivery mechanisms popular with          from the ranks of GA training schools,
the U.S., the majority of newly hired air-      According to GAMA, during 2009, for            the new crop of future pilots.                   the overall need for the worldwide avi-
line pilots learn to fly in GA aircraft, and    the first time, billings for exported GA           Boeing, obviously, has a vested inter-       ation industry will be far greater. The
about 80 percent of new-hire airline pilots     aircraft exceeded 50 percent of total bill-    est in making sure there are enough pilots       table above displays how Boeing breaks
come from GA backgrounds, accord-               ings. The number of shipments exported         to fly its airplanes. Last year, as part of      down the worldwide need for pilots and
ing to Kit Darby of Avia-          was 46 percent of the total.                   its annual market outlook, Boeing’s crew         mechanics during the next 20 years.      o
tion Consulting. That number used to be            The U.S. has a large fleet of active air-
reversed, with the greater portion having       craft, according to GAMA numbers. The
military flying careers before joining the
airlines, but there are far fewer military
                                                latest figures are for 2008 and include a
                                                total of 228,664 aircraft. This breaks         How can GA reverse its decline?
pilots available nowadays, and airlines         down as follows (note that these numbers
must find pilots somewhere. Other coun-         may change as the FAA works through                There are varying perspectives on Eagles meeting, where pilots took children
tries have tackled this problem by build-       cleaning up its registry files under new       whether general aviation (GA) is declin- for free airplane rides to encourage future
ing ab initio pilot training programs, many     reregistration rules):                         ing or poised for a renaissance gener- aviation interest, and was pleasantly sur-
of which are based in the U.S., but U.S.                                                       ated by new interest in light sport aircraft prised when a 45-year-old man stood up at
airlines have yet to adopt such programs,                                                      (LSA) and avionics technology. When the meeting and explained how the Young
                                                Active Aircraft U.S.
most likely because GA is supplying all the                                                    attending the annual EAA AirVenture Eagles program had stimulated his inter-
pilots that airlines need, at least for now.     Total                       228,664           extravaganza in Oshkosh, Wis., for exam- est. He was able to take a ride, too, and 18
    GA is also an important supplement           Piston                      163,013           ple, it is always interesting to see the con- months later was a pilot and six months
to airlines, supplying lift in locations                                                       trast between those who complain about after that bought his first airplane. High-
that airlines don’t serve or serve lightly       Turboprop                      8,906          the cost of flying and those who embrace tower said that this person wasn’t con-
and helping lubricate the wheels of busi-        Jet                          11,042           every new development.                        cerned about cost, but was able to learn
ness activity. Airlines primarily serve 70                                                         The way this plays out is that attendees to fly because his kids were through col-
                                                 Rotorcraft                     9,876
aviation hubs, according to the NBAA/                                                          at the annual “Meet the Administrator” lege. “He had the time and money to pur-
GAMA No Plane, No Gain Web site, and             Glider                         1,914          forum held by the current FAA Admin- sue his passion,” he said. “I’m sure there
more than 30 U.S. communities lost airline       Lighter-than-air               3,738          istrator sound off bitterly about over-reg- are many more of them out there.”
service during the past year. In economic                                                      ulation and rising costs of operation. Yet        While cost is an issue, Hightower isn’t
terms, business aviation contributes more        Experimental                 23,364           walk a quarter mile or so to the exhibition sure that it is an overwhelming problem.
than $150 billion to annual U.S. economic        Light sport                    6,811          halls and you’ll see 10-deep crowds sur- “In terms of real dollars, it’s no more
output and 1.2 million jobs.                                                                   rounding the avionics vendors and man- expensive today than when we were fly-
    Nothing demonstrated GA’s capabil-             These relatively large numbers of GA        ufacturers of the latest handheld GPS ing in the 1970s,” he said. “It’s about
ities like the Haiti earthquake last year.      aircraft and the thousands of airports         that come with optional approach plate tradeoffs. It’s my belief that if you want
GA aircraft were first on the scene and         that support GA operations in the U.S.         updates costing hundreds of dollars a to find a way, you can afford it.”
delivered tons of relief supplies and per-      are the result of the past 108 years of        year, and people are pulling out their wal-       Craig Fuller, president of the Aircraft
sonnel. One of the nominees for the             infrastructure development. Add to that        lets and buying these expensive products, Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), is
National Aeronautic Association’s 2010          the freedom afforded by the U.S. regula-       many of which cost the equivalent of 10 worried about the expense of flying. “The
Robert J. Collier trophy is “General Avi-       tory climate and a country where there are     to 20 hours of flight time.                   cost of aircraft and flying is a serious con-
ation: Saving Thousands of Lives in             few restrictions on the activities that peo-       While the numbers do point to a cern,” he said, “but there’s not a lot of ways
Haiti.” In addition, at last year’s NBAA        ple can enjoy, and the climate for a strong    smaller GA market, there are bright we can control that.” What he is more wor-
Convention the hundreds in the business         GA industry endures. And again, that’s         shoots. Rod Hightower, the new president ried about is that product liability insur-
aviation community who contributed to           why so many people come to the U.S. to         of the Experimental Aircraft Association ance costs are once again contributing
the Haiti relief effort were honored with       learn to fly. Not just for the cost savings,   (EAA), said, “I’m optimistic that there appreciably to the overall cost of flying.
NBAA’s Al Ueltschi Award for Humani-            but for the much more welcoming climate        always will be people who want to pur- The aviation industry was able to help leg-
tarian Leadership. More than 1,200 GA           for GA aficionados and for those inter-        sue flight and aviation both in terms of a islators enact the General Aviation Revi-
aircraft are used in Part 135 aeromedical       ested in developing skills needed for pro-     sport and as hobbyist and for business.”      talization Act of 1994, limiting product
operations, and these fly more than half        fessional pilot careers.                           Hightower attended an EAA Young 	                               Continues on next page u

                                                                                                • March 2011 • Aviation International Newsaa23
                            General Aviation: Future Uncertain                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         SPECIAL REPORT
                                       GA decline                                                                   any other organization. I think
                                                                                                                    that EAA in the past might not
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      important insights,” he said.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      One is that training organiza-
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            piston-engine airplane hours
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            flown dropped from more than
                                       uContinued from preceding page                                               have been using those levers as                                                                                                   tions need to know that today’s       34 million per year to slightly
                                       liability to the first 18 years of                                           much as we should.”                                                                                                               student pilots enjoy professional     more than 15 million. Maybe
                                       an aircraft’s or part’s lifetime, but                                           AOPA has also examined                                                                                                         training and they want to inter-      airplanes have become more
                                       lawyers are finding ways to pros-                                            the new pilot issue and released                                                                                                  act with professional instructors     efficient since 1981 or maybe
                                       ecute lawsuits anyway. “We were                                              results of a detailed study of the                                                                                                using aircraft that are equipped      the FAA’s estimates, which are
                                       able to change laws in the past,”                                            issues facing prospective new                                                                                                     with modern technology. The           based on surveys of operators,
                                       he said, “and we might have to                                               pilots at last year’s AOPA Sum-                                                                                                   students see simulators as a good     are not so accurate. But the drop
                                       look at that again.”                                                         mit. “One of the things is to                                                                                                     value proposition, he explained,      in avgas consumption clearly
                                          Hightower doesn’t like to                                                 better understand how to help                                                                                                     useful for training effectively at    indicates a much lower level of
                                       focus on the declining numbers                                               people successfully get through                                                                                                   a lower cost. The survey pro-         GA activity during recent years.
                                       of new student pilots, but rather                                            training,” said AOPA’s Fuller.                                                                                                    duced many ideas that AOPA is
                                       on the low completion rate of                                                “It’s appalling that 80 percent                                                                                                   going to share with the industry,            Airport Pressures
                                       new pilots, most of whom don’t                                               of those who become student                                                                                                       he said, “ways to improve the             From house-locked Santa

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         NIGEL MOLL
                                       make it to the licensing stage.                                              pilots don’t move through to                                                                                                      whole approach to training.”          Monica Airport in southern
                                       The EAA is working on plans                                                  become a private pilot.”                                                                                                              There is no question that         California to Naples, Fla., local
                                       for improving the comple-
                                               #026B Chart 1s                                                          The research suggests ways                                                                                                     something needs to be done.           communities are attempting to          At one time training centers were
                                       tion rate and will reveal them                                               to look at how training is done                                                                                                   According to the General Avi-         enact their own noise restric-         thriving. Today, however, the weeds
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   speak volumes about new interest.
                                       shortly, he said. “We have a lot                                             and how it can be improved.                                                                                                       ation Manufacturers Associa-          tions. Naples locals have been
                                       of levers to pull, more so than                                              “The survey has given us some                                                                                                     tion, the number of active pilots     trying for years to ban Stage 2        a growing airport serving the
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      dropped to 594,285 in 2009. In        jets, and Santa Monica-area res-       business aviation and light air-
                                                         U.S. Product Supplied of Aviation Gasoline (Thousand Barrels)                                                                                                                                1981, according to AOPA, there        idents and the city itself (which      craft communities. A few years
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      were 827,000 active pilots. “The      owns the airport) have wanted          ago, airport manager Phil Savko
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      numbers of incoming student           to prevent Category C and D            and his team created the “airport
                                           12,000                                                                                                                            1990s
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      pilots are even more alarming,        jets (approach speeds of 121           academy,” a six-week training
Aviation Gasoline (Thousands of Barrels)

                                                                                                                                                                                              Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      with a decline from 200,000 to        knots or more) from using the          program for Sugar Land citizens.
                                           10,250                                                                                                                                                                                                     73,000 in the same time frame,”       airport. Airports that take fed-       Applicants must show that they
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      AOPA noted.                           eral funds can’t erect such lim-       are not only interested in learning
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Looking at the age break-         its, but this doesn’t stop the local   about their airport but are also
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      down of the 594,285 pilots, there     communities from trying.               involved in the community, so
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      is a significant bulge in numbers         While it’s axiomatic that pilots   they can share their learning with
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      between age 35 and 65. Most           consistently point out that the air-   other citizens. “They become our
                                                         Year-0          Year-1    Year-2          Year-3    Year-4        Year-5     Year-6     Year-7        Year-8       Year-9                                                                    private pilots are within that age    ports were there long before the       ambassadors,” Savko said.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      range, while commercial pilots        houses, that isn’t always the case.        Despite efforts like these, the
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      trend a little younger. The low-      The houses surrounding Santa           number of public-use airports
                                                                Avgas Shipments Versus Piston Hours Flown                                                                                                                                             est numbers are during the teen-      Monica Airport, some within 300        in the U.S. continues to decline.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      age years. In the sport-pilot         feet of the runway end, were built     At the end of 2009, there were
                                           35,000                                                                                                                                                                                                     category, many pilots are found       for workers at the Douglas Air-        5,317 public-use airports, down
                                                                                                                             Avgas shipments (thousands of barrels)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      in the higher age levels, probably    craft plant, who built more than       from 5,718 in 2000. Private-use
                                                                                                                             Hours flown (thousands)                                                                                                   reflecting the lack of a regula-      10,000 C-47s/DC-3s and other           airports, however, have grown,
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      tory requirement for these pilots     airplanes. Many of the local resi-     to 14,298 in 2009 from 13,964
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      to hold a medical certificate.        dents have owned their houses for      in 2000.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            decades, long before jets started          Europe has fewer than half as
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Aircraft and Activity Numbers         using the airport, and they believe    many airports with paved runways
                                                                                                                                                                                                Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, FAA

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Production of GA aircraft          they have some rights.                 as the U.S. (2,241 versus 5,128).
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      dropped significantly during the          Airport-owning communities
                                           15,000                                                                                                                                                                                                     recession. In 2009 only 1,587 air-    that take federal funds can’t dis-                Safety Issues
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      craft were shipped, according to      criminate against airport users,          Noise isn’t the only problem
                                           10,000                                                                                                                                                                                                     GAMA statistics, down from            Hightower noted, “but airports         for GA airports; Santa Mon-
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      3,029 in 2008 and a record 3,279      and pilots need to have a better       ica residents and the city share
                                             5,000                                                                                                                                                                                                    in 2007 (since a high of almost       relationship with the community        a concern about a jet over-run-
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      18,000 aircraft in 1978). The total   and community leaders.” Ulti-          ning during takeoff or landing
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      number for 2010 remains low.          mately, he added, “it’s always         and crashing into homes.
                                                     0   1981     1983     1985    1987     1989     1991    1993   1995     1997     1999     2001   2003         2005   2007   2009
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      (See GAMA article on page 6.)         nice to have airports owned by            Safety problems are a sig-
                                           Deliveries of avgas and the FAA’s annual estimates of hours flown in piston-powered
                                                      Caption: Deliveries of avgas and the FAA’s annual estimates of hours flown in piston-powered
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         While overall billings haven’t     passionate aviators.”                  nificant factor in the decline of
                                                      aircraft decline in general aviation activity over the past three decades.
                                           aircraft trace theshow a decline in general aviation activityover the past three decades.                                                                                                                  dropped as much, note that piston         Community relations are            GA, according to Bob Miller,
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      aircraft shipments are way down.      important, but not always nec-         publisher of the monthly “Over
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The last time piston shipments        essarily beneficial. Santa Mon-        the Airwaves” newsletter and
                                                           U.S. General Aviation Aircraft Shipments and Registrations                                                                                                                                 were at the current levels was 1996   ica Airport, for example, sits on      owner of Bob Miller Flight
                                                                                                                                                             Single-engine piston
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      and 1997. And piston-powered          the border with the city of Los        Training in Buffalo, N.Y. “To
                                                                                                                                                             Multi-engine piston
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      aircraft remain the point-of-entry    Angeles. The homeowners–resi-          put it in perspective,” he said,
                                                                                                                                                             Turboprop                                                                                for new pilots. (These numbers do     dents of Los Angeles–who com-          “learning to fly isn’t like learn-
                                           14,000                                                                                                            Jet                                                                                      not include light sport aircraft.)    plain about jet engine exhaust         ing to play golf. We still suffer
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Activity levels are also a con-    fumes and particulate emis-            about 300 fatal accidents a year,
                                           12,000                                                                                                                                                                                                     cern. Since 1981, avgas con-          sions downwind of the east end         80 percent of which are attrib-
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      sumption has declined by half,        of the runway, have little appre-      utable to pilot error, because
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      from more than 11 million bar-        ciation for the economic bene-         the teacher failed to teach. Well
                                                                                                                                                                                        Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration

                                            8,000                                                                                                                                                                                                     rels in 1981 to 5.2 million barrels   fits of an airport that belongs to     over 75 percent [of those pilot
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      in 2009. The FAA was sched-           Santa Monica.                          error accidents] can be traced
                                            6,000                                                                                                                                                                                                     uled to release its 2009 estimate         Sugar Land Regional Air-           back to faulty instruction.”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      of hours flown in mid-February,       port, owned by the city of Sugar          According to the GAMA
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      so the numbers weren’t available      Land, Texas, has taken a pro-          Statistical Databook, the total
                                            2,000                                                                                                                                                                                                     for this article (see FAA forecast    active approach to commu-              number of GA fatal accidents
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      story page 21). The agency esti-      nity relations, and the result is      dropped to 273 in 2009, down
                                                 0                                                                                                                                                                                                    mates that from 1981 to 2008          a comfortable relationship and
                                                                            1970                      1980                     1990                       2000                                                                                                                                                                     	              Continues on page 26. u

                                       24aaAviation International News • March 2011 •
General Aviation: Future Uncertain
What needs to be done                                                       the intensely involving confines
                                                                            of a Chipmunk’s cockpit, where I
                                                                            could see the stick, pedals, throt-

to turn GA around                                                           tle lever and instrument needles
                                                                            move and witness their role in the
                                                                            sights, sounds and sensations of
by Nigel Moll                                                               this utterly captivating experience.
                                                                                How many youngsters out
    Next time you have some sol-      and swept back like an English        there today once yearned to fly,
itude, sit quietly and think back     Electric Lightning’s wings I was      only to have that ambition fade
to that early part of your life       utterly captivated with the notion    as they reflect on the crowds, the
when you began to wonder what         of flying and with all the fantas-    security screening, the cramped
it’d be like to fly. Now put aside    tic machines that made it possi-      quarters of seat 29B and the
the mixed emotions of how those       ble. The first time I ever watched    largely dull view out the small

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        NIGEL MOLL
dreams turned out–the predict-        the ground recede beneath out-        window of an airliner? How many
ability of the piloting routine,      stretched wings was on an “air-       people who have a job to do see
perhaps, the nights away from         experience flight” in a Royal         flying these days as an unavoid-                   Industry veterans would do well to remember what initially appealed to them in flying–
home, the sure push of thrust         Air Force DHC-1 Chipmunk              able and memorably unenjoyable                     and share that interest with young people.
up and away from the runway           as a cadet in the itchy blue wool     price of covering the territory?
as the wheels stow, the shrinking     uniform of my school’s Com-                                                              million kids have flown in GA                nailed the target like none other.
paycheck, “number 13 for take-        bined Cadet Force program. We               Spark Interest Early                         aircraft, thanks to EAA’s coordi-            As the saying goes, children are
off,” the tranquility of a healthy    flew over the school and looked           The way ahead for gen-                         nation and the generosity of the             the future. Their minds are unclut-
airplane carrying you through         down on my world from the pre-        eral aviation depends on lodg-                     aircraft owners and pilots who               tered by the rocks and dead roots
a clear silken sky far above the      serve of clouds and peregrines,       ing the innate fascination with                    see benefit in devoting time and             of why things can’t be done, filled
strife of life. Focus instead on      we did steeply banked turns and,      flight that resides in so many                     effort and their own good for-               instead with fertile humus hungry
remembering the fascination,          if memory serves, we even did a       young people in the forefront                      tune to this deserving mission.              to nurture the seeds of ideas.
the excitement and the anticipa-      loop and a barrel roll on the way     of their consciousness as they                     “The oldest Young Eagle is now                  Perhaps this explains the lim-
tion that preceded the first time     back to RAF Manston (now              mature and begin to see them-                      34,” notes EAA chairman Tom                  ited success of Be A Pilot, a well
you shed the shackles of grav-        Kent International Airport).          selves participating in the world                  Poberezny, who will be revealing             intentioned program that, seek-
ity, lifted off the surface of the        The experience far exceeded       of their elders. Of all the efforts                more detailed statistics on the              ing an early return on investment,
earth and watched familiar scen-      even the high expectations I had      under way to sow these seeds,                      quantifiable success of Young                targeted those with the financial
ery transformed by your admis-        been building for the preceding       the Experimental Aircraft Asso-                    Eagles this month.                           means to learn to fly and those
sion to the third dimension.          dozen years. The point here is        ciation’s Young Eagles initiative                     There have been other pro-                with a business need to put new-
    I didn’t leave the ground until   that when I did finally leave the     is most on target, I believe, and                  grams (NBAA’s AvKids and the                 found flying skills to work for
1970, when I was 15, but from         ground and see the world from         most deserving of expansion                        industry’s Be A Pilot program,               them. But those people do not nec-
the time I ran around the school      a perspective that until then I       and support. Since the program                     for example) but in the opinion of           essarily have the time or patience
yard with my arms outstretched        could only imagine, it was from       began in 1991, more than 1.6                       this observer, Young Eagles has              to give the process the perseverance

GA decline                            pilots to proficiency, not just
                                      to the minimum standards. All
                                                                                                                                  The total number of LSAs
                                                                                                                               delivered thus far is about 2,500
                                                                                                                                                                            new airplanes with sophisticated
                                                                                                                                                                            panels. Students look at well
uContinued from preceding page        pilots should undergo annual                                                             (including gliders, weight-shift             worn GA airplanes and the LSA
                                      flight reviews with high-qual-                                                           aircraft, powered parachutes                 and say, ‘I want to fly that.’ That
from 345 in 2000. The accident        ity instructors. And insurance                                                           and others), with about 2,000 of             effect has a beneficial action on
rate per 100,000 flight hours,        companies should promote                                                                 those fixed-wing airplanes. That             new pilots.”
which is based on FAA flight-         these ideas, just as the insurance                                                       doesn’t seem like a lot of aircraft,            LSAs–at least those pow-
time estimates, has remained          industry helped drive corporate                                                          but critics need to know that the            ered by Rotax and Jabiru
fairly steady during the past         aviation (business jets and tur-                                                         LSA industry had to stand up                 engines–have another advan-
decade at about 1.25.                 boprops) accident rates to his-                                                          quickly, writing self-certification          tage: they can burn autogas,
    Miller, who started his flight    toric lows via stringent recurrent                                                       standards, designing and testing             even gas with 10 percent eth-
school to support his claims          training requirements. “We’re                                                            airplanes, creating distribution             anol. (The SkyCatcher uses
about how better training can         trying to build a desire to become                                                       networks, devising maintenance               an avgas-burning Continen-
help improve GA’s accident rate       better pilots,” he said. “This will                                                      processes and so on.                         tal engine.) “That further low-
and that a professionally run         save your life.”                                                                            The LSA safety record is                  ers the cost of operation,”
school with modern airplanes                                                                                                   fairly good, and although the                Johnson said, and eliminates
will attract a growing clientele,         The Light Sport Market                                                               FAA has assessed about 30                    the problem of the potential
                                                                                                                  NIGEL MOLL

believes that FAA flight-train-          In 2004, the FAA issued an                                                            LSA manufacturers and found                  phase-out of 100LL avgas.
ing regulations are too liberal.      extraordinary new rule that ush-                                                         some flaws, overall the system                  Many critics of LSAs hail
    Miller would prefer that pri-     ered in what many expected to                                                            is working.                                  from the ranks of traditional
vate pilots be required to fly at     be a new era of cheap and sim-        to hold a medical certificate was                     LSA use at flight schools is              Beech, Cessna and Piper pilots
least 60 hours to earn their cer-     ple aircraft, the light sport air-    initially thought to be a huge                     accelerating, Johnson said, espe-            and swear they would never fly
tificate, instead of the current 40   craft (LSA) regulations. While        boon to the LSA market, but                        cially now that production of                what they consider a flimsy air-
hours, because of all the knowl-      the new rules allowed manu-           older pilots haven’t switched to                   Cessna’s SkyCatcher LSA is                   plane not powered by a Con-
edge that pilots need to acquire.     facturers to design and build         LSAs in droves, at least not yet.                  ramping up. Part of the reason               tinental or Lycoming engine.
He would also like to see the         new two-seat aircraft with lim-          “To put things in perspec-                      that LSAs aren’t widespread at               “[LSAs are] not right for
FAA require instrument flight         ited top speeds and maximum           tive, this is a six-year-old infant                local flight schools is that many            everybody,” Johnson conceded.
instructors to log experience         weights without having to meet        industry,” said Dan Johnson,                       of the manufacturers’ names are              “But it’s time to give up your
flying in actual weather before       the onerous Part 23 regulations,      president and chairman of the                      unfamiliar to the school oper-               typewriter and have a look
being allowed to teach, and that      the development of the LSA            Light Aircraft Manufacturers                       ators. But that is changing. At              at a computer.
instructors gain more experi-         market has disappointed many          Association and publisher of                       less than half the price of a new               “When [critics] realize what
ence before teaching new pilots.      people whose expectations             the light-sport-focused ByDan                      Cessna 172 or Piper Warrior and              the advantages are, they will
    However, he recognizes that       might have been too high.    Web site. In the                       with fuel burns of around four               begin to accept them more and
FAA rule changes take a long             Some LSAs sell for more            six years since the first LSA was                  gallons per hour, LSAs have a                more. At least go look at one
time and cost a fortune, money        than $100,000, and it is still not    approved, manufacturers have                       clear advantage. “LSAs have                  and go demo one. There’s not
that the agency is unlikely to        easy to find an LSA to rent at        certified through an ASTM                          logged thousands of hours in                 availability everywhere, [manu-
allocate. The better way, he says,    local airports. The absence of        industry standards certification                   the flight school environment,”              facturers] haven’t built enough,
is for flight schools to teach        any requirement for LSA pilots        program 114 new LSA models.                        Johnson said. “These are shiny               but it’s getting there.”    –M.T.

26aaAviation International News • March 2011 •
                                                                                                                                                              SPECIAL REPORT
                                             would not have believed them.        of premium autogas per hour.       seemed a logical enough way to       young hearts and minds and its
                                             But that’s what it costs per hour       “Flying has always been         spread the gospel to the imme-       members have answered the call.
                                             now to fly 50 hours per year when    expensive,” says Munson, who       diate prospects, but some people        Sporty’s founder and chairman
                                             I divide the annual cost of han-     over the years has owned a Super   see planting the seed in young       Hal Shevers is a firm believer in the
                                             garage, insurance, fuel, oil and     Cub and a Bonanza V35 and cur-     minds as the real long-term hope     Young Eagles program and the rec-
                                             maintenance by 50. Other than        rently owns a Husky. “But the      for general aviation. That’s not a   reational pilot certificate. Eighteen
                                             ultralights, flying can’t get much   economic pressures on a middle-    strategy that conforms neatly with   months ago his company launched
                                             cheaper than this: there’s no        class family today make it more    a five-year plan so it’s a tough     a Next Step program for Young
                                             note on my Kitfox, and its 80-hp     difficult than it used to be.”     sell, but the EAA has recognized     Eagles under which they receive
                                             Rotax 912 burns just 3.8 gallons        The Be A Pilot program          how crucial the mission is to win    	           Continues on next page u

The Young Eagles program has flown 1.6
million youngsters. Stephen Ward took
his ride in 1999 and had his picture taken
with program architect Tom Poberezny at
the big show that year.

and dedication it requires.
   In the words of one senior
industry figure, “Be A Pilot had
some noble goals, but I don’t think
we got the return on investment
we should have. A few years ago
the industry ran some ads during
the Christmas season, and I think
we all came to the collective con-
clusion that if we had just taken
that money and paid 20 people
to get their private certificate it
would have been a more effective
use of the money. We inspired a
bunch of people to go for a ride,
but we couldn’t ascertain whether
even one of them went on to get a
private certificate.”
          Attention Span
   Russell Munson, a profes-
sional pleasure flier whose name
will be familiar to anyone who
has read Flying magazine in the
last 40 years or so, has some the-
ories in this vein. “The attention
span of many people today who
have the money to fly means
they want immediate gratifica-
tion. If the choice is between
buying a Porsche and spending
six months learning to fly so they
can use an airplane, they’ll buy
the Porsche,” suggests Munson.
   And let’s not forget what it
costs the middle class these days
to raise kids. There’s the cost of
college, of course, which relent-
lessly outclimbs working stiffs’
pay raises and indices of infla-
tion, but there’s also the litany
of stuff like the $100 helmet
that’s required for a kid to play
hockey. Recalls Munson, “We
just used to go out and get con-
cussions.” All this stuff mounts
up, as does the time we spend
with our kids as they grow and
take on more activities.
   If anyone had told me 20
years ago that it would cost $200
an hour in 2011 to fly the two-
seat tube-and-fabric sport air-
plane I was then building, I

                                                                                                   • March 2011 • Aviation International Newsaa27
General Aviation: Future Uncertain                                                                                                                                      SPECIAL REPORT

GA turnaround                                            Support, and you can quote me on that.”
                                                             NBAA president Ed Bolen asserts
                                                                                                          that would be wonderful, but I think our
                                                                                                          growth opportunity is to keep the LSA
                                                                                                                                                                 Rod Hightower has a message for all
                                                                                                                                                             pilots, and for the sake of this article’s
uContinued from preceding page                           that business aviation values entry-level        segment growing and fill the gap between           mission, let’s ignore for a moment that
                                                         programs. “It’s well recognized that the         them and the $500,000, certified, modern,          he was appointed president of the EAA
a logbook and free access to Sporty’s rec- future of business aviation and the entry                      capable piston aircraft.”                          last summer. Hightower’s message is this:
reational and private pilot courses online. levels of GA are inextricably linked.                            How long a process might it be to mod-          “Two cards belong in every pilot’s wallet,
Last month the 6,000th kid signed up for it. The business aviation supply of pilots is                    ify the rules to allow simpler Part 23 air-        regardless of what he or she flies. One is
“Once they have completed the course they evolving: like the airlines, at one point we                    planes? “If you start by forming an ARC            the AOPA membership card, to protect
get a signoff to take the recreational pilot cer- relied on the supply of former military                 [aviation rulemaking committee], we                and defend your right to fly. The second
tificate ground exam and have a free first fly- pilots, but that has changed. Business avi-               started on the avgas ARC in mid-2010               is the EAA membership card, because
ing lesson. We’re working now on a video ation has always had a strong number of                          and its appointment was just announced             that’s the card that creates the next gener-
that Young Eagles will see before they take pilots coming up through the GA ranks.                        last month. With that timeline in mind, we         ation of aviators. It’s not one or the other;
their flight, hosted by an 18-year-old private We used to get some pilots back from the                   should be able get something started by            it’s our duty to carry both cards.”
pilot who came up through the Young Eagles airlines, but fewer now since the age-60                       year-end. How long it would take to get                Hightower is dead right, and it is my
program. We’re also working on a preflight retirement rule was lifted.                                    new rules depends on how complex peo-              firm belief that the Pobereznys (Tom
video for the pilots who will fly the kids, and              “We’ve hosted career days, we push for       ple view the issue to be. I think it’s realistic   and his founding father, Paul) and EAA
a takeaway video for the kids that tells them, R&D because new technology attracts new                    to expect new Part 23 rules by 2014-2015.”         over the decades have done more than
age group by age group, what they can do generations to GA, and we fight for tax cred-                                                                       any other single organization to fuel peo-
now to develop their interest in aviation.” its and bonus depreciation. We’re focused on                             Where’s The Magic?                      ple’s passion for flight. EAA AirVenture
The initiative is funded by the Sporty’s Foun- encouraging any legislation that promotes                      Has flying lost its magic for a video-         Oshkosh, which I attended every year for
dation and a private individual identified general aviation and on discouraging any                       game generation that has already traveled          22 years between 1979 and 2000, is a mag-
only as “someone better known in the finan- legislation that would impede GA.”                            in airliners? Cessna CEO Jack Pelton: “I           nificent celebration of flying not only for
cial world than in the aviation world who is                 GAMA president Pete Bunce is con-            think the magic will always be there. The          people like us but also for people who
particularly interested in Stem [science, tech- cerned about the lower end of the GA spec-                difference today is access to the experience       aren’t involved in aviation but would like
nology, engineering and math] education.” trum, but he sees some short-term hope in                       that creates the magic. Not that many years        to be. For my wife and me, taking our kids
Shevers emphasized he is pushing aviation tax legislation. “Pistons have normally been                    ago, airports were more open and activ-            to the big Oshkosh show sometimes was
careers of all sorts–not just flying airplanes the lead segment when GA begins to recover,                ities at airports were stronger. This gave         as much a part of rearing them as sending
                                                                           typically 18 months after      kids opportunities for rides and develop-          them to school. Nothing spoke to them
                                                                           the economy as a whole         ing relationships with potential mentors.          more eloquently than Oshkosh about
                                                                           turns the corner. But I        Young Eagles today helps provide some of           their dad’s thing about airplanes.
                                                                           don’t know if we’re going      this access. But we as an aviation commu-              Observes Sporty’s Shevers, “Few peo-
                                                                           to follow a normal recov-      nity need to do more at the grass roots to         ple quit between the recreational pilot
                                                                           ery model this time. The       promote our airports and aviation activi-          and private pilot levels, but they sure as
                                                                           lower you go in the spec-      ties. While you can try to ignite the passion      heck quit before getting their private if
                                                                           trum of GA products,           through books, the Internet and other              they haven’t got a recreational license.
                                                                           the more concerned I           social media, nothing promotes aviation            The national dropout rate is 80 percent
                                                                           am. But to be able to          more than physically taking part in it.”           before private and only 27 percent [at
                                                                           expense the entire pur-            As prime architect of the Young Eagles         Sporty’s Academy] before achieving a
                                                                           chase price of an airplane     program, EAA chairman Tom Poberezny                recreational license. Because of the law-
                                                                           in one year could really       thinks the best is yet to come from efforts        yers, the microphone and the flight-hour
                                                                           be good for us. Where we       to expand the pilot population: “Under             meter, we now take 15 to 20 hours to
                                                                           need the help is in the seg-   Young Eagles, 1.6 million kids have flown          solo someone rather than the eight to 12
                                                                      MATT THURBER

                                                                           ment that, fortunately,        in small aircraft since 1991, and 1.1 mil-         hours it used to take. But now, with the
                                                                           can deliver by the end of      lion of them are currently eligible to get a       recreational pilot certificate to strive for,
                                                                           2012, which is when this       pilot certificate, aged 15 to 34. Most new         we can tell them, 10 or 12 more hours–
EAA’s AirVenture at Oshkosh, Wis., is a mecca for aviation enthusiasts,    provision expires.”            pilots are in the 40-plus age group, and           another $1,200–and you can be a rec
a reminder of the fun and freedom of flying.                                   From a longer-term         growth in the pilot population is the cor-         pilot and take someone for a ride. Then
                                                                           perspective, Bunce says        nerstone. Without pilots there’s no foun-          fly around for a while as a rec pilot, then
but designing, building and maintaining GAMA’s members want to join with the                              dation of aircraft ownership.”                     spend another $1,000 or so and get your
them and working as a flight attendant.                  FAA in rewriting the rules for Part 23 cer-          Poberezny and others regard the peak           private license. This is how to sell it.”
    Says Shevers, “Our educational prod- tification. “We know that the level we have                      of airplane sales in the mid- to late 1970s            As one voice of experience empha-
ucts hit a low in January last year, but to certify all Part 23 aircraft to is what                       as an unreal aspiration today since it was         sized to AIN, the task at hand is far
they’re doing significantly better now. We drives up the price of entry-level GA air-                     unsustainable: “People who lived through           greater than simply saying we need more
were down about 40 percent a year ago; craft. Under the current rules, we have to                         the end of World War II in their 20s were          pilots and launching a Be A Pilot type
now we’re down only 20 percent.”                         certify simple airplanes the same way we         in their 50s and they had the disposable           of program. “This can’t be an event that
    Shevers has strong opinions on certify the most complex Part 23 aircraft,                             income to get their pilot certificate [if          lasts a year or two and then we go back
the third-class medical: “If the FAA and we think it’s important for the opera-                           they didn’t already have it] and buy an            to the old way of doing business. We need
changed the medical rules for the recre- tor community to join with us in pushing                         airplane. On top of that, you had the GI           to build the marketing and promotional
ational pilot certificate it would do more the FAA to look at the whole rulemaking                        Bill training a lot of people. Put all that        infrastructure to tell people that their
for the pilot population than any other process for Part 23, something that hasn’t                        together and the mid-70s were general              interest in flying is not for the other guy
single thing. The recreational certificate been done in two decades. We have sup-                         aviation’s heyday, but not really a sustain-       to act on. We need a solid infrastructure
requires a third-class medical, and that’s port for this in the FAA, all the way up to                    able phenomenon. The supply of mili-               of airports and sustainable flight schools
really too bad. AOPA twice petitioned the Administrator level.”                                           tary-trained pilots and the GI Bill both           to support the marketing, and we don’t
the FAA to make the recreational med-                        Bunce notes that there is a big price gap    disappeared in the ensuing years and we            have that in place strongly enough yet.
ical requirements the same as for sport between light sport aircraft (LSAs) and                           have been losing pilots since the 1980s.               “How often do we hear people say,
and glider pilot certificates, and the agen- the first certified aircraft. “It’s a pretty sig-                “Support for Young Eagles is oriented          ‘I’ve always wanted to learn to fly, but…’?
cy’s reaction was to wait and see how [the nificant jump. So are LSAs where we want                       toward the individual, and they have               That ‘but’ is the biggest three-letter word
relaxed requirements] work out for sport them to be? No. Do they have potential to                        donated millions and millions of dollars’          in the language. Those with a passion for
pilots. That was five years ago. The FAA bring in people who just want to fly recre-                      worth of their time. But while Cessna              aviation who follow us need to have the
should know by now.”                                     ationally? Yes, and I think the LSA indus-       and Socata in particular have been sup-            same chances we had. For too long we’ve
    Shevers would also like to see FBOs try can grow. But we can fill that gap with                       portive, says Poberezny, “the industry             been insular–‘To be a pilot you have to
once again respecting the pilot who pulls certified aircraft if we can figure out a way                   collectively has not been too supportive           be superhuman’–and we’re proud of it to
up in a piston single: “FBOs are too to certify them at less cost. That’s where I                         because it has not seen the value. When            the point we don’t want to let new people
focused on pumping jet fuel. The three see growth potential in our industry. If we                        we started the program it wasn’t to boost          in. Pilots are special, but we can certainly
most anti-GA places in the world are can get back to selling high-end Part 23                             the pilot population but simply to get             do a better job encouraging a lot more
the FAA, the TSA and Signature Flight aircraft the way we were in 2006 and 2007,                          young people interested in the idea.”              people to learn to fly.”                   o

28aaAviation International News • March 2011 •