Is General Aviation Dying in the USA?

Discussion in 'Flight Following' started by Tarheel Pilot, Apr 28, 2011.

  1. FormerHangie

    FormerHangie En-Route

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    I don't think so, but it does appear that flying isn't as appealing as it once was. There was a time when operating a vehicle was one of the cooler things a guy could do, but now it's kind of commonplace. It probably doesn't help that the airplanes we fly, are for the most part, old technology. That' doesn't add to the cachet.
     
  2. OkieAviator

    OkieAviator Pattern Altitude

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    Welcome to POA and thanks for bumping a 4 year old topic!
     
  3. falconkidding

    falconkidding Line Up and Wait

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    To contribute to an old topic just from the POV of someone new to flying on why GA is sometimes a struggle.

    1. Its expensive to get into for someone young(or anyage), even if your a young guy making rent and bills and you have 300 bucks left over a month to fly that gets you what 2 hours of instruction and flying? Have your PPL and just to rent a plane and fly once a week your probably looking at 500 a month assuming an hour or so each flight. 500 a month puts a ducatti in the garage, 500 bucks a month is a nicer location/house, 500 bucks a month turns your camry into a nice BMW, 500 a month probably maxes your employer 401k each year. You can buy a whole lotta fun/quality of life if you sub out those $120 burger runs for something else.

    2. Its mostly useless to have a ppl(except for fun!) I'd love to travel via GA but I need an IR rating(more money!) or need to plan my vacations with 2-3 days built in for travel on the east coast( or be willing to fly low and crisscross states avoiding the fluffy stuff.)

    3. related to point 2 there are few fun planes to fly unless you have money to own. you can rent a cessna or a piper....Thrilling stuff... after you get a ppl you just bore holes in the sky in a plane that lands itself.


    My complaint after getting my PPL is I love flying but flying 150 172 and 182's isn't really fun anymore at least not worth spending 100 bucks an hour on. I had so much fun flying an old citabria but unless I buy I can't even fly something like that anywhere around here. I want to do acro but no one rents a plane for it, a few guys around own extras and a pitts but even if they rented I couldn't afford the 300-500 an hour those go for.

    So Cost, Fleet of 50s technology, practicality take your pick.

    Also new hobbies, 29.99 gets me 200 hours and a year of fun with 4-12 of my friends playing videogames each friday night or I could spend 150 bucks fly to a new airport walk around maybe some old guy will ask "me what years that cessna" or give me some dumb nonsensical advice.
     
  4. ClimbnSink

    ClimbnSink Ejection Handle Pulled

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    Falcon Kidding you speak many truths. Give sailplanes a try, not always cheaper, but more fun, you are always thinking and flying.
     
  5. Henning

    Henning Ejection Handle Pulled

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    There's also Pt 103 ultralights which is the cheapest fun you can have in the air, as well as their low cost 2 seat versions which can be flown on an SP or higher with no medical.

    If you just want to have fun flying around, it's really hard to beat an open air ultralight type machine.
     
  6. FormerHangie

    FormerHangie En-Route

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    Also consider hang gliding or paragliding, even less expensive than a powered ultralight, and really fun.
     
  7. Jay Honeck

    Jay Honeck Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Every time I think GA can't possibly get more dead, it does. :(

    Mary and I fly every other day. We are almost always, without exception, alone at the airport. Other than the Navy guys out practicing, we're usually the only one in the skies, too.

    It's so unspeakably sad. I hate that so few are flying, but can't for the life of me come up with a solution.
     
  8. Dav8or

    Dav8or Final Approach

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    New to flying maybe, but you're an old salt when it comes to assessing the issues that cripple GA. :yes:

    It depends on where you live, but there are reasonable rental rates on Citabrias around the country. They generally are just a little more than a 172, but that does no good if there isn't one near you. Ownership can be pretty inexpensive too... as far as airplane ownership goes... :rolleyes2:
     
  9. StevieTimes

    StevieTimes Line Up and Wait

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    This is what I pulled from a nearby class D (KFCM); looks like things have about cut in half in ten years. (These numbers are not just GA; that went from 79,366 in 2005 to 43,571 in 2014.)


    ANNUAL TAKEOFFS AND LANDINGS

    2005 157,712
    2006 144,178
    2007 118,178
    2008 116,696
    2009 117,209
    2010 99,183
    2011 114,574
    2012 84,773
    2013 75,724
    2014 73,634


    I agree; if money is tight, flying doesn't happen (at least for me).
     
  10. Dav8or

    Dav8or Final Approach

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    Give everyone time and money. I could never afford, or find time to go flying every other day.
     
  11. Henning

    Henning Ejection Handle Pulled

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    The solution is 'aviation communism', but no one wants someone else touching 'their airplane', and for good reason, no one respects anything that isn't theirs. Until we evolve as humans, no good things are possible.
     
  12. hindsight2020

    hindsight2020 En-Route

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    And this is different from other high-fixed cost discretionary activities, how exactly?
     
  13. Henning

    Henning Ejection Handle Pulled

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    Usually because it only benefits one person in the family, typically dad, and provides minimum practical benefit. When discretionary income is limited, it is typically allocated to full family benefit, or the benefit of the children.
     
  14. hindsight2020

    hindsight2020 En-Route

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    Euphemism for "the enjoyment and approval of the female", but your point is noted.
     
  15. Henning

    Henning Ejection Handle Pulled

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    Not even necessarily her enjoyment, because when it gets tight, she will usually defer it to the children; but definitely approval lest one would like to set up their tent in the hangar with the plane.;)
     
  16. Jimmy cooper

    Jimmy cooper En-Route

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    So in answer to the original question......yes it is.
     
  17. Henning

    Henning Ejection Handle Pulled

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    Of course it is, that's obvious from all the data points.
     
  18. Jay Honeck

    Jay Honeck Touchdown! Greaser!

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    What's funny is that once you've bought the plane, and paid for the hangar rent, the cost of flying more often is essentially fuel.

    Since I burn car gas, and my plane only burns 8 GPH, my cost of flying is about $20/hour.

    When is flying is horrendously expensive? When you've bought everything, and only fly 20 hours a year.

    As for time, well, if you don't have an hour of downtime in your day, you ain't living, you're just waiting to die. I work 60 hour weeks, every week, and have for years -- my last day off was in May, my next day off will be in Oshkosh -- but I can still sneak out for a quick local flight every other day.
     
  19. mkosmo

    mkosmo Pattern Altitude

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    What do you mean by 'aviation communism'? All aircraft for everybody?
     
  20. Everskyward

    Everskyward Experimenter

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    If you want to justify it that way for yourself fine, but most people who have not bought an airplane yet would consider acquisition costs, hangar rent, insurance and maintenance, not to mention that some airplanes don't burn car gas and burn more than 8 GPH. Even people who have an airplane may look at all of that and decide their money is better spent elsewhere. Then there is the cost per hour issue. Most people I know who have sold their airplanes figured out that their all-in per-hour costs were astronomical because they didn't have the occasion to fly their airplane that much. One guy told me he only flew it 5 hours in the preceding year.
     
  21. Jay Honeck

    Jay Honeck Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Yup. The airport is full of hangar queens that are flown less than 10 hours a year.

    It's false economy, IMHO, to not fly your plane. If you're stuck with all the fixed costs, anyway, you are only hurting your investment by not exercising it. There is nothing worse for an airplane than not using it.
     
  22. Henning

    Henning Ejection Handle Pulled

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    Basically yes, a nation wide fleet of planes that are available like rental cars with "One way" availability. Need a plane, grab one. Repositioning flights when necessary can be handled during instructional flights. Use 3 or 4 different models of various capability that are common to each other to minimize on both maintenance costs and 'check out' costs. That is the only way one can apply "economy of scale" to GA. You have a single buy in to the co-op then have access to a plane anywhere you want at a moderate hourly dry cost and you buy your fuel at co-op cost.
     
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2015
  23. Everskyward

    Everskyward Experimenter

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    In that case I would say it's false economy to have a plane. Sell it to someone who might use it.
     
  24. mkosmo

    mkosmo Pattern Altitude

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    I get the feeling that even that wouldn't make much sense. If it would, I'm sure somebody would have tried already. But like you said, nobody treats stuff nice, so nobody would be willing to lease-back more than they already do, and buying for such a venture would be impossible.

    Flight clubs are fairly successful, but not many are particularly large... PlusOne being the obvious. Perhaps that's the model that will actually help things out? Just need to find some capital to get similar things going across the country.
     
  25. Henning

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    It would only make sense for a manufacturer to do it. I had hoped that Cirrus might as they have nearly the perfect set up for it including the most desirable plane among 'prospective pilots', as well as the nation wide FBO/Service Center infrastructure in place. It would work quite well as a long term business model as it creates the market to use up the products at a higher rate than now requiring more replacements to be built. 10,000 pilots flying 100hrs a year will wear out approximately 250 planes a year.
     
  26. mkosmo

    mkosmo Pattern Altitude

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    Cirrus hardly builds that a year, though.

    Rough numbers show that they'd need to charge $125/hr for the airframe alone (making no money, $500k/airframe, 10k@100hr/yr, replacing 250 airframes per year, dry, no mx, no any other operating cost whatsoever). That plus other fixed plus operating would price it out of 10k pilots being able to fly 100hrs a year.
     
  27. hindsight2020

    hindsight2020 En-Route

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    As much as I despise the RV-like snobbery behind the Cirrus fad, I agree with you, that airframe is poised to be the most likely to garner enough popularity to make a rental car economies of scale plausible for GA. It would also create a cheaper market for used cirri, which is always a good thing for GA.
     
  28. Palmpilot

    Palmpilot Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    Owning a plane is not any kind of economy, IMO. The only rational justification I can see is the freedom it provides to go where you want, when you want, without having to worry about club/FBO rules, daily minimums, or whether someone else has the plane scheduled when you want to use it.
     
  29. Palmpilot

    Palmpilot Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    By the way, I think that shrinking does not necessarily equal dying. A lot of the shrinkage could be that baby boomers are getting old
     
  30. Henning

    Henning Ejection Handle Pulled

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    Exactly! If they wanted to increase production volume, the best way is to create a larger market. The only way to enlarge the market is to make the product more affordable. The whole 'fractional ownership' model failed because it still did nothing to increase the utility/$$$. Utility/$$$ is what makes GA such a poor deal.
     
  31. ClimbnSink

    ClimbnSink Ejection Handle Pulled

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    Utility sucks and the submarine driving TV watching ideals drained the fun. Before everyone got scared off ultralights were booming, simply because they are fun. Vanilla GA is not fun and isn't all that practical for travel.
     
  32. Jay Honeck

    Jay Honeck Touchdown! Greaser!

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    "Vanilla GA is not fun"? Really?

    Dude, if you don't find flying fun, why are you here?

    Flying my RV-8 is the most fun I've ever had with my clothes on. If I ever get "bored" with flying, take me out back and shoot me, cuz I will already be brain dead.
     
  33. DFH65

    DFH65 Pattern Altitude

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    I have said before and still think if someone could come up with an electric 2 seat trainer with replaceable cells that would run 2 hours plus reserve you could save GA. Oh and keep it to about 60K all in with a couple of battery packs.

    If you make the cost of entry cheap people will upgrade as they go.
     
  34. Jim Logajan

    Jim Logajan En-Route

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    Here's a one seat true electric ultralight trike that costs between $15k and $20k (depending on size of battery) with between 1 and 2 hours of endurance that can be purchased today:

    http://www.electraflyer.com/trike.php
     
  35. DFH65

    DFH65 Pattern Altitude

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    I think it needs to be a "plane" for the average person to be interested. It could be simple with parts that are pull over fabric covered I suppose but it has to feel stable and substantial and if at all possible should have an all airplane chute not because it needs it but whether real or imagined people feel safer that way.
     
  36. Jim Logajan

    Jim Logajan En-Route

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    Naturally that is tougher to do; there appears to be a Wikipedia page devoted to known electric aircraft:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electric_aircraft
     
  37. Everskyward

    Everskyward Experimenter

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    I was only responding to Jay's quote about "false economy". I agree that the decision is not in any way purely economical.
     
  38. weilke

    weilke Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Outside of business use, owning a plane follows the same economies as owning a power-boat or jet-skis.
     
  39. Bob Noel

    Bob Noel Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Heck, if you don't think flying a 152 or cherokee 140 is fun....
     
  40. Henning

    Henning Ejection Handle Pulled

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    Not $100 an hour worth of fun, no.