Is General Aviation Dying in the USA?

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

  1. jmp470

    jmp470 Line Up and Wait

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    Time is key.... when I got my license I walked into the FBO and asked what I needed to do... they sold me the cleared for takeoff books and off I went. 2 weeks later, after my test was done, I walked back into the FBO and said you have 30 days to get me my pilots license. I flew twice a day on many days and had 1 dedicated instructor with another one on standby just in case the first one was with another instructor. 30 days and 44 hours later I had my PPL.... It was tough, but its very doable. The reason I was on a time crunch was that I was moving and between jobs. Between leaving my old job and starting my new one, I could afford to use 30 days of vacation. Some of the other students were there forever, and flew only once a week. While I understand flying when you can, it is hard to get comfortable in an airplane without immersion, IMO.
     
  2. UngaWunga

    UngaWunga Cleared for Takeoff

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    Thing is, with a Porsche or Corvette, you can go into a dealer, plunk down your $dough, and drive off. Not so much with a plane...
     
  3. Tmpendergrass

    Tmpendergrass Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Exactly. Aviation is more of a lifestyle than a hobby.


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  4. RalphInCA

    RalphInCA Cleared for Takeoff

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    REALLY?? Damn. I was going to patent that idea and make a million!

    All the good ideas are gone.
     
  5. Tmpendergrass

    Tmpendergrass Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Not sure it's been brought up in the previous 47 pages, but where are we with the part 23 re write? Turning 172s into experimentals would make them much cheaper to modernize. A G3x system is a whole lot cheaper than an aspen system


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  6. MikeTuggle

    MikeTuggle Pre-Flight

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    Does anyone else think it's ironic this morning to see "Is General Aviation Dying in the USA?" and "Washington, DC Question" sitting next to each other on the front page?
     
  7. Aaronk25

    Aaronk25 Pre-takeoff checklist

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    The airport fences are ridiculous! Why have them? Do they really keep out ill intentioned people? Or just the local airport kid that wants to see the planes and would walk up and offer to help pilot do almost any task for a ride? How many of you were that kid?

    With a bolt cutter and the cover of darkness there isnt a single airport in the U.S. I couldn't gain access to, so really what are these fences doing? Hell even the deer get inside!
     
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2015
  8. Tmpendergrass

    Tmpendergrass Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Don't even need a bolt cutter. Just gotta be able bodied enough to climb a chain link fence


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  9. UngaWunga

    UngaWunga Cleared for Takeoff

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    What I was trying to say that is there isn't any training shortcut. The Light Sport instructors I know say it still takes around 40 hours to get a pilot proficient. Some take more. A lot more.

    I was thinking light sport when I saw the estimate of 20 hours to get a license. Then I talked to instructors, figured with the restrictions I might as well get my PP.

    And it does take quite a commitment to learn. Especially when you can't fly more than twice a week (weather, schedule, plane and CFI availability, etc)

    But those talking about old planes are right. I have a few friends that would love to go for a ride, but the idea of going up in a plane from the 1970s bothers them. I show them the Cub I started training in and offer to take them up, they're all for it (who doesn't like a Cub?) until they find out it was build in 1940.
     
  10. flyingcheesehead

    flyingcheesehead Touchdown! Greaser!

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    The thing that most disgusted me at Oshkosh was Garmin's autopilot for experimentals. Nothing wrong with the autopilot, it's just too nice for too cheap compared to certified! It's basically got the same features as the GFC700, the most advanced GA autopilot today, including the IAS mode - And the whole shebang, servos and all, costs a measly $2500. Yes, that's only two zeros!

    If Garmin did offer the GFC700 as a retrofit, it'd certainly be at least $25,000, probably more. Heck, the price differential between similar planes that have it vs. those that don't is around $60,000!
     
  11. hindsight2020

    hindsight2020 En-Route

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    Yep. Shows you just how much a racket certified avionics really are. Same goes for the Aspen and Garmin PFD suites. Those boxes would cost nothing if they were indexed against Dynon as a peer competitor. Same box, same sheetty code.

    At the rate our 40-60 year old spam cans are going, wrt airframe/engine maintenance/parts cost to hull value ratio, unless part 23 releases them to exAB rules, it's off to the salvage yard with the preponderance of piston GA.
     
  12. Challenged

    Challenged Pattern Altitude

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    Help me Obi Part 23, you're our only hope!
     
  13. Henning

    Henning Ejection Handle Pulled

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    I doubt it since people typically don't bother with FAQs.
     
  14. drotto

    drotto Cleared for Takeoff

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    Again the cost of things like gps, autopilots, and avionics is way out of line with the cost of production. I know part of it is supply and demand, and the economics are just not kind to us here, but mainly it is regulation. Take GPS for example, you can buy a stand alone unit for $100 for your car, even a way overpriced OEM GPS is about $2000, an aftermarket built in car unit is around $600 (mid priced). A refurbished 530 however is 10K. Yes, I know the antennas are a little more advanced, but the CPU, and basic guts are more than likely identical. The screen may be slightly more, and it does have the radios built in. But despite the "upgrades" there is nothing there to command a used unit costing five times what the top of the line new car unit costs. You can argue that software costs need to be considered also, but I can get Foreflight for $75 per year, and the software is not that different than what we get in a built in GPS. The software therefor does not warrant the additional cost either. I would go even further and bet that Garmin products basically share the same code across ALL their GPS devices. It all related back to either regulation, or supply and demand.

    Fact is if you upgrade an old panel to state of the art it will cost $80k to $100k. If you take aftermarket markups out of the equation that still means between $60k to $70k of every new plane is avionics costs. I would be shocked if those avionics cost Garmin more than about 10K to produce, including R&D and development.

    How much of this large markup carries across to other parts? A lot of it does. The fact is, if the government would streamline the regulations, and limit litigation, things would get cheaper. Things get cheaper, demand goes up, then supply goes up, and prices come down. Saving GA is all about costs, you get the price down, and it will get more popular, or at least have a chance at it. Economics and price tag is the number one issue with GA. You get that fixed and a lot of the other problems will start to correct themselves.
     
  15. flyingcheesehead

    flyingcheesehead Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I had always thought that a good chunk of it was needing to recoup R&D costs with a limited market. However, if they can make the experimental stuff for a tiny fraction of the cost and sell it to a much MORE limited market, the only explanation is the cost of certification. :mad2:
     
  16. Jay Honeck

    Jay Honeck Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Yup.

    The math, as an owner, is simple yet striking:

    Glass panel in my Pathfinder: $55K

    Glass panel in my RV-8: $11K.

    (2013 prices)

    And the one I put in the RV is more capable than the one I was considering for the Piper.

    IMHO, what the FAA has done to our ability to incorporate modern avionics technology is criminal.

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  17. drotto

    drotto Cleared for Takeoff

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    I would not be shocked if that 275k 172 would "only" cost 150k if you removed a good portion of the regulatory and legal defense costs.

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  18. LoxaBagels

    LoxaBagels Ejection Handle Pulled

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    Dynon and Garmin provide 2-axis autopilots with a rudimentary AP Director in them for SLSA and experimentals...the price delta is largely due to government regulations, not the cost of the hardware and software per se.
     
  19. acrophile

    acrophile Line Up and Wait

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    Nope. I gather you're suggesting that flight restrictions such as the DC ADIZ are at least partly responsible for GA's decline. But even if that's true, how is it ironic?
     
  20. denverpilot

    denverpilot Tied Down

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    Pretty sure he's noting the gigantic sucking sound from DC on the earnings of the entire rest of the country, so loud that you can hear it almost to the west coast, but not quite hear it over their smaller Bankruptcy Light(TM) version.
     
  21. Dav8or

    Dav8or Final Approach

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    No, there is another... PBR2... :rolleyes:
     
  22. Dav8or

    Dav8or Final Approach

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    Both of you are missing a huge, HUGE, HUGE factor. Liability. Anybody who manufactures anything that is remotely mission critical for a certified GA airplane is opening themselves up for devastating liability exposure. To protect themselves requires insurance and the premiums are correspondingly huge. The expense is passed on to the consumer. The less consumers, the higher the unit price.

    That "EXPERIMENTAL" sticker on the side of the plane wipes all this away because the liability is placed squarely on the owner of the plane and not as much anyone else. Without the deep pockets, gold diggers... er, umm I mean trial lawyers, don't bother. This is why any "Part 23 rewrite" should include an option for those of us to "decertify" our factory built planes and take them "EXPERIMENTAL". :yes:
     
  23. drotto

    drotto Cleared for Takeoff

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    ^^^^ I mentioned in a later post that legal defense/liability was a large part of the costs. Not ignored, and that value is again way to high and hurting GA significantly.
     
  24. flyingcheesehead

    flyingcheesehead Touchdown! Greaser!

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    That was my entire point.

    The sticker doesn't remove any liability from Garmin. Garmin still made the same piece of the puzzle in either case, the only difference is who installed the equipment (builder vs. OEM/avionics shop). Survivors are going to name whoever has the biggest pockets in the suit regardless of the presence of an experimental sticker. Garmin definitely has bigger pockets than the builder.
     
  25. Dav8or

    Dav8or Final Approach

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    No, Garmin doesn't get out of all liability for sure, but it is greatly reduced and history has shown a reluctance on the part of trial lawyers to go after the big money grab when it comes to experimentals. Perhaps because jurors don't have a lot of sympathy for people that die flying experimental airplanes. Sounds like risky business, right?

    The insurance companies recognize this trend and therefore the premiums are lower, that's why the same avionics by Garmin are a magnitude different for experimental vs. certified. Still, there is expense and that's why an experimental glass panel still costs $5000 instead of the $1800 it ought to cost.
     
  26. Art VanDelay

    Art VanDelay Pattern Altitude

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    I can't help but think that tort reform would go a long way to help reverse this death.
     
  27. Anthony

    Anthony Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I thought we got tort reform 20 years ago with the Aviation Revitalization Act??? There was an aircraft age threshold, but at this point most of the fleet must be older than that.
     
  28. Palmpilot

    Palmpilot Touchdown! Greaser!

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    My recollection is that items installed in the aircraft that are newer than the age threshold are still allowed to be the subject of a suit.
     
  29. Anthony

    Anthony Touchdown! Greaser!

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    So really we are talking avionics, and any new engines, and mostly firewall forward things. Not much happens to the airframe. Still they are all sources of failures. Ugh.
     
  30. drotto

    drotto Cleared for Takeoff

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    In GA as in the USA as a whole the lawyers are sucking the life blood out of everyone. Making things more expensive under the guise of making things safer and fairer, while really only lining their own pockets.

    When I elected to fly, I did this with full knowledge that there are inherent risks. I do expect that the manufactures will give me a safe, and reliable product, and they should be accountable if there is a true defect. I do not hold them accountable for either my own stupidity or acts of God.
     
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2015
  31. LoxaBagels

    LoxaBagels Ejection Handle Pulled

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    Consider you can get a new SLSA like a Flight Design CTLSi with fuel injection, an ECU, 120ktas cruise, 140ktas top end, Dynon Touch, Garmin touch nav, a parachute, 4gph burn at 90%, mogas or avgas, ADS-B, Autopilot for $160k.

    Soon, Flight Design will have their C4 which has a 150ktas cruise, four seats, Garmin G3x touch, Garmin GTN 750 nav, ADS-B, dual fuel, 3-axis autopilot, 1320 useful load, parachute for $250k.

    The slower and much higher priced Cessna 172 and even the 182 are staring at oblivion.
     
  32. drotto

    drotto Cleared for Takeoff

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    I agree 100%. The C4 looks like it is going to be massive competition for the 172, maybe even the 182. Plus they are going for full certification. There are some nice new planes in the pipeline that are aiming to be less expensive. We just need to see if they actually happen.

    This also shows a major issue in GA, just not enough competition. Part of why cars are cheaper, and you can get so much for your money is competition. There are dozens of different choices within each major class, not like the 2 or 3 we get. The manufacturers need to compete. Piper, Cessna, even Cirrus seem almost content with their numbers in the SEP market. So why get better, why get cheaper. The consumer does best when the makers are pushed to do and be better, we do not have enough demand or competition to get that advantage.
     
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2015
  33. Dav8or

    Dav8or Final Approach

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    We'll never, ever get it. The seats of government are largely occupied by lawyers. They will never turn on their brethren and they will never attempt to degrade their holy institution. In addition, there is a large part of the general population that likes all this litigation. It's a litigation lottery with promises of big pay offs! Woo Hoo!!!:goofy:
     
  34. hindsight2020

    hindsight2020 En-Route

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    ....but you're still talking about a $250K solution to a $60K problem. You guys know what the US median household income is right? The inefficiencies of flying a 1940s design still are much cheaper than that ridiculous capital difference for a decade or two of flying. The whole thing is a non-starter. A 172 could fly 200knots tomorrow and it still wouldn't change a thing, as long as it's 250K to buy. How long would it take for one of these contraptions to depreciate to sub 100K price points? That's about the only residual value to the proposition.
     
  35. drotto

    drotto Cleared for Takeoff

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    Yes, we need the new 100k 172 killer. If you could get new planes down that low (not light sport planes, actual 4 seaters) with equal or better specs to a 172, it would be a game changer. It would also be painful for all those old plane owners that would see the values on their old planes crash, but great for the buyers on the used market.

    I think from a manufacturing standpoint that price point is achievable, but many things would have to change to get there. Less litigation. Less regulation. More demand. Better mass production, More competition. Just to name a few, but realistically I do not see this happening.
     
  36. jmp470

    jmp470 Line Up and Wait

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    You cannot even buy a BMW M5 for less than 100K now a days. Heck, many top line SUV's are going for $75K. While I don't think that a plan should cost significantly more than those, at least they have the manufacturing costs spread out over a larger production run.

    I'm sticking with accessibility versus financial reasons for GA's decline.
     
  37. Jay Honeck

    Jay Honeck Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Boy, that's the truth. I personally know two families who won the litigation lottery, knowingly and falsely, and are living life high on the hog. I suspect they would sing the praises of our judicial system.

    As with all the other free stuff we have allowed in our messed up society, easy litigation has won an entrenched constituency that will make it very difficult to reverse.
     
  38. Tmpendergrass

    Tmpendergrass Pre-takeoff checklist

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    So I guess what we need is more 4 seat experimentals


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  39. Jimmy cooper

    Jimmy cooper En-Route

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    Most people of a rational mind do not have a misconception of general aviation. It is dangerous. When one reads the constant accident reports, the reasons for accidents and often deaths are pretty repetitive and pretty stupid. The education comes in to the training of pilots and how lacking many are in basic skills and common sense. Add to this the cost and the age of aircraft flying and you have the tremendous reduction in GA activity in the past 30-40 years. Seen a new mooney lately or a new bonanza.?? The jobs that supported a healthy GA are GONE, not to return. Manufacturing jobs that paid well.
     
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2015
  40. LoxaBagels

    LoxaBagels Ejection Handle Pulled

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    Consider aircraft are handmade and very small volumes. There is no economy of scale or automation in building them. You will likely not see a medium performance 4-seater cheaper than $200k new.

    Compare 30 or 40 year old Cessnas and Pipers to a new plane is a tedious debate that always leads to the same circular arguments. The old planes will not ensure GAs future...the new designs, engines, and avionics are the future. Even if few indulge in the hobby.
     
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2015