What is the general state of GA?

Discussion in 'Flight Following' started by Brandon Hicks, Aug 15, 2018.

  1. Rockymountain

    Rockymountain Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Heck with driving, much less 7-13 hours. For real????? I typically won't drive over 50 miles. If there is an airport where I am going and I can get a ride once there, crew car, Uber, rental, I will usually just take the plane. Planes have to fly, I need to stay current, and I don't enjoy partaking in the road rage jungle.

    I fly about 50,000 nm per year (50,000 nm X 1.15 to statute miles X 1.15 road to air miles) equals about 66,000 road miles per year. I drive about 5000 road miles per year ;-)
     
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  2. FloridaPilot

    FloridaPilot Pattern Altitude

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    :D:D:D:D:D
     
  3. FloridaPilot

    FloridaPilot Pattern Altitude

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    I spoke to a Cirrus sales guy at OSH, (I know I mentioned before in a previous posts). They sold 400 Cirrus SR22's this year alone. GA is not going anywhere.
     
  4. easik

    easik Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I think GA is in good stands in terms of new technologies and innovation, particularly in the LSA and experimental category. I can't speak so much on the decline of active pilots as I don't have exact numbers. That said, I just spoke to friend tonight who I didn't even know is a Pilot. He hasn't flown or used his license in 10 years. Why? I asked. Too damn expensive!

    My hope is that we find ways to make flying much more affordable.
     
  5. ircphoenix

    ircphoenix En-Route

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    Hm. I seem to see the problem here. For the most part, we all agree cost is the biggest detriment. Followed by technology.

    Well part of the problem is that new technology is too expensive to add to existing affordable airframes. Heck, even OLD technology is cost prohibitive to repair and maintain. Gotta replace a DG? 600 bucks for a rebuilt. Great. Want to put in an electronic doodad that does the same thing more reliably, weighs less, and has has fewer potential points of failure? 8 times as much. So while someone may be able to obtain a modestly priced aircraft, the cost to maintain or upgrade may keep them out. Which leads me to the next thing...

    Upgrades. I also get that some people like manual stuff. Not everyone does. In fact, even among those of you that like analog-ish stuff.... You're posting on the internet from a computer with a smartphone in your pocket that contains the entirety of human knowledge, accessible at any moment via invisible waves. I doubt, for the most part, that you are all driving 50's Chevys. Hell, most of us aren't driving cars more than 10 years old. It isn't about the INDIVIDUAL when you're talking grand scheme. It's about most people. Most people are going to be turned off by GA because our planes look like they do inside and out. I don't blame them.

    I don't buy the excuse that modern stuff weighs more, thus being impossible to add to airplanes. Pretty sure those nifty little Garmins that can replace the AI weigh far less than the equipment they replace. No idea how much a G1000 weighs, but probably not more than the heavy 1960s era instruments and associated tubing/wiring it can replace.

    The experimental market is increasing because of all this. And it's ridiculous. An RV isn't any more experimental than a 50 year old Cherokee 172. Why is the 172 completely handicapped in terms of price when it comes to installing upgrades? Or is it LESS dangerous if an RV-10 crashes compared to a 172?

    And tell me again why a new plane costs more than two very nicely appointed homes combined (in some parts of the country). You can't tell me that an aircraft produced at a manufacturing plant by people who routinely build planes using essentially the same shape, form, materials and equipment for the past 50 years can explode in price the way aircraft prices have. Unless the costs are associated with being unable to obtain such dated equipment to begin with.

    Crazy. Absolutely ridiculous.

    Sent from my SM-G935T using Tapatalk
     
  6. Brandon Hicks

    Brandon Hicks Filing Flight Plan

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    Thank you all for participating in this thread and sharing your opinions. Its been super informative and interesting to read. It’s too bad Elon Musk wants to play astronaught, tunnel builder and car maker instead of pilot, lol. I think GA could really benefit from someone like that.

    i do think the explosion in popularity of drones has put flight back in the imagination of many kids today. As someone who “attempted” to fly RC helicopters several times over the past few decades, the new designs and controls make even “toy” flight way more approachable than it has ever been.

    We also see no shortage of capital flowing into companies who are attempting to drive innovation despite a pretty low track record. Innovation absolutely requires failure and individuals who aren’t afraid of it and I’m encouraged by the mission of most of these start-ups: to create modern, cool, & LOW cost aircraft, despite prices that always seem to creep up as things progress.

    IMHO, autonomous flight is also going to start attracting massive amounts of capital soon and already has some pretty deep pockets probing the periphery. We all know that is a long way away but hopefully some of that R&D and technology will find its way into piloted flight as well and lower costs and increase access for all of us.

    I think there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic about the future of GA.
     
  7. FloridaPilot

    FloridaPilot Pattern Altitude

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    Meet John Torode he is, (At least) trying to make airplanes and flying cheaper for everyone.

     
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  8. jmp470

    jmp470 Line Up and Wait

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    One part of making flying cheaper is reduce the infrastructure costs and increasing availability. An affordable VTOL minivan is the answer.
     
  9. MIFlyer

    MIFlyer Line Up and Wait PoA Supporter

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    not to take away from your general narrative, but medicine has advanced dramatically, particularly WRT cancer as well as heart disease. the survival rates for many cancers is not really decent, vs being a death sentence in the 70's
     
  10. MIFlyer

    MIFlyer Line Up and Wait PoA Supporter

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    it's also become less convenient as more small airports have closed. this means it's farther to the airport and also that it's impossible to get a hangar, or in my airport's case, a TIE DOWN!!!

    the counterbalance is that the road traffic is getting so bad that even the hassle of driving further to the airport still makes it a time win for GA for my mission profiles. a 100kt LSA i could launch from my backyard would win it all, except my backyard is in a class D surface area
     
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  11. James331

    James331 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Not really, if you're smart about it it's really no more expensive than quads or a ski boat or other things people don't think too much about.

    Heck you can get NICE a N3 pup for under 9k, burn 3GPH of auto fuel, go 90mph, land anywhere and also fold the wings up and store it nearly anywhere.

    For 30k you can get a good 4 seat aircraft like a Piper pacer or Stinson voyager, burn 8-10gph of autofuel.


    What do you need a airport for? Lots of open land out there.
     
  12. FloridaPilot

    FloridaPilot Pattern Altitude

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    I'm just not in agreement with those who say it's the price. I had a buddy of mine who sold his aircoupe and I posted it on POA: https://www.pilotsofamerica.com/community/threads/1946-ercoupe-for-sale.103943/

    for 16k, (Yes 16K) Didn't need anything and it was ready to go. Hardly anybody responded flies great. If you can't put together 16k aviation is NOT a good idea to get into.

    (He did find a buyer after about 8 months of being on the market)

    I believe it's not a money thing but interests is moving in another direction.
     
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  13. slacktide

    slacktide Line Up and Wait

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    Concur. Look at the year-on-year growth for RV (the non-winged kind) sales. Fairly consistent double-digit growth over the past 8 years. They sold a half million new RVs last year. Doing the math on the second link, the average RV price is around $40,000. Plenty of them are in the $150,000 range. That's quite a lot of disposable income being spent on toys.

    https://www.rvia.org/business-indicators

    https://www.rvia.org/historical-rv-data
     
  14. MIFlyer

    MIFlyer Line Up and Wait PoA Supporter

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    my job and spouse require we live in the big smoke for now. I do want to pick up 100 acres or so a little down the road and do a little grass strip and a huge hangar/workshop. We'll keep a condo or something in city for those experiences.
     
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  15. Tantalum

    Tantalum En-Route

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    lol so true... but I blame the parents in large part on that. It is so much easier to be a hands off parent when you can park your kid in front of an iPad while they learn Spanish on Dora the Explorer and drone away the afternoon. I'm not even that old (31), but growing up me and my friends did not have computers.. and the GameBoy got boring after an hr or so. So we had no other options but to play outside, build forts, etc. I did end up breaking my arm TWICE (two different places, two different occasions) and my share of stitches and bruises, but it was EPICly more fun than what I imagine kids do these days cyberbullying each other on Instagram. BUT... there again, I blame parents. When I was young the iPad / iPhone option simply didn't exist. Kids don't come out of the womb hoding an iPad and iPhone. Today, it exists, and it is the parents spending thousands of dollars on iPads and iPhones and apps and games and feeding it to their kids.. because frankly, it makes their job as a parent easier..


    Well... Cirrus is not going anywhere, at least not yet. But even them are only running at about half their heyday sales. I think we talked about this in another thread, but they sell in big numbers (relative to GA) because they actually make a product that people want. Cessna and Piper, sans fleet sales, are generally no longer desired.. partly because you can get one used for a fifth of the cost or less, and partly because the new ones offer you *nothing* that the one built in 1960 did. You may get a G1000, but you're taking a big hit on useful load. I would never buy a new Skyhawk, BUT, if the right 172n with steamgauges and a 430 came along I would totally consider buying one

    You are 10000% on the money. I keep bringing this up that planes cost WAY more than they ought to. A Skyhawk is little more than a thousand pounds of sheet metal plus an engine bolted together. They've been building them since like 1950 and have produced over 30,000 of them. That is plenty of time to introduce efficiencies and lean out the process. But they chose NOT to because either they're short sighted or because they assumed "well pilots are rich and we have no competitors outside of Piper, but people are loyal to low and high wings, so let's keep doing what we're doing" and that's what happened. A Skyhawk today is built by and large the same way it was in 1950. Outside of of a few big schools people stopped buying them. I always get told I'm an idiot (not in so many words) on this forum when I point this out.. but it's the same reason that they charge $300 for a cooler full of ice and $1,500 for a $75 Black and Decker drill with an extension on it. Because they think they can, they think pilots are rich

    There are indeed! Oshkosh had a massive turnout and there actually are a lot of young people who think it's an awesome hobby. My 16 year old nephew is hard core into it, and many of the people on our local Facebook group are in the 20-40 range. We do a fly out every month and have over a dozen planes show up with close to 40 people.. so there's hope!

    Again, I agree with you. Price is part of it.. but people WILL PAY THAT PRICE if they're getting a cool product they want
     
  16. simtech

    simtech En-Route PoA Supporter

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    Until everyone in their mother isn't sue happy planes will continue to be expensive. In buying a new plane or avionics you are paying up front for thier fees they will pay down the road to their lawyers.
     
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  17. sarangan

    sarangan Line Up and Wait

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    Actually, I heard a talk from a medical researcher who said that overall cancer rates have only increased since investment in cancer research started in the 70s. Some cancers have improved, specifically breast cancer, but the overall picture is apparently not good.
     
  18. sarangan

    sarangan Line Up and Wait

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    I was not dismissing IT, but pointing out that that is the only area that has shown transformative progress in the past couple of decades. Once you remove that from the picture, transportation will look like it has not made any significant progress. Anyone who worked on an aircraft engine in the 1950's will be able recognize today's engine. Similarly with car engines. But even the best electrical engineer from 1950 would be blown away by whats inside a cell phone. Electric airplanes, if they can enable the equivalent of a Cessna 182, or 210, will be transformative.
     
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  19. Tantalum

    Tantalum En-Route

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    Anyone have any insight into how often plane manufacturers are actually sued? Out of all the dozens of pilots I've know and met I've never actually met anyone who has sued an airplane manufacturer. Of the 35,000 or so Skyhawks that Cessna has built, how many of those resulted in them getting sued and actually having to go to court and pay a settlement? I still think they're just inefficient, riddle me this below


    Let's build a Skyhawk in 2018. Your research, dyes, process, everything already exists and is paid off.. because you've had them for 7 decades.. so your raw production costs are going to be strictly personnel and materials:
    -you will need 1,000 lbs of sheet aluminum, namely probably 500 lbs of T6 and 500 lbs of T3 aircraft grade aluminum
    --t6: 500lb X $1.50 = $750
    --t3: 500lb X $1.50 = $750
    ^based on $3K/metric ton sheet

    -you will also need (1) Lycoming IO360
    --$40K (that's being very liberal. We can get into the costs of a why bare bones simple dye cast Lyco is that expensive later)

    -you will also need (1) G1000 avionics suite
    --$100K (that's being very liberal again)

    -you will need some fit and finish and other components
    --say another $5K for upholstery seats, etc. miscellaneous items

    -you will need to paint it
    --say another $2,500 (that's super high. If you have your own paint booth there is no way it'll run you that much, but w.e.)

    -then you need to build it. If a kit plane takes 2,000 hrs then let's say Cessna is at least four times as good as me (since you know, they've been building planes for nearly a hundred years) and can do it in 500 hrs. At $50/hr for labor (includes taxes, healthcare, etc., I actually doubts most aircraft assemblers make that much, but okay) you get $25K

    So we have
    +$1,500
    +$40,000
    +$100,000
    +$5,000
    +$2,500
    +$25,000
    =$174,000
    +$20K for the cost of utilities, floor space, etc.
    =$200K all in grand total direct cost to build, with extremely padded numbers. Assuming Cessna wants a 35% profit margin, that means it should sell for about $300K.. mind you.. you could get that price down to about $225K by ditching the G1000. Where is that extra $100K going? Plus, I guarantee that Cessna is not paying retail prices for their engines or avionics.. they probably actually spend $60K-$80K for that G1000 and $30K for the Lycoming

    Going back to the law suit thing.. even if 1 in 10 people who buy a Skyhawk sue them, that still means that if they're banking at least $100K on every Skyhawk then they should have plenty of money to absorb a suit. Sell 5,000 airplanes you have $500,000,000 in the bank in straight profit. Get sued on 500 of them that gives you some legal fund for settling, fighting, etc. Plus, I highly doubt that 1 in 10 plane owners sues their manufacturer.. probably closer to 2.5% or smaller

    Compare Cirrus assembly methodology <- that is a well oiled machine
    Now look at Cessna <- no stations for the SE planes, just random Skyhawks strewn about with people randomly milling around to build them.. he even says "a team member doesn't just work on a 172 or 206, they have to learn to work on all models" :eek: imagine you go to the Toyota plant and you have a guy building a Camry, Tacoma, Prius at the same time. Notice in the video they don't actually show you building anything. And they only just "most RECENTLY" learned to put the propeller on at the end of the assembly process so they can paint it more easily and limit the amount of time things just sit in inventory. This was painful to watch. These guys sound like the company was born yesterday and they just learned to build a plane... they've been around since 1927. Shameful

    Anyway.. I stick to my story. These planes are expensive because they CAN be, not because they HAVE to be. Textron cares about their turbine market and they know that the flight schools will dump half a mil into their Skyhawks because the students going there will pay the rates since they're there on student loans anyway

    Also.. there is a TON of regulation in the automotive industry, maybe even more than planes. I am not talking about Ford who sells over 500,000 F series trucks alone per year.. let's look this company right here, Ariel. they sell <100 cars per year.. and they build some high performance machines. Okay.. there's no roof and it's missing some creature comforts, but again, look at their assembly line process and how lean it is. You can buy an Ariel for around $70K... but that 172 will run almost 6 times that. Unfortunately there are no other good low volume auto makers to choose from because most low volume guys build "hypercars" or "supercars" and that has a whole different bespoke premium on it
     
  20. simtech

    simtech En-Route PoA Supporter

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    I would venture to say most plane owners don't sue, rather its the spouses, passengers, those on the ground, whoever. But agree its mostly not the plane owner.

    Joe blow takes a co worker up and they both crash and die. Co worker's spouse sues the pants of off Lycoming, Cessna, dead pilots estate, throw in what avionics company they happen to have. Jury is sympathetic and thinks these small planes are horrible and sides with sobbing spouse. Judge rules in favor and gives out say $3mil (which is prolly under estimated). Roughly 350 deaths via GA a year at $3mil each...1,050,000,000. There goes all that bank. haha Now granted of those deaths how many are solo, but even then widow will sue. And maybe 3mil is grossly over estimated, maybe its not. Ive never researched it. Like you though I would really like to know how often litigation is pursued.

    Now I know this is likely extreme but I bet it plays into account.

    And I fully agree too that it doesn't have to be so expensive but as long as people are doing it, they will not stop if its making them money. Everything is about money and some will go in debt up to their ears to get the latest and greatest so why lower the prices?
     
  21. Warmi

    Warmi Pre-takeoff checklist

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    That’s just not true. Modern car engines , while still operating on the same principle, are very different that what was common in the 50s - in fact ,someone from the 50s wouldn’t even know where to begin to diagnose an issue with a fuel injected , computerized engine.
     
  22. NordicDave

    NordicDave Line Up and Wait

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    I'd rather fly than drive any day, except for unsafe weather. Recently flew Salinas to San Luis Obispo. 50 mins verses 2.5 hours. Tahoe is 5 hours by car if moderate traffic, 1:20 by my plane.
     
  23. Stephen Poole

    Stephen Poole Pre-takeoff checklist PoA Supporter

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    I'm not sure that's a good example. Sorry, and no offense to people who like classic planes, but I'd personally be totally uninterested in that 1946 Ercoupe for any price. If someone gave it to me, I'd turn right back around and sell it for "best offer."
     
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  24. Stephen Poole

    Stephen Poole Pre-takeoff checklist PoA Supporter

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    Actually, that's a HUGE part of it. It's not easy to calculate based on *past* payouts, either. Insurance companies have to manage *risk*, and they look at trends. Just this past week, a guy who allegedly got cancer from Roundup won a $289 million(!!) settlement.

    Risk management is a whole different animal. The insurance companies are terrified of having, say, $1 billion in reserves, and then being hit with two or three lawsuits that wipe that out and then some.

    (In fact -- I used to be an insurance agent many years ago -- there are all sorts of regulations in place to PREVENT these companies from underestimating risk, because the government has to go in and bail them out when they guess wrong. Ergo, they're going to make very pessimistic estimates.)

    EDIT, because we had a major lightning strike in the neighborhood and lost Internet for a while!

    (Ergo and ergo, GA manufacturers have two choices: they can either pay $$$$ for liability coverage, or they can become a foreign company, and sell the foreign-built planes through a barely-funded shell company in the USA. If you sue the shell, you might get an oyster.) :) (If you're lucky.)
     
  25. Warmi

    Warmi Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I think that’s what Rotax does .. they have some kind of shell company in Bahamas or some place like that for the purpose of selling their engines in the US.
     
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  26. Stephen Poole

    Stephen Poole Pre-takeoff checklist PoA Supporter

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    THIS. THIS. And again: THIS.
     
  27. Kenny Phillips

    Kenny Phillips Pattern Altitude

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    Except that the Ranger is just another not-cheap limited-payload airplane.
     
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  28. Stephen Poole

    Stephen Poole Pre-takeoff checklist PoA Supporter

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    OK: on the idea of adding a servo to control carb heat, I cobbled together a little gizmo, on paper, for about $10. It would weigh maybe a couple of pounds -- comparable to the weight of the mechanical linkage. Someone else here posted that technology really hasn't advanced in the past 50 years, and that's flatly not true. Rare earth magnets, just to name one example, make it possible to create ridiculously light motors and solenoids.

    (Edit: in fact, that's how we will eventually end up with 200 Hp engines for airplanes that weigh less than internal combustion. I saw an article yesterday about yet still another improvement in battery weight. It's coming ...)

    Now get the FAA's anal-retentive fingers out of it, and you would have the CHOICE of installing this on your older plane for a rational price. Same as we do with automobiles (since we're using them for comparison).

    As for my Jeep, it's a 2017 Compass, and the gross weight is around 4,400 lbs. As SUVs go, it's not actually that heavy.
     
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2018
  29. NoHeat

    NoHeat En-Route

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    General aviation, as a hobby, is in the same state as golf, motorcycling, and other outdoor activities that aren't free:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  30. Warmi

    Warmi Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Well, looks like the LSA limit will go up to 1600 or so LBS , that will instantly add 300 lbs of useful load the the Ranger line- perhaps that’s what they counted on when designing the Ranger.
     
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  31. Stephen Poole

    Stephen Poole Pre-takeoff checklist PoA Supporter

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    Hey, like I said, raise the limit dramatically, and simply require that the plane must have a parachute if the Sport Pilot flies it. :)

    Simple. Problem solved. Now we can do lunch.
     
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  32. ircphoenix

    ircphoenix En-Route

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    This. How much does getting a PPL cost? It cost me in the neighborhood of 12k between instructor, airplane rental, equipment, and check ride. And I got mine at minimums. How many people have 12k to throw at a hobby? Plus the acquisition cost of an aircraft. Depends on what you want to do. If you want to travel, an Ercoupe probably isn't your best bet. It's going to be something like a 4 place aircraft that can travel at more than 100 kts and carry more than 1 1/2 FAA standard people. People around here deride the desire for a 4 place aircraft with the justification of "you probably won't use those seats." That's probably true, since most 4 place aren't true 4 place aircraft.... BUT you can ALWAYS use the performance associated with the ability to carry more... whether you're carrying more or not. And I don't think I recall someone saying "What do you want a sedan for? You're mostly going to be driving alone. Just go to Enterprise and rent a sedan if you need a bigger car."

    Fuel injection? GPS? Upgraded radio? Better lighting? Electronic ignition? Good upholstery? Decent paint? Good luck.

    It's like the old Woody Allen joke... you can live to be 100 as long as you're willing to give up everything that makes you want to live to be 100. You can afford a plane as long as you don't want anything that makes you want a plane.

    Someone else said it and I agree... you want to fly around for the sake of flying itself... a powered paraglider might be right up your alley. Or an LSA. But if you want to go places and take things in comfort, it starts getting real expensive, real quick. In cars, you can, for the most part, buy something that needs a little love and fix it up nice and proper. Can't do that to airplanes. Well.. can't do that to certificated airplanes. Can kind of do that to the experimentals. And the experimentals have far nicer doodads, whirlygigs, gizmos, interiors, and equipment than the legacy GA fleet because of that. But they're limited in their own ridiculous ways.

    Ugh.
     
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  33. Tantalum

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    Have you seen Love and Death? It's up there with the classic Pink Panthers and Airplane! in my book

    haha, that was me! There's a gliding place in Torrey Pines I've been often tempted to take up

    There is some real potential in the EA world. Most people aren't interested in building their own plane, and are weary of buying one that someone else built.. but if Lancair could find a way to make that "50% assemble" process something bone simple those Makos would be flying off the shelves
     
    Stephen Poole and ircphoenix like this.
  34. JohnAJohnson

    JohnAJohnson Cleared for Takeoff

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    I'll refine that a bit. It's in decline because it isn't practical.


     
  35. ircphoenix

    ircphoenix En-Route

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    Just looked at the Mako. All I can say is wow. Jealous of the future owners. Wonder what the interior feel is like compared to a Cirrus. Still prohibitively expensive for the vast majority of people.... but it'd help the used Cirrus market. =D
     
  36. Velocity173

    Velocity173 Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    And not just since 2010 either. GA as a hobby, or what must of us on POA engage in, has been on a steady decline since approx 1980. Pilots today that think it’s thriving, weren’t involved in GA during its hay day.

    The numbers say it all. Approx 357,000 PPLs in 1980, 220,000 in 2010. Approx 168,000 active SE planes in 1980, 139,000 in 2010. 8,640 SE planes produced in 1980, 679 in 2010. Not a healthy trend, especially when you consider the country’s population increased by almost 40 % during that time.
     
  37. Rockymountain

    Rockymountain Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Like a home made car versus a detroit sedan :)
     
  38. Tantalum

    Tantalum En-Route

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    Fair enough, but how often does that really happen? I mean, we don't have THAT many GA accidents, and I wonder if everyone of them results in lawsuits

    Point taken though
     
  39. Warmi

    Warmi Pre-takeoff checklist

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    That is probably the most important reason. Flying for fun , the low and slow variety, is still reasonably affordable and since it is a hobby , the practicality of it doesn’t even matter.
     
  40. Stephen Poole

    Stephen Poole Pre-takeoff checklist PoA Supporter

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    Yes. The first step toward deliverance is accepting that there's a problem. Still too much denial because "my airport" or "my flying friends" are doing well, or because Oshkosh had a good crowd. The numbers don't lie.

    Edit: there's a reasonably-nice-looking airport near where I live (Robbins Field, 20A, Oneonta, AL) that has almost become a ghost town now. It's a shame. I was thinking about basing any plane that I acquired there, but I ain't gonna park it where they don't even have fuel available(!).

    That story is being repeated all over this country, too. Slowly, very slowly, but surely.
     
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2018