The slowly death of General Aviation in the U.S.

jafra98

Well-Known Member
Every aircraft owner that I know has not been flying like they used to do in the past with their airplanes quickly becoming ramp queens. Why is GA slowly dying in the U.S.? Is it avgas prices fault? Insurance? What about new people becoming pilots??


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roundout

Bus Driver
I mentioned this in a thread a while back and got poo-pooed.

Insurance is cheap. Fuel, while high, isn't a deal breaker for most. From what I can tell, the problem is the FAA. Pma parts are stupid high and new airplanes are out of sight.i think you'll See a rise in popularity Of of experimental aircraft to combat this. Some people won't fly experimentals and will just fade away.
 

EIR

Beer Drinker
Fuel prices.
When I started flying AvFuel was something like .98 or 1.00. Now, I think 6.00 / gallon is decent.
 

Ralgha

Well-Known Member
I mentioned this in a thread a while back and got poo-pooed.

Insurance is cheap. Fuel, while high, isn't a deal breaker for most. From what I can tell, the problem is the FAA. Pma parts are stupid high and new airplanes are out of sight.i think you'll See a rise in popularity Of of experimental aircraft to combat this. Some people won't fly experimentals and will just fade away.
This seems likely. The hardware in aviation is stupid expensive.

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SteveCostello

My member is well-known.
When I started flying 20 years ago in Newport News, VA, I could rent a C152 for $52/hr wet. Today, in St. Louis, that same class of airplane is dancing all too closely to $100/hr. Get into anything with any decent amount of performance and IFR, and you are lucky to find it for $120/hr here. That is an awful lot of money for a 'hobby.' Doing a quick bit o' math, if I wanted to fly 6 hours a month, what I would consider a MINIMUM number of hours just to stay somewhat proficient (and not even get better... just to stay proficient), that's at least $600 a month. That is a really nice car payment. That's groceries. That's a good chunk of a mortgage payment. In short, that is a lot of money.

Over the course of a year, that is $7,200. Just to remain proficient. In a hobby. That's a serious amount of money for just about anyone in the middle class.

Something I have been tossing around is purchasing an aircraft to help defray some of the costs of getting my PPL, IFR, (potentially CPL, depending on the aircraft), and CFI/I. The market on used aircraft is great right now... a decently outfitted C177RG can be had for around $40K. There are hundreds of smaller birds for not much more than $18K, if you don't mind something fairly old and with a TON of hours. Financed over 20 years, the payments on a $40-50K aircraft are very manageable.

Until all the rest of the stuff comes in. Hangar/ramp. Maintenance. Annuals. Maintenance. Upgrades. Maintenance. Insurance (esp. for low timers). Maintenance. Fuel. Maintenance.

Unless some things get changed, I don't see how GA can make it long term.

Cue the folks here that really wouldn't mind GA going away anyway. Burden on the system and all.
 

Roger Roger

Paid to sleep, fly for fun
This seems likely. The hardware in aviation is stupid expensive.

Sent from my Galaxy Nexus that ate your iPhone.
Hardware is not that bad. Parts from any of the manufacturers range from slightly reasonable to ridiculous. We paid $5000 for a flap motor for a Navajo a few months back.
 

Itchy

Well-Known Member
It has been dying a slow death for 25 years. Every year is grimmer than the previous one. When I first got into flying it was relatively easy to go to any decent fbo and rent something useful. I could rent a Seminole, Aztec, Saratoga, etc, with minimal times, (less than 100 hours for a 'Toga for crying out loud!), go somewhere with 4 or five friends, and stay a week.

Try that now.

And for the poster above who said "insurance is cheap". Huh? Have you actually gone and looked for insurance on a 'Toga you would like to lease back to a flight school? Let me put it this way: It aint gonna happen. Besides the premiums come the rules. And thus the loss of GA to the middle class. It ceased to be useful.

The only thing I can rent in a 200 mile radius is a 172, and better have it back by 8am tomorrow. To almost anyone, that gets old in a hurry.

GA is only useful now to those well healed enough to own or share something useful, and the costs are getting exorbitant for that.
 

SteveCostello

My member is well-known.
I can get into a 1/7th share of a decent 172 at CPS for $7,000. Monthly costs are $102, plus $66/tach hour wet (bit better than Hobbs). So that's not TOO bad. Still far from being cheap, and definitely out of the realm of being 'affordable' for most middle class folks.
 

jskibo

Done
When I first started flying in 1986, I was complaining about Traumahawks at $45 an hour and the instructor went from $10 to $12 in the summer.

Picked it up again in the Navy and NAS Whidbey Flying club in 1992 was PA-28-140 for $38 wet, C310 was $99 wet.

Around me now you can find 172's and Warriors for $125ish, DA-40 G100 for $165.

Thankfully I found a reasonable club:
C150 $75
C172 $85
C177 $95
M20P $95
 

Murdoughnut

Well sized member
I've been harping on this for years - in fact, I'm a prime example of why GA is dying. I love aviation, but the price of Avgas drove me out. I co-owned a 172 and saw our hourly wet rate go from $50 to $90 in three years. I used to fly 5 hours a month when it was cheaper, by the end I was flying 2 and couldn't justify it - for either cost of safety reasons. We were at a big field, where Avgas used to be $4.50 a gallon. According to Airnav, it's $8.31 today.

When I was dropping $300 a month to fly 3-5 hours a month I could justify it. Once it became $500+ I couldn't. And what am I going to do - rent? A rickety older 172 goes for $130 an hour around here. That means I'll drop at least $30 just to taxi the thing. Never thought I'd quit flying, but at some point I had to put my family's financial health over my passion.

Which brings me to the real problem - how can I convince anyone to take up flying as a recreational activity anymore? $8k initial investment for training and then paying out the ass to rent? Unless you have a serious business utility for it, flying is a waste of money - more so now than ever before.

On the plus side, that $100k M20J I wanted a few years ago is now $80k. And will probably be closer to $40k once the 65+ crowd that occupies light GA succumbs to death.
 

pnwchief22

Well-Known Member
When the local FBO closed in December 2011; the airport took over the fuel sales, and hired employees on the public payroll to run that part of the business. The simple answer is the market here did not have enough profit, recession hit every aspect of aviation, so the former FBO people raised prices and drove customers away.
 

tomokc

Well-Known Member
1. Perception that it's unsafe. It simply isn't unsafe.
2. Desire for instant gratification by younger people today, and a surplus of competing activities that provide it.
3. Failure by the industry to show advantages of GA travel versus commercial.
4. Scarcity of pilots is self-perpetuating. I don't know anyone who flies," many lament, so they don't learn.
 

SteveCostello

My member is well-known.
3. Failure by the industry to show advantages of GA travel versus commercial.
For the most part, the only advantage I can think of is not having my very personal belongings manhandled by someone, or having death ray beams shot through them. Oh, and not having to wait for the idiot in front of me in the security line have to remove their laced shoes, undo and remove their belt, take off their jacket, remove their laptop from the very bottom of their just-barely-gonna-make-it-in-the-overhead carryon, empty all four pockets of $6.43 of pocket change, mostly in pennies, and grab 3 dozen plastic bins to contain all the stuff they just removed from their body. Oh... and then they need to repeat the process for the 3 kids in tow.

But past that, what are the advantages for GA? It is usually wildly more expensive than the airlines (I recently priced out taking a rental from STL to New Bern, NC for a weekend... and then immediately bought airline tickets). Past a certain point, it is also slower than commercial travel. Add in the myriad inconveniences (such as having to pull your little friend out to pee in a bottle with your best friend's 10-year old daughter sitting next to you to evacuate that 40oz. mochafrappamegacalorieccino you slammed before climbing in), and the glitz and glamour of hopping into a light plane for a quick jaunt (oh... sorry, we've got a 20 knot headwind, so we'll actually be in the air for about 6 hours) starts to wear off pretty quickly.

I'm a big advocate for GA (and I am specifically referring to recreational and personal GA), but let's be honest... you have to really love it to put up with all of the things that are not really great about it. And hope your passengers are, too.
 

CrazyJ628

Well-Known Member
Haven't chimed in on a thread in a long time but I'll add my .02. I have had a PPL for about 7 years now. I paid my way through training in a 150 at about $90 hour (wet + CFI) and once I got my certificate life took over. I was in college during training and got my certificate after I graduated. I got married, got a new job, and the time required to go fly added to the fact that the FBO sold the C150 and raised fuel prices made is financially difficult for me.

I try to stay current but with my job, family obligations, and the cost of renting a plane it just gets to be too much. I'd like to join a club but I can't seem to find one in the Decatur, GA area that fits my budget.
 

ppragman

FLIPY FLAPS!
1. Perception that it's unsafe. It simply isn't unsafe.
2. Desire for instant gratification by younger people today, and a surplus of competing activities that provide it.
3. Failure by the industry to show advantages of GA travel versus commercial.
4. Scarcity of pilots is self-perpetuating. I don't know anyone who flies," many lament, so they don't learn.
It is relatively unsafe to fly in light airplanes statistically speaking - especially in comparison to commercial "big airplane" flying.
 
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