Sharing is the future of general aviation

GUEST EDITORIAL By ROB MAISEY

Pilots are members of a community.

General aviation pilots generally understand that they share the skies and their passions with others who have traveled the same path. Despite that sense of community, the general aviation world is under threat.

Pilots often talk about its slow decline, and even offer up their solutions for rebuilding, but very few ask themselves if they are personally meeting the obligations needed to maintain successful communities.  

There are many ways to explain the economic struggles of general aviation, including — and not limited to — expense, lack of participation, and cost of training.

One of the most overlooked problems is the low usage of existing, privately owned, general aviation aircraft. The bad news is that this is a complex problem. The good news is this problem is almost always solvable.

It is difficult to estimate, but a commercial business will maximize “up time” of its airplanes to some place north of 60%. The average up time of private planes in the USA is estimated at less than 15%. 

There are more than 5,000 airports in the United States, more than 664,000 active pilots, and more than 200,000 private general aviation aircraft.

The Cessna 172S.

Twenty years ago, general aviation had enough planes in the air that an under-utilized plane had little impact. However, the costs of maintaining airports and other segments of the GA community has increased, while the available discretionary time of airplane owners has decreased, putting the health of our aviation communities under threat. 

Sharing is the Solution

Sharing can help restore strong, vibrant, aviation communities. 

Economically, increased usage will decrease fixed and per-use costs and increase revenues to support services and infrastructure. 

Environmentally it reduces waste incurred by manufacturing and maintaining unused aircraft.

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