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How to increase GA activity?

I think all of the above are very valid points and I also don't think there is any ONE reason for the decline. It's more a 'death by a thousand cuts' situation.

About the attrition rate post-PPL: I ave a feeling that for many getting a PPL is a box they tick, a bit like hiking in the Himalayas, etc. Something to achieve, but an achievement that's then viewed in it's own right. Achievement for achievement's sake, if you wish.

In general, keeping flying in any meaningful way post-PPL is something you really have to want to do, certainly in Europe It's certainly not made easy and the attitude in some clubs/rental organizations isn't overly welcoming either.

Add to that the general partner-unfriendly atmosphere of most GA airfields (no decent restaurant, shabby clubhouse) and you have a situation that takes some dedication to overcome.

And I haven't even started on the cost yet.......

Lovely story, PiperArcher

Yes I agree that there will always be a high attrition rate, for the reasons given, and also because e.g. many young people are doing a PPL with £8k given to them for xmas... and the USA has seen the same issue for decades. When I was doing my IR in Arizona (2006) they told me it's the same there.

But the figure is so high that I feel something could be done relatively easily.

One should certainly stimulate new business but it seems easier to work on the punters who have already transported themselves through the entrace

Mentoring has to be the way to go. A pity it is so politically sensitive, but that is a sign of the lack of a genuine "club" culture.

While "we" are supposed to welcome competition in every area, it tends to work badly in the provision of flight training. When I was learning (2000/01) there were eight fixed wing schools there (Shoreham). And a couple of heli schools on top of that. Obviously, they just drove each other into the ground.

You will always get some bloke who is willing to sit by the phone 9am-8pm, even when it is OVC002 outside, in case somebody wants to book a pleasure flight (oops I mean a "trial lesson" ) in his wrecked C150, and he sets the lowest common denominator for the whole place.

Whereas a dominant organisation could, if well managed, make a decent go of it, and they would also not need to feel so horribly insecure about experienced pilots hanging around post-PPL. To pull this off, you need the right location with the right catchment area. I can think of 1 or 2 but not many.

Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

The problem is a proper FBO system is expensive and a lot of people are entirely driven by cost in aviation. Good service should also be valued.

In Boston I used Jet Aviation in Bedford. Really nice FBO. I bought fuel from them and that was it. No other cost to use their facilities, marshals, flight planning. The difference of course is that they had a steady stream of jets coming in.

Only place here that reminds me of that is Oxford.

EGTK Oxford

a lot of people are entirely driven by cost in aviation

Sadly true. I do wonder how much cheaper it would be to run a school with (for example) 2 Pipistrel Alpha trainers for initial training, and an arrow/C172/TB10 for more advanced work.

To pull this off, you need the right location with the right catchment area.

I fly from Biggin where there are plenty of privately owned high performance singles, piston twins, TBMs etc. Clearly there is a catchment area that can support this. The larger school on the airfield seems to be moving towards offering a more professionally run environment to cater to this market - they aren't quite there yet - but I hope they make it.

Mentoring has to be the way to go.

I couldn't agree more. I've met quite a few low-time pilots who have been trained into a mentality that certain things in aviation are immensely difficult (unfamiliar places, other countries, controlled airspace, crosswinds, "complex" aircraft... and so on). I know AOPA UK operate a mentoring scheme, but it doesn't seem to have much takeup (maybe I move in the wrong circles and just haven't met anyone on it).

It wouldn't take much to introduce new PPLs to these aspects of flying, even from the right seat, perhaps a trip across the channel, or to the Scottish Isles. If it weren't for all the worries about litigation etc I would be quite happy to take people along right seat for free - it's much more fun flying with someone to talk to, and my fiançée (even tho she's about to start lessons herself) doesn't always want to come.


The legal liability should be covered by passenger insurance, which you need to have anyway.

I kept well away from the AOPA thread but I suspect the low takeup of their mentoring scheme is due to

  • the need for AOPA membership (far from universal in the UK)
  • the lack of support of it from flying schools (despite AOPA having bent backwards to please them by emphasising it is post-PPL only, which is silly if e.g. you are mentoring your mates or your kids etc)
  • the resulting difficulty of promoting it, given that most "new" people have very few aviation contacts outside the training environment (they certainly meet few if any experienced pilots because those are discouraged from hanging around schools)

I also think that AOPA scared a lot of people from mentoring by referring to their insurance scheme.

This suggests that the mentor could somehow be legally liable for something, and that insurance was somehow required to cover this.

I have made fairly extensive enquiries in this area, including speaking to the top man in UK's top GA insurer, and nothing whatsoever suggests that the principle of PIC=PIC could ever be set aside.

If it could be set aside, then "you" (say a 50hr PPL) carrying a passenger (say a 10,000hr ATP) could have a prang and the passenger would get done for allowing it.

This AFAIK has never happened anywhere, and would make a mockery out of the ICAO crew licensing system.

In the USA, I believe the FAA has taken post-accident action against an instructor who was flying as a passenger, but that is different because of the fairly obvious presumption (right or wrong) that he was instructing.

I am not any kind of lawyer but I do think that a mentor who has instructor qualifications could be liable in the UK too, and he would certainly be vulnerable to the "real pilot" making a false allegation that instruction was taking place - a not implausible scenario given that the "real pilot" would stand to make a lot of personal-injury money out of it.

IMHO, and I have no inside knowledge, AOPA needed the insurance to cover itself. This is because by imposing the AOPA membership etc requirement they are now acting as an "introduction/vetting agency" for mentors, and obviously are liable. Same as an internet dating site which claimed to be doing criminal and psychological checks on its members would be liable if one of them turned out to be a mad axe murderer

So the formalisation of the mentoring scheme is what has made it much less workable.

Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

In my opinion, post-PPL GA in the UK seems to lack purpose.

Sure, some people go off and do aerobatics, but that's not for everyone.

The majority of newly qualified PPLs I come into contact with are going for a one-hour bimble in an aircraft rented from the school they learned at. The schools are happy to rent at the moment, because there are fewer new-starts (I suspect) at the moment. Renters are going to get tired of one-hour jaunts pretty quickly.

There seems to be little opportunity for them to do anything else, for reasons outlined elsewhere in this thread. Not everyone can afford to buy a share and even that no guarantee, as there are no shares for sale at the airfield I fly from - which is normal.

I think if was easier to make practical use of a PPL, fewer people would drop out.

EGTT, The London FIR

I see two main factors:

1: Cost. Unless you get into a share, or hook up with another pilot to share trips with, you wont reduce costs or extend trip possibilities. I was not very forward in hooking up with others, and had flown to SouthEnd more times than EasyJet have these days (only because it was in my ££ radius). Getting into a share made that happen, and that gave me the drive to do new things, go further and not get bored.

2: Despondance. With weather, planes going tech, equipment not working, planes still in the air when the time is ticking away for your 2 hour slot and other shenanigans. I heard one pilot (who was a fairly seasoned tourer) recently sold his plane because he got fed up with the beaurocracy of flight planning and so on. Some get to the point where the hassle of flying outweighs the joy.

Yes; there is a bit of a knack to structuring one's flying so the enjoyment:hassle ratio is kept at the right level.

Aviation will always be full of hassle on the ground, and AFAICT has been full of hassle since sometime after WW2.

I can make an interesting observation on IFR:

When I started IR training in 2005, and when I got the 1st IR in 2006, IFR was an absolute PITA. Eurocontrol route planning (a fact of life since about 1995 I think) was really horrid.

The best facility for private pilots was an Italian site designed apparently for flight simmers. Whoever ran (and runs) this site had seemingly abandoned it years ago, but it would eventually produce a route acceptable to the computer in Brussels.

I recall sitting on the ground at some airport in Germany, with a laptop connected to the internet (9.6k) trying to produce a route to get back home before Shoreham shut, and before the battery went flat.

Eurocontrol resisted opening up the system, under pressure from Jeppesen and others to protect their bizjet flight support services revenue (an insider there told me so).

Their hand was eventually forced in 2008 with Autoplan (which is now abandoned).

Today, IFR route planning is trivial, with FPP. Now, if you want to fly from say Shoreham to say Split in Croatia, in 25 seconds you have


and this is already validated. That's actually quite a scenic route... similar to this.

So some aspects of "going places" have never been so easy.

And VFR flight planning is trivial and has been since I got my PPL in 2001, with software tools like Navbox and more recently Skydemon.

Contacting airports and getting notams and weather is also trivial, if you have a laptop with mobile internet. OTOH, if you haven't got that, you will struggle and that is probably a big change for many.

I've seen a few seasoned pilots sell up for good because they are flying on FAA papers and are too old and tired to do the EASA equivalents, as threatened for 2014.

The absolutely best thing anybody can do is, as soon as practically possible, get into a syndicate. Or better still set one up with a bunch of like minded mates. The less time you hang around the self fly hire scene, the better.

Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

I think you are right Peter. One major issue of aviation is the gigantic overhead. Planning the flight, driving to the airfield, getting the aircraft ready, flying somewhere, getting from the airfield to the place where one actually wanted to go, etc.

However, as you say that has improved dramatically thanks to the internet and mobile devices. Not too long ago, a XC trip was a major planning effort, mail ordering maps, putting them on the floor and drawing lines, filling out flight logs, calling airfields or even relying on others for information about flying in foreign countries because it was not widely available.

Now it's almost always a piece of cake. Everything available online and on mobile devices, a flight plan done in 3 minutes, great situational awareness during the flight.

European integration has also come a long way. Today, flying in countries like the Czech Republic or Croatia is just like flying in my home country. In no way it means more stress or requires more preparation. Not too long ago, a German PPL seeking an adventure in a foreign country would fly to Austria...

And of course Schengen is the greatest thing since sliced bread.

Schengen is the greatest thing since sliced bread

Yes and No

I reckon it is causing a lot of airports to either give up Customs totally (as in France) or go "Customs PNR Xhrs" where X is gradually increasing.

Given that the 3 biggest GA arenas in Europe are Germany, UK and France, and the UK is not in Schengen and never will be, this does cause a problem for the UK pilots, and of course for everybody else if they want to visit the UK.

The solution, of course, is a long range aircraft

Which is another thing: if you have a choice between two syndicates, one operating a plane with a 500nm range and the other one with a 1000nm range, and you want to see Europe, go for the latter! It totally transforms the ease of doing it.

Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom
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