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Why is General Aviation declining?

Litigation has been a factor in the US, to the point they had to introduce legislation to try and protect the industry. The industry virtually shut down in the 1990’s until the GA Revitalisation Act. Litigation is now making maintenance complicated as some A&P are limiting what they are willing to sign off, and even the Homebuilt kit industry is getting lawsuits.

I certainly switched to VFR econo mode once lo-cost arrived in Europe. There used to be a time not so long ago (fifteen, twenty years ago) when IFR might have a direct cost similar to a business full fare, and for some destinations would be more convenient – eg Eastern Europe before WizzAir. AvGas was cheap, generally duty free, and major airports were accessible and very cheap.

Enstone (EGTN), Oxford (EGTK)

I could go on for hours about this

GA was killed by cheap airline tickets

But that’s because its become cheaper to operate commercial aircraft whereas there has been no developments to make GA cheaper to operate.

You don’t see Ryanair using 707’s do you.

Bathman wrote:

whereas there has been no developments to make GA cheaper to operate.

I don’t agree on this point as long as you don’t exclude the non certified GA.


IMHO GA in certified airplanes is declining because it’s simply too expensive.

Still three of the people i once took for their first airplane ride did their PPL. But to own a nice certified airplane is definitely crazy. I don’t care, I always knew I’m crazy, and at the moment i can afford it, but a person with a normal income simply cannot do it. Many people I know really have other problems .. like paying their rent.

Flyer59 wrote:

IMHO GA in certified airplanes is declining because it’s simply too expensive.

Expensive compared to other activities yes. Expensive compared to the average household income, no. Airplane operating costs relative to household income have not changed significantly in the last few decades.

What has changed is the number of people who think that spending say 30% of their disposable income on aviation is a smart use of leisure money. There are a million new ways to spend money which are more attractive to most people than a personal aircraft.

achimha wrote:

average household income

Average as in ‘mode’, or average as in ‘median’?

I’m a medical doctor owning an aircraft that is worth about 6000 pounds. It costs me a lot more than 30% of my disposable income!


In 1978 may father bought a 4 year old Piper Warrior for DM 60.000
His monthly income as a sales manager was around DM 10.000 (edited, NOT net!)

So, the cost of flying relative to income has not changed?

Hmmm ….

Last Edited by at 16 Nov 09:24

Peter wrote:

an IR, which in Europe has always been a very small

Small, buit not “very”. Substantially many more people had IRs before the “gold plated” JAA IR. In my club I would estimate two or three times as many as today.

The UK has always been a special case because of the IMC rating.

ESKC (Uppsala/Sundbro), Sweden

In 1949 a new Beech Bonanza was $ 7900
The average income of an American the same year was around $ 4000 p.a. (corrected from 3200)

(sorrry, had to correct the median income twice, all sources i found say between 3600 and 5300)

Last Edited by at 16 Nov 09:37

In the 50-70s the GA market was rapidly expanding meaning the used market was not large enough to supply the pilots. Ever since then, the used market supplies 90+% of the population. The typical cost of airplane acquisition hasn’t really increased and neither has the cost of operating them relative to disposable income.

I look at all those 60 to 70 year old (former) airplane owners around here. They most often spent almost their complete discretionary play money on the airplane, for decades. They basically lived on the airfield, built clubhouses with big beer fridges and frequented the place every minute off work. Nobody is interested to do that anymore, the beer in our clubhouse fridge is usually stale. The money is available like never before (look at all the fancy cars and expensive holidays) — GA has just become mostly uninteresting.

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