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GA activity and its decline

Certainly one would expect those pilots with the least committment (for whatever reason) or the most financially constrained to give up first.

Another factor which might support UK activity, without showing up in PPL issue numbers, is the UK-only NPPL. However this is unclear as to its contribution. When the NPPL was originally talked about some years ago, much was made of it revitalising GA but instead what happened is that most (about 2/3) of the NPPL applicants were existing PPLs who could no longer get / did not wish to renew their Class 2 medical so they just moved to the NPPL.

This also had the useful side effect that the CAA could no longer target pilots who stopped renewing their medicals but were still “seen around” flying The FAA PPL (which could be used the same way, for a fairly narrow band of pilots who could not get the CAA Class 2 but could get the FAA Class 3) had the same effect but in a more provocative manner, obviously.

And that’s another thing… maybe a number moved to the FAA system.

Last Edited by Peter at 02 Jun 06:57
Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

In my world, costs to own and fly your own plane have decreased a little in real terms over the last ten years and I have nothing to complain about: the cost of the planes is going down, hangars are available if you look around where it used to be years of waiting, the scene is pretty active and self sustaining between individuals.

Even in your part of the world, private flying is >80% old white men. It’s still a much larger community than over here — because it was able to grow much bigger in the golden era in the 1970s but the development is exactly the same. We might be able to slow down the decline but I am convinced there is no way to reverse the trend — simply because the hobby has lost most of its attractiveness.

And that’s another thing… maybe a number moved to the FAA system.

And likewise some of those with FAA certificates in the US stopped renewing their medicals and kept flying on Sport Pilot rules. They are now out of any system that can be tracked because medical renewals are the only tracking on use of FAA pilot certificates.

Most hobbies I’ve had haven’t had mass appeal, you might even say I’ve actively avoided those kinds of activities. In the cases where the masses have later caught on, the quality of my experience has actually decreased. Flying is good for me right now because there’s a lot of nice hardware to go around and the people involved are often enthusiastic and knowledgeable. Reminds me of European motorcycles in the 80s and early 90s.

simply because the hobby has lost most of its attractiveness.

I disagree if that was proposed as an objective statement, because this depends on what you value in life.

A lot of people like flying. Me for example.

GA is largely “old men” everywhere. For a start, one usually doesn’t have the money to fly until one is well established financially, which for most people doesn’t happen till their 40s or 50s. Most don’t have the support of their spouse, even more so if there are small children in the family, so it has to wait till life has stabilised. For many people (me included) is becomes possible only after the divorce (or the first divorce ) because it is usually only at that point in life that one chooses one’s partner properly, avoiding those who don’t like most of the things that you like Or you do it after the divorce but before you meet your next partner, so the next partner is presented with a fait accompli which is always the best way It is a sad reflection on human life but there we are… It is also only then that one has the copious time to get one’s head around all the paperwork collection crap that flying involves.

Very few “young” people (say under 30) ever flew. When I was at university, 1975-1978, I met exactly one, aged about 20, who had a PPL. Unless one strikes it really rich, or has very supportive parents, one isn’t going to have the money to fly at that age – regardless of enthusiasm. I was paying for my younger son’s lessons (and he would have ended up a very lucky kid) until it became obvious he would not start on the books, so it was dropped… It’s true that for the young generation there is now much else distracting them, but they never formed a significant % of the pilot population anyway.

Last Edited by Peter at 02 Jun 08:08
Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

Peter, when I said “demographics” I referred to the >80% white old men achim mentions – not US demographics as a whole.

Yes, population as a whole is increasing, but the utility value and the “wow-factor” of our hobby is decreasing, hence a drop in numbers. Even Silvaire attests to it: ownership costs lower (lower demand – prices go down), hangars widely available (why would that be?) and 50% of the students are foreign (so much for a growing US pool of future pilots)…

Even in your part of the world, private flying is >80% old white men.

Certainly not the case where I do most of my flying these days, KSMO. it’s quite refreshing to see people in there 20s and 30s going flying, and quite a number of girls too.

[quote fixed]

Last Edited by Peter at 02 Jun 09:56
Last Edited by 172driver at 02 Jun 08:44

Recently I’ve noticed a big increase in Asian students in the US, I understand on fixed price ‘zero to hero’ contracts. Otherwise while a lot of the homebuilders are retired guys with the time and money to do their own thing, the rest is a mix. I can’t see a reason for negativity here, other than perhaps the love of negativity.

PS Hangars in my area are not “widely available” but as I said are now available if you look around a bit where before it was very difficult. I would say 99.5% occupancy versus 100% with a three year waiting list. Nobody is losing money renting hangars.

Last Edited by Silvaire at 02 Jun 10:05

It’s true that for the young generation there is now much else distracting them, but they never formed a significant % of the pilot population anyway.

It was different some time ago. When I started flying (with 16!), there were plenty of young people around and a few middle aged.
We had to queue for a flight. I remember that I spent a whole day at the airfield for 3 flights. We were around 25 student pilots, today there is none!
I had to earn the money for it, so I worked most Saturdays to afford flying.
I had a computer at that time (VC20), but this was a far cry what kids have today.
They just don’t make an effort. I had books about planes and flying as soon I could read.
I still can remember the first time I was on an airfield (Eichstaett), I was behind the fence with 6 years and was fascinated with the planes.
20 years later I flew from that airfield when I studied at the university at Eichstaett.

I’m not white yet. lol

United Kingdom

That is only on CAA licenses, not FAA licenses, but fairly soon they will all have to get CAA licenses (and medicals) – or give up flying for ever (or move outside the EU, etc). That figure is not verified by the AME; it is just given by the pilot. But it is probably fairly accurate.

Or fly a permit aircraft (the CAA’s license rules continue to apply for non-EASA types)

I think some of the problem will be that it’s probably going to be harder to get training with the new EASA FTO rules (for example, the only flight training here will be going away for good next year). If we look to see what happened to motorcycling when the EU increased the difficulty of getting training, the number of motorcycle licenses issued collapsed the next year. I can’t find any stats right now but I remember at the time it was something around a 50% drop in bike licenses which is pretty astonishing.

Without convenient, non-bureaucratic ways to get flight training, the same thing might happen to GA. The costs are already high enough and they are being made higher (I think the guys doing flight training here are packing up because it was going to put an additional £20K worth of costs on his operation, which just weren’t sustainable for him).

Unless someone can persuade EASA to make good on their promise to reduce needless regulatory burden, then CofA GA will inevitably decline more rapidly as it becomes harder to get the training and people are put off by the formality of it. If they really want to fly they’ll end up on microlights or flying Permit-to-Fly aircraft outside the EASA system.

On the positive side the CAA seems to be changing. SSDRs would have been unthinkable not so long ago. Hopefully we’ll see the implementation of the recommendations in the red tape challenge report.

Andreas IOM

Yes – an excellent point. The pilot of a G-reg Annex II plane can fly it worldwide (with the usual permissions from each airspace, as currently) on an FAA PPL plus FAA Class 3 medical. And I can’t see the CAA terminating this anytime soon.

And if Annex II get IFR, the FAA PPL/IR should also work (though you will need significant avionics for Eurocontrol IFR, due to equipment carriage requirements)

Last Edited by Peter at 02 Jun 10:10
Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom
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