Aviators' Thoughts

My job search and business aviation as seen on AviationWeek

General Aviation Under Attack (Again!)

with one comment

As if this last year wasnt bad enough, General Aviation is under attack again! This time the culprit is ignorant reporting from USA Today. As many have read, apparently billions of taxpayer dollars are being “wasted” on the 5000 or so small airports in this country that do not have scheduled airline service. The tone of the article talked about the 15 billion or so spent on small airports over the last 10 years, how general aviation pilots fly “in leisure” while the rest of the flying public deals with delays, security lines and endless TSA regulations. No opposing view was represented in the article, even though AOPA and NBAA had learned about the article a week before and had given the reporter their commentary on it.

This type of article is exactly what all business and general aviation pilots need to rally against. Though AOPA and NBAA gave their views, they should have been WELL ahead of this story and its tone. I have argued for months that the main problem facing GA is that we are too busy preaching to “Joe Pilot” when we need to change the hearts and minds of “Joe Blow”..here are just a few of the reasons why.

– General Aviation in America is a 150 BILLION DOLLAR business. Far from the domain of “fat cat” executives or “rich” single engine piston pilots. General aviation supports hundred of thousands of hard-working average people. That 150 billion goes almost directly into the American economy. The ripple effects from general and business aviation industry and manufacturing echo throughout the United States. Most of the new pilots that fly the big Airlines into the “deserving” airports started their careers in GA. What happens if we destroy that industry? GA also creates the “high paying, high wage” jobs that the politicians love to preach about. These people buy houses, cars and other things that come with a good income which in turns benefits others. Now thousands of these people (like me) are out of work and the unemployed dont spend a lot of money.

– The United States leads the WORLD in business and general aviation aircraft manufacture. This is truly one of the last industries where we are unmatched and yet some people want to destroy one of the last bastions of American leadership. I just learned today that Cessna’s newest GA product flew for the first time…IN CHINA!! Should we just give up on our technological leadership in this field? How many more industries do we have to lose that employ the American people? If you ever have time..visit the factories in Wichita or Savannah that make those “luxury jets” that this nation flies. You will find them full (or half full these days) of hard working Americans that make the best product in the world, but we are determined to shoot ourselves in the foot. We should also remember that many new technologies that have greatly enhanced the safety of flight started in General Aviation, which is quicker to adapt to new technologies MUCH faster than the airlines.

– About those small airports that dont seem important? Perhaps the author of the USA Today article should have thought how those airports serve America. Firstly many small and large businesses use the general aviation airport structure to employ thousands of support, manufacturing and service people. Secondly, perhaps the next time the author needs an organ transplant, or perhaps keep his house from burning down due to a wildfire or need rescue from a flood or natural disaster he might want to think about that small “useless” airport. Imagine only the “large” airports in operation. When a person needs a life-saving heart transplant, should we tell that person that “sorry it wont happen because the airplane is stuck at LAX airport for 3 hours” or tell a homeowner in CA as a wildfire approaches that “the tanker isnt going to make it today to douse the fire”. Most search and rescue for lost hikers, accident victims and downed airplanes (large and small) are sourced from small aircraft and helicopters in these “useless airports”  Many of these airports also act as relievers for the larger airports. Imagine if the small and business planes were all forced to use only the large airports. You think your delays are bad now? Just wait!

Lastly, what about the private pilots flying “in leisure” not paying their “fair share”…hardly. What many fail to realize, especially USAToday is that private and business aviators pay a myriad of fees and taxes including: landing fees, tiedown fees, use fees, hangar fees and fuel and other taxes that contribute to the general fund. These fees contribute BILLIONS to all aviation large and small. In fact airlines and large airports account for over 80 percent of all monies spent from the general fund. This goes to only 159 large airports. The other 20 percent is spread over the 5000 small airports. 

It’s easy to attack an industry when you have only one side of the facts. I invite USA  Today to ask someone in the GA industry to balance their story with a reporting of the facts. I challenge NBAA and AOPA to not let up on taking USA Today to task. GA doesnt need any more bad press, its wasnt deserved before and its especially not deserved now. Its time to save this industry before it’s too late.


Written by tdwnds1

September 22, 2009 at 6:47 am

One Response

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  1. I don’t usually reply to posts but I will in this case, great info…I will add a backlink and bookmark your site. Keep up the good work!


    September 30, 2009 at 5:16 pm

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