Fight For General Aviation Now!

posted in: Flight Operations | 1

Hello general aviation community,

As I sit down and put together a plan for the future of our company I start gathering data that depresses me. Before I start spitting out information I want to encourage all that a deep love will motivate us to move forward even in the hardest times.


Lets start with the bad news:

Recent GAMA reports show overall production of general aviation aircraft down from 2,331 in 2015 to 2,262 in 2016. Overall the piston engine fleet has shown a steady decline since 2006! Looking at some of the GAMA information it seems we have not recovered from the 2008 economic recession. To look at the bigger picture for the piston guys, we haven’t recovered from the early 1980’s piston production crash.


  1. The forecast for FAA part 91 and 135 flight hours from GAMA don’t paint a beautiful picture either:

2016-2025 average growth rates

Piston Forecast: -.9%

Turbo Prop Forecast: -.1%

Business Jet Forecast: 1.3%


2. Moving to pilot stats. Private and commercial pilots have been on the down turn since 1980! While the ATP pilots have seen progress during this time frame:

Number of registered pilots from 1980-2016


Private Pilot : 357,479 down to 162,313

Commercial Pilot: 183,442 down to 96,081

ATP Pilot: 69,569 up to 157,894

Stats show airlines are growing and general aviation is declining (in general).


Now to the good news (always leave on a good note)


  1. FAA part 23 is going through a major overhaul. Part 23 encompasses the certification process for aircraft and components. The rule is going through a re-write which started in 2013 when president Obama signed into law the Small Airplane Revitalization Act (SARA). This will loosen the burden of regulation imposed on aircraft suppliers and manufactures. Many industry leaders are optimistic of the new rule.


2. Student Pilots are up from last year 122,729 to 128,501.


3. New technology is being researched:

The FAA is working with two fuel companies on the development of a 100LL lead free replacement.

Piston diesel technology continues to see efforts to increase production of this type of power plant.


My question is, are the golden days of general aviation gone for good? Or can we bring them back? I say we’ve been in a low for too long and its time to start climbing the ladder!


Lets pledge one good deed to the growth of general aviation. An extra hour of flight, going to a convention, become involved politically, or just simply voicing your love for the industry to someone. For some cost is an issue, but in every american adventure there are issues, its the way we overcome that define the future.


Every little bit helps, keep on flying!

Michael Sawyer

Winterset Aviation Services Inc.





  1. Paul Berge, CFII

    I’ve been busy lately teaching in Cessnas, Pipers (short win and not), Aeroncas…even a Funk. We’re headed out Saturday to do a pre-purchase inspection on a Citabria. If it turns out well, that’ll be available for tailwheel training. Haven’t had time to notice if GA is failing. Gave a young Marine his first flying lesson this weekend, and he left with logbook in hand, headed back to California, looking toward a future with wings. I have a 14-year-old student who flies once-a-month, knowing that he can’t solo for another 22 months. The fire is there. The future will burn blight, if we keep fanning the flames and ignore the naysayers.

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