General Aviation Factoids

General Aviation is defined as all aviation other than military and scheduled commercial airlines. The 2020, General Aviation Manufacturers Association fiftieth anniversary report contains a number of GA factoids. For example,

GA includes over 440,000 aircraft flying worldwide today, ranging from two-seat training and utility helicopters to transcontinental business jets, of which 211,000 aircraft are based in the United States and over 133,000 in Europe.

GA supports $247 billion in total economic output and 1.2 million total jobs in the United States.

Aviators Reelin in the Years 2019

Here’s a summary of U.S. pilots by generation just “reelin’ in the years, and stowin’ away the time.” The FAA U.S. pilot population statistics were used to group pilots as close as possible into each generation.

Generation Age Group StatsPercentage
Silent Generation74-91         24,931 4%
Baby Boomers~55-74       184,786 28%
Generation X39-54       156,288 24%
Millennials23-38       206,823 31%
Generation Z7-22         91,735 14%
Total        664,563 100%
Summary by generation of FAA Statistics on Pilot licenses 2019.

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U.S. Pilot Population by Age 2019

For 2019, GAMA reported the FAA pilot population by age and certificate ratings. Here’s the summary by age group:

Age GroupTotal Pilots
14-15              465 
16-19         21,229 
20-24         70,041 
25-29         78,366 
30-34         66,742 
35-39         61,715 
40-44         52,044 
45-49         49,602 
50-54         54,642 
55-59         60,477 
60-64         55,915 
65-69         40,269 
70-74         28,125 
75-79         15,628 
80 & over           9,303 
Total       664,563 
Summary by generation FAA Statistics on Pilot licenses 2019.

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U.S. Pilot Population is Growing 2019

For 2019, GAMA reported annual aviator stats as follows: Active student pilot certificates reached 197,665, which was a 17.8% increase over the prior year. The number of Commercial and Airline Transport Pilot certificates also increased to 100,863 and 164,947 respectively. The number of Private Pilot Licenses dropped by 2% to 161,105.

The bulk of primary pilot training occurs in general aviation aircraft. FAA data shows more people are seeking flight training and obtaining pilot certificates.

The population of females holding U.S. pilot certificates climbed to 7.9%, one of the highest ratios on record for a total of 52,740 certificates.

FAA Data2019
Student Pilots       197,665 
Private Pilots       161,105 
Commercial       100,863 
ATP       164,947 
Total       624,580 
Summary FAA Statistics on Pilot Certificates 2019; excludes recreational & sport pilots licenses.

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Air Traffic Modernization Milestones 2020

GAMA’s annual report provided a brief update on an important milestone for U.S. Air Traffic Control modernization, which was reached January 1, 2020 when the automatic dependent surveillance – broadcast (ADS-B) mandate went into effect. Over 108,000 aircraft were equipped with ADS-B when the mandate went into effect. But the GAMA annual report did not summarize the overall ADS-B compliance rate in the U.S.

As of July 1, 2020 the FAA is reporting 142,000 aircraft equipped but only 129,000 are good installs. FAA data excludes experimental and Light Sport Aircraft.

There are approximately 212,000 aircraft in the U.S. General Aviation Fleet (excluding commercial and military aircraft). So, it appears the compliance rate is currently about 60% for ADS-B. Still a lot of work left to do.

Source: PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, “Contributions of General Aviation to the US Economy in 2018,” PWC, Published 2020, page 6.

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GA Economic Impact Factoid

According to the PricewaterhouseCoopers, report on GA economic impact, “At the national level, each direct job in general aviation supported 3.3 jobs elsewhere in the economy.” Nationwide 273,500 full and part-time workers were directly employed in general aviation in 2018. In total, GA’s direct employment supported 1.2 million jobs and $247 billion in economic output. About a 3.3 to 1 ratio.

Economic activities by pilots also have direct, indirect, induced and enabled impacts among related businesses in the economy. It’s an hypothesis that the related business to pilot ratio is similar to that found in the PWC report (3.3 to 1). Therefore, the number of related businesses to pilots would be greater than 1 to 1. There are 633,000 pilots registered with the FAA.

Reference: PricewaterhouseCoopers, “Contribution of General Aviation to the U.S. Economy in 2018,” GAMA’s State of the Industry Press Conference, February 19, 2020.

General Aviation Manufacturers Association Celebrates 50 Years (1970 – 2020)

In 1970, the General Aviation Manufacturers Association was formed to foster and advance the general welfare, safety, interests, and activities of general aviation. GAMA has grown to become a premier advocate for general aviation manufacturers, their suppliers, and businesses that maintain, repair and overhaul general aviation aircraft around the world.

GAMA’s annual report has become the industry resource for GA data. Over the next several weeks, we’ll share factoids excerpted from the 50th anniversary report.

Congratulations to GAMA for 50 years of service, support and contributions to general aviation community.

Contribution of General Aviation to the US Economy

In February 2020, PricewaterhouseCoopers released their report on GA contribution to the US Economy. The economic impact of the general aviation industry was measured in terms of employment, labor income, output, and value-added. 2018 was the most recent year for which full, consistent national and state level data was available.

GA directly employed 273,500 full and part-time workers. Including indirect, induced and enabled impacts GA supported 1.2 million jobs and $247 billion in output.

GA generated $77 billion in labor income and contributed $128 billion to US gross domestic product (GDP). At a national level, each direct job in GA supported 3.3 jobs elsewhere in the economy.

References: “Contribution of General Aviation to the US Economy in 2018,” PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, February 2020.

What are the GA Flight Hours by Aircraft Type and Reason in the United States

In 2018, total General Aviation flight hours were 25.5 million. PricewaterhouseCoopers divided GA flight hours into four categories: Personal, Business without a Paid Crew; Business with a Paid Professional Crew and Other.

Personal: Included operation of GA aircraft for personal and recreational reasons. The pilots of personal-use aircraft are typically the owner and PWC assumed that owners tie-down their aircraft rather than rent hangar space (which under estimates the economic impact of personal-use GA aircraft because many owners rent hangar space). About 7.7 million or 30% of GA flight hours were for personal flight.

Business without Paid Crew: Typically flown by the owner of the aircraft who is not paid for flight operations. It’s assumed that owners rent space in a shared hangar and pay business insurance rates on the aircraft.

Business with Paid Professional Crew: Owners of such aircraft are assumed by PWC to rent a hangar, pay a lower business insurance rate, and hire professional pilot and flight crew. Air taxi and air medical services are assumed to have this cost profile. About 31% or 7.8 million GA hours were for business purposes. Business-use with a paid crew accounts for the majority (79%) of turboprop and jet-powered airplane hours.

Other: Included flight instruction, aerial applications in agriculture and other industries, aerial observation, and sight-seeing. It’s assumed “other-use” aircraft operate with a paid pilot but no paid crew. This large grouping included about 10 million hours or 39% of all GA flight hours. And, represented the majority (61%) of flight hours for rotorcraft.

Source: PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, “Contributions of General Aviation to the US Economy in 2018,” PWC, Published 2020, page 6.

Table 1: GA Hours by Aircraft Type and Reason in 2018

PersonalBus. w/o Paid CrewBus. w/ Paid CrewOtherHours
Piston Airplanes          5,790                  1,103                   551           6,342         13,786 
Turboprop             219                     192                1,176           1,149           2,736 
Jet-Powered             459                     230                3,582              321           4,592 
Helicopters               88                       29                  847           1,929           2,922 
Experimental          1,071                       67                    13              187           1,339 
Other               77                       29                      1                54              131 
Total          7,704                  1,649                6,171           9,982         25,506 

PricewaterhouseCoopers was engaged by the general aviation industry trade associations to help quantify the contribution of GA to the United States economy. PWC defined General Aviation as the manufacture and operation of any type of aircraft issued an airworthiness certificate by the FAA, excluding military operations and scheduled commercial airlines.

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