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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