The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

 First the good news: More pilots and specifically a lot more student pilots. The facts and stats of GAMA indicate that the pilot population is not only ahead of the 15 year average (615,400) but hasn’t been this high for seven years. Strange that in 2009, instructors outnumbered active student certificates by 22,583.  The 2010 increase is a significant development given the moribund economy.  

The bad news is general aviation flight activity fell by 10 percent in 2009 but accidents dropped only 5 percent. Worse, even with reduced flight hours, we’re killing ourselves more often. The number of fatal accidents and the number of individual fatalities increased slightly to 233 and 401, The number of fatal accidents increased 4 percent. The Nall report has it all summarized. That’s why the FAA is launching a safety standdown which began April 2. As usual, the culprit is pilot error with the top ten listed as:

  1. Loss of Control in flight while maneuvering
  2. Loss of Control in flight during initial climb
  3. Aerodynamic stall or spin while maneuvering  during low altitude flying
  4. Low altitude operation or event while maneuvering during low altitude flying
  5. Controlled Flight into Terrain/object (CFIT) during enroute cruise
  6. Aerodynamic stall or spin during initial climb
  7. Visual Flight Rules (VFR) encounter with IMC during enroute
  8. Loss of Control in flight during enroute cruise
  9. Loss of Control in flight while maneuvering during low altitude flying
  10. Collision with terrain or an object (non-CFIT) while maneuvering during low altitude

The ugly? General Aviation shipments continued to drop for the third straight year, decreasing 11.4% to 2,015 units in 2010. Piston deliveries were down 7.7% with 889 delivered. Turboprops declined 17.7%, with 363. Bizjets decreased 12.3% with 763 out the door.  There’s good news though. As mentioned, the student pilot numbers are way up, flight activity is increasing and corporate profits + tax policy toward business aviation is expected to make this a growth year. It’s time to get aircraft manufacturers back in the black before another one gets sold to the Chinese.


6 responses to “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

  1. I wonder how many of those new instructors are nervous FOs organising a back up plan in case of furlough?

    • It could be a back up plan but unfortunatley, the pay is even lower than FO pay.
      “AvJobs” suggests that CFI’s who actually teach comprise only 20% of the total. Most pilots want that credential as part of their resume and hope like heck they never need to use it.
      Professional flying is a tough gig until you move up the line. Most of my flight instructors wanted to make it in the airlines but have moved on to other careers but there is a pilots shortage looming. Boeing executives say that over the next two decades there will be an estimated 30,000 more planes in the sky worldwide and that 466,650 pilots will be needed to fly them.

  2. I’m trying to decide if I’m going to get my instructor rating to teach my kids to fly or leave it to a professional. Probably a lot less yelling involved if someone else is in the right seat.

    • Yup- like teaching them how to drive only a lot more difficult.
      I’d like to have all three sons learn to fly (they were certified to dive) but not all are interested.

      If you don’t do the formal CFI training, they can still learn enough from you to accelerate getting their ticket.

      What do they like better? Flying in or jumping out?

  3. So far I’ve only taken my 16 year old daughter skydiving, she loved it! My 14 year old son can’t wait to jump but I think I’ll make him wait another year. I don’t want to ruin him just yet. Once you make a jump everything else is down hill!

    • My youngest son loved it and SN2 wants to give it a try. I’m not yet ready but maybe someday. Might be a good father/ son excursion.
      Know any good skydive operators in the Wisconsin area? 🙂

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