Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Aviation's Future Looks Better

G eneral aviation is currently a major part of our economy. General aviation currently accounts for nearly 33 million jobs and $1.5 tri... thumbnail 1 summary

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General aviation is currently a major part of our economy. General aviation currently accounts for nearly 33 million jobs and $1.5 trillion GDP (Norton, 2009) with nearly 229,149 registered aircraft (Wilson, 2010). It
directly or indirectly benefits almost every sector of the American economy. Despite government interference and higher taxes, general aviation is hopeful for the future (AOPA, 2010).

In the last few years, the economy has been in a slump. With the economic downside, the general aviation industry has also been suffering. Gas prices have been higher than ever, grounding thousands of general aviation pilots and causing corporations to use more cost efficient forms of transportation such as ground transportation or the use of air carriers. With the change to more cost efficient forms of transportation, the general aviation industry is slightly sinking, but new technology and high hopes for the future are creating a positive impact.

As the economy gets better throughout the next few years, the future of general aviation is "hopeful." According to the FAA's forecast, the general aviation aircraft fleet will increase by about 50,000 aircraft and 52,000 pilots by 2030. As more pilots take to the skies, the number of hours flown by general aviation are expected to climb to about 38.9 million hours in 2030 from 23.3 million in 2009 (Wilson, 2010). As the amount of active aircraft and pilots increase, the economical dependence and benefits will rise with it. According to Oxford Economics, approximately 50 million jobs and $3.6 trillion of the world's GDP will depend on general aviation by 2026 (Norton, 2009).

Technological advancements are going to be very important in the future as more aircraft take to the skies. NextGen technologies are going to pave the way for future general aviation safety and efficiency. Glass cockpits and improved navigation systems will increase safety while new fuel technologies will increase efficiency and lower costs.

The major change to air navigation comes with a new and more accurate air traffic control system. The new air traffic control system will be satellite-based, which is more accurate than the current ground-based radar
system (Wood, 2010). This system, known as ADS-B (Automatic Dependent Surveillance Broadcast), will provide air-to-air surveillance capability. This means that both the pilots and air traffic controllers will have the ability to see radar-like displays with highly accurate data from satellites (FAA, 2008). ADS-B will greatly increase safety for all of aviation. Pilots will be able to locate other aircraft in their vicinity and make practical maneuvers to avoid collisions with more reasonable time to react.

Another major change that NextGen technology is bringing is advancement in noise reduction and reduced fuel burn and carbon emissions. Pratt and Whitney is currently creating an engine that will save approximately 20% fuel burn for larger aircraft. The increased fuel efficiency, faster transportation, and reduced carbon emissions will encourage people to fly more. The NextGen technologies combined with aircraft will not replace any other forms of transportation in the future, but with the advancements of technology, people will be more likely to fly, rather than drive long distances.

In the next ten years general aviation will create thousands of jobs. There will be hundreds of different types of jobs becoming available for current students. These jobs range from corporate pilots, to medical air transportation, to private charter pilots. Since most of the jobs will be opening up over the next 5-10 years, the chances of current students of getting a job after graduation is greater than the current job offerings (FAA, 2008).

General Aviation plays an important role in our economy. It directly or indirectly affects almost every industry in the world. The future outlook for general aviation looks good, especially with an increasing economic status.


AOPA. (2010). General Aviation Serves America. Retrieved April 3, 2010 , from http://www.gaservesamerica.com

FAA. (2008, September 23). Surveillance and Broadcast Services. Retrieved April 3, 2010, from Federal Aviation Administration: http://www.faa.gov/about/office_org/headquarters_offices/ato/service_units/enroute/surveillance_broadcast/

Norton, T. (2009, June 16). 50 Million Aviation Jobs, $3.6 Trillion GDP by 2026. Retrieved April 3, 2010, from General Aviation News: http://www.generalaviationnews.com/?p=9490

Wilson, B. (2010). General Aviation Poised for Growth, FAA Forecast Says. The Weekly of Business Aviation, 90 (11), 117.

Wood, J. (2010, March 9). Forecast Links NextGen and National Economic Growth. Retrieved April 3, 2010, from General Aviation News: http://www.generalaviationnews.com/?p=20131