General Aviation Information and Statistics

AOPA General Aviation Trends

Fourth quarter, 2008

Executive Summary—

The fourth quarter of 2008 saw mixed results in terms of flight activity, pilot certification, aircraft shipments and aviation safety.  All comparisons are based on quarterly comparisons from 2007 to 2008.

Flight Activity

Overall, measures of flight activity were down compared to the previous year.  Center activity fell behind last year’s figures by 19%, while activity at towers decreased by 45%.  YTD numbers for center and tower operations are the lowest they’ve been in ten years.

Total gallons of AV Gas sold fell behind last year’s fourth quarter numbers by 14%.  The average regional price for a gallon of Avgas fell by $0.09 to $4.68 as compared to December 2007, when it was $4.77 (Excluding Hawaii and Alaska) as reported by 100LL.com.

Pilot Certification

Trends in certificate issuances varied when compared to 2007.  Several areas of pilot issuances experienced increases during the fourth quarter of 2008:  Privates (up 6%), Commercials (up 27%), CFIs (up 3%), Instrument Ratings (up 13%), and Sport Pilot (up 6%).  Other pilot issuances experienced declines during the fourth quarter of 2008:  Students (down 27%) and ATPs (down 33%).

Aircraft Shipments

Total U.S. shipments of general aviation aircraft (including Single-Engine Piston, Multi-Engine Piston, Turboprops, and Business Jets) fell behind 2007 totals by 27%.  Much of the decrease is associated with the economic slowdown. YTD U.S. shipments of general aviation aircraft were behind the previous year by 6% (200 less aircraft).
GAMA announced that 2008 year-end worldwide shipments of general aviation airplanes decreased for the first time in five years.

Aviation Safety

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) reports fewer general aviation accidents through December 2008 than in the same period last year.  Accident data for the fourth quarter of 2008 (220 in 2008) shows a decline of 30% when compared to the fourth quarter of 2007 (315 in 2007).  YTD figures show there have been 1,383 total general aviation accidents.  Of these, 274 were fatal accidents, involving 494 fatalities.  This compares favorably to the year 2007 through December, when there were 1,607 accidents, in which 288 were fatal with 496 fatalities. 

GA Trends Statistics Quarterly Comparison

 

Q4 2007

Q4 2008

% Change

Change

FLIGHT ACTIVITY

 

 

 

 

Centers

2,006,081

1,618,204

-19%

-387,877

Towers

7,748,108

4,294,370

-45%

-3,453,738

Gallons Avgas Sold (in 000s)

46,147

39,486

-14%

-6,661

PILOT CERTIFICATION

       

Total Student Issuances

15,123

10,979

-27%

-4,144

Private Issuances

5,079

5,398

6%

319

Commercial Issuances

2,086

2,644

27%

558

ATP Issuances

1,391

930

-33%

-461

CFI Issuances

1,049

1,077

3%

28

Instrument Ratings Issued

5,276

5,944

13%

668

Sport Pilot Issuances

228

241

6%

13

AIRCRAFT SHIPMENT & REGISTRATION

       

GA Shipments

1,074

783

-27%

-291

AVIATION SAFETY

       

GA Accidents

315

220

-30%

-95

GA Trends Statistics Quarterly Comparison

 

2007

2008

% Change

Change

FLIGHT ACTIVITY

 

 

 

 

Centers

8,245,839

7,274,819

-12%

-971,020

Towers

32,868,064

26,853,510

-18%

-6,014,554

Gallons Avgas Sold (in 000s)

213,511

185,218,

-13%

-28,293,

PILOT CERTIFICATION

       

Total Student Issuances

68,996

60,530

-12%

-8,466

Private Issuances

20,299

19,070

-6%

-1,229

Commercial Issuances

9,318

10,604

14%

1,286

ATP Issuances

5,918

5,209

-12%

-709

CFI Issuances

4,667

4,417

-5%

-250

Instrument Ratings Issued

22,342

23,699

6%

1,357

Sport Pilot Issuances

1,147

630

-45%

-517

AIRCRAFT SHIPMENT & REGISTRATION

       

GA Shipments

3,279

3,079

-6%

-200

AVIATION SAFETY

       

GA Accidents

1,607

1,383

-14%

-224

 

Flight Activity

Centers

  • During the fourth quarter of 2008 a total of 1,618,200 IFR aircraft were handled at ATC centers.  This total represents a decrease (down 19%, 387,877 fewer aircraft handled).  Year to date numbers show a decrease (down 12%, 971,020 fewer aircraft handled).

Towers

  • General aviation tower operations saw a decline in the fourth quarter of 2008.  Compared to the fourth quarter of 2007, tower operations were down 45% (3,453,738 fewer operations).  A year to date comparison shows an 18% decline in general aviation tower operations.

Aviation Gasoline

  • Gallons of Aviation Gasoline sold - A total of 39.5 million gallons of aviation gasoline (100LL) were sold during the fourth quarter of 2008.  This figure is behind the previous year by 14% (6.7 million fewer gallons sold as compared to 2007).  This is the lowest level in fifteen years.

Pilot Certification

Student Certificates Issued

  • A total of 10,979 student certificates were issued for the fourth quarter of 2008.  This figure is down compared to last year’s figures by 27% (4,144 fewer issuances).  Year to date numbers decreased (8,466 fewer new student certificates issued, down 12% from YTD 2007).  Despite the decline, the following charts depict a relatively stable number of new students.

Private Certificates Issued

  • A total of 5,398 private certificates were issued in the fourth quarter of 2008, a 6% increase compared to the same period in 2007 (319 more issuances).  Current year to date figures, on the other hand are running 6% below last year’s figures (1,229 fewer issuances).

Commercial Certificates Issued

  • The number of new commercial pilot certificates issued for the fourth quarter of 2008 reached a total of 2,644.  This number represents a 27% increase from the fourth quarter of 2007 (558 more new commercial pilot certificates issued).  Year to date 2008 new commercial certificates issuances were also ahead by 14% (1,286 more new commercial pilot certificates issued).

ATP Certificates Issued

  • A total of 930 new ATP certificates were issued during the fourth quarter of 2008, a decrease of 33% (461 fewer ATPs) compared to the fourth quarter of 2007.  Year to date numbers show a decrease of 12% (709 fewer ATP certificates issued).

CFI Certificates Issued

  • The fourth quarter of 2008 saw 1,077 CFI ratings issued.  This total represents a 3% increase compared to the same period in 2007 (28 more CFI ratings issued).  Year to date numbers on the other hand show 2008 to be down from the previous year by 5% (250 fewer CFIs issued).

Instrument Ratings Issued

  • For the fourth quarter of 2008, Instrument ratings issued totaled 5,944.  This total represents a 13% increase compared to the same period in 2007 (668 more instrument ratings issued).  Year to date numbers show instrument ratings issued up by 6% compared to 2007 (1,357 more Instrument Certificates issued).

Aircraft Shipments

Aircraft Shipments

  • U.S. aircraft manufacturers shipped 783 general aviation aircraft during the fourth quarter of 2008.  This total represents a 27% decrease (291 fewer aircraft) over the same period in 2007.  Year to date numbers for the fourth quarter of 2008 show a 6% decrease (200 fewer shipments).

Aviation Safety

General Aviation Accidents

  • According to the FAA, there were a total of 220 general aviation accidents in the fourth quarter of 2008, down 30% (95 fewer accidents than during the same period in 2007). Year to date numbers for the fourth quarter of 2008 show a 14% decrease (224 less accidents).

Updated April 28, 2008