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Ugly Trends Threaten Aviation Industry

Unknown Lamer posted about 2 months ago | from the the-year-man-forgot-how-to-fly dept.

Transportation 473

An anonymous reader writes "The Washington Post reports, 'In the past several decades, the number of private and recreational pilots across the country has plummeted, as has the number of small aircraft being manufactured — trends that some say have been accelerated by increasingly strict federal regulations. If the decline continues, it will spell trouble for entrepreneurs ... Since 1980, the number of pilots in the country has nosedived from about 827,000 in 1980 to 617,000, according to the Frederick, Md.-based Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association. During about the same period, data from the General Aviation Manufacturers Association in Washington show that production of single-engine planes plunged from 14,000 per year to fewer than 700.'"

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Cost (5, Insightful)

asmkm22 (1902712) | about 2 months ago | (#46214225)

Amazingly, pretty much nothing about people's income has kept pace with the cost of living during the last 30 years. And they are wondering why less people are flying airplanes?

Re:Cost (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46214337)

The USA is imploding and will become a failed state in a few decades.

It's fascinating to have a window seat and witness the collapse of an empire. Thanks to all the Americans here who are contribution to the spectacle. We appreciate your sacrifice.

Re:Cost (0)

0123456 (636235) | about 2 months ago | (#46214361)

The USA is imploding and will become a failed state in a few decades.

That long?

Re:Cost (2)

peragrin (659227) | about 2 months ago | (#46214497)

Like Microsoft if you have billions, and make billions. but still are losing it takes a long time to fall.

The USA is going in the wrong direction but still with some intelligent leadership and leadership council(congress) it can be turned around.

I don't have hope that the politicians will change.

Hell it took Rome a good 3-400 years. to fall. The USA has a much larger pile of gold to pillage before it can burn. Yes I know of the debt. but rome had a larger percentage of debt. in a good pillage debt doesn't matter.

Re:Cost (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46214627)

Nigger jokes get better visibility during boycotts. A-hem... so--so where is the best place to hide a nigger's food stamps?

Pffff-hff-hfff--in his WORK BOOTS!

Thank you, thank you, I'ma step out now because boycott (fuck Beta!), and also gonna cornhole me a blind bitch! AwooooOOOO!

-- Ethanol-fueled

Re:Bet on this (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46214643)

There would be Chinese Revolution before the USA if it ever becomes a failed state

Re:Cost (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46214409)

What part of "trends that some say have been accelerated by increasingly strict federal regulations" don't you understand? Big government strikes again . . .

From the article:

But at the hearing last week, Heffernan and other employers pinned the blame largely on federal regulators, who they say have built a complex maze of red tape and bureaucratic hurdles that deter pilots from obtaining and renewing their licenses, which hurts small businesses like theirs and the broader aviation industry.

“One of the biggest problems facing us is the pilot population, and putting more requirements in front of people that stop them from flying is a real problem,” John Uczekaj, chief executive of Aspen Avionics, a small aviation electronics firm in Albuquerque, said during the hearing.

FAA officials did not reply to requests for comment . . .

Re:Cost (-1, Flamebait)

jedidiah (1196) | about 2 months ago | (#46214447)

> What part of "trends that some say have been accelerated by increasingly strict federal regulations" don't you understand? Big government strikes again . . .

He just just might not buy into the mindless Conservative drivel.

If incomes remain stagnant while inflation continues, EVERYTHING becomes more expensive. This includes any expensive esoteric hobbies. The cost of a pilot's license and an airplane is going to steadily become more and more out of reach even without the Tea Bagger rantings.

Reading the media nonsense and taking it completely at face value are two entirely different things.

Re:Cost (4, Informative)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | about 2 months ago | (#46214593)

Perhaps you fail to realize that government regulations have played a significant role in incomes remaining stagnant.

Re:Cost (3, Insightful)

riverat1 (1048260) | about 2 months ago | (#46214709)

Yeah, it all started when Reagan reduced the top marginal tax rate below 50%. Before that there was more incentive to put the money back into the business rather than hoard it for yourself.

Re:Cost (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46214595)

Yes, the Washington Post is a longstanding Conservative institution. What's mindless is to dismiss what those in the industry are saying simply because it disagrees with your fragile and naive political sensibilities. Here's a tip, not everyone who disagrees with your narrow view of the world is Conservative.

I don't doubt this depressed, Obama economy has negatively affected pilots, as it has every other aspect of society. That painfully obvious point aside, maybe you can simultaneous consider another factor -- government regulations have been cited as a major problem in this industry by experts who are actually in the industry. Government regulations are so much of a problem, many are worried it could even affect number of available commercial pilots, as commercial pilots are mainly drawn from the general aviation industry.

Further, it is completely lost on you that such strangling government regulations both inside and outside the aviation industry are major contributors to this abysmal economy and stagnant incomes you are so concerned about. It's hard to expand your business or give raises when government increases the cost of business at every conceivable turn. You mention inflation, but there again, it's your beloved government that's responsible through their incessant running of the money print press. I suggest you spend more time educating yourself and less time blindly insulting those you disagree with.

Re:Cost (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46214685)

That you're blaming Obama for the state of the economy when said economy faltered under a certain President Bush, speaks volumes.

Then again, there's plenty of reasons why it would be completely lost on you if anybody said Obama hadn't been pursuing a liberal economic policy, but was actually following conservative mantras, even to his signature healthcare reform law.

But that might interfere with your fragile and naive political sensibilities.

Re:Cost (0, Flamebait)

roman_mir (125474) | about 2 months ago | (#46214691)

You dumb fuck, who do you think creates inflation? 1971, motherfucker, do you recognise the year? USD became paper, no more gold standard. You know why? Huge gov't spending on debt, huge gov't growth on debt and taxes. All regulations are taxes, all inflation is a tax on fixed incomes and on assets denominated in the currency that is being inflated, you pro-gov't fuckface.
What led to that? The 'great fucking society' led to that, the 'new deal' led to that, the Sherman act, the IRS, the Fed, the income taxes, the IFDS, all the shit that the mob collectively votes for led to that. What do you think, USA production is down from 14000 to 700 planes, that's good for the economy or bad, motherfucker? Or you think that 'demand creates jobs', motherfucker? Yeah, good luck to you.

Not BIG but OVERREACHING gov't [was Re:Cost] (5, Interesting)

ReallyEvilCanine (991886) | about 2 months ago | (#46214717)

Along with FAA bullshit like increased ramp checks and the resulting harsh punishment for the most minor of infractions (OhNOES! There's an old sectional map buried under the back seat!), the biggest killer is -- not surprisingly -- DHS. Loads of additional bullshit regulations, security theatre, outright bullying. The surprise searches-- conducted under any auspice (ICE, CBP, general Tairism) -- are claimed (currently untested in court) to be superconstitutional, meaning they do this without warrant, court order, active investigation, or any other reason. And in inspecting the aircraft they also inspect all private contents of all pax, not just that of the owner or pilot being run.

Here's a story from last September [toledoblade.com] that no one saw. Pay careful attention to the harassment about 2/3 of the way down:

Gabriel Silverstein of New York flies using flight plans as standard procedure, said the Iowa state troopers who detained him in Iowa City this spring were more blatant [than those in another case]. “It was, ‘We are inspecting your plane,’ not, ‘May we search your plane?’ ” Mr. Silverstein said.

In the two-hour encounter one of the lawmen advised him to confess to possessing “a little personal-use dope and it’ll be all over and easy.” Mr. Silverstein said he was hardly about to make such a confession, considering that he refrains from drinking coffee, much less anything illegal.

The Iowa City stop was the second for him in four days. Mr. Silverstein also had been visited by two Customs agents in Hobart, Okla., during a fuel stop on the outbound leg of a business trip from New Jersey to California and back with his husband. They checked his paperwork and quickly inspected his baggage while he fueled the plane, he said.

That's a pretty damned clear set-up for a slam-dunk civil forfeiture case [washingtontimes.com] with a bonus uncontested drug possession charge.

Re:Cost (1)

TWX (665546) | about 2 months ago | (#46214461)

Last time I checked, one of the most significant events to impact our society was perpetrated by nineteen individuals, among whom several were amateur pilots.

Yes, I'm well aware that this is a very, very small number of people. On the other hand, everyone that has anything to do with flying has been thoroughly impacted. There is no surprise that pilots have been impacted, and if they want some semblance of sanity, then I suggest they start pushing for sanity for all of us, not just complaints about their own small part of the greater problem.

Re:Cost (4, Informative)

DexterIsADog (2954149) | about 2 months ago | (#46214487)

Last time I checked, one of the most significant events to impact our society was perpetrated by nineteen individuals, among whom several were amateur pilots. Yes, I'm well aware that this is a very, very small number of people. On the other hand, everyone that has anything to do with flying has been thoroughly impacted. There is no surprise that pilots have been impacted, and if they want some semblance of sanity, then I suggest they start pushing for sanity for all of us, not just complaints about their own small part of the greater problem.

I have no idea what you mean by this. I started taking lessons in 2003 in the Philadelphia area, and the only "impact" that pilots, instructors, and flight school owners ever referred to was the no fly zones around locations where the president might be, and jokes about how screwed you'd be if you violated that airspace. And this had nothing to do with 9/11, it was established many decades earlier.

Please list the "impact" that you say that private pilots have experienced. That was what the article was about, by the way. Not you having to take off your shoes at security.

This downturn in private pilot activity is most likely economic.

Re:Cost (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46214589)

No, it's because Obama is president. Like Obamaphones. The federal gov't has been subsidizing "lifeline" minimal phone service since the days of St. Ronal Reagan, blessed be his name. But they were no evil until Obama became president. Not that we're racist or anything, no siree robert.

Re: Cost (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46214489)

One person blames regulations. Big whup. Is Mitt Romney going to play for sympathy by making us worry about his horse too?

Let's just give everybody a plane then.

Re:Cost (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46214421)

Indeed. It's the same story with recreational sailboat registrations.

Re:Cost (1)

capaslash (941889) | about 2 months ago | (#46214473)

EXACTLY. I have my private pilot's license. I rent planes when I fly. It's an expensive hobby. I think owning a horse might be cheaper.

Re:Cost (1, Insightful)

capaslash (941889) | about 2 months ago | (#46214513)

I don't consider excessive regulation to be a problem so much as the general state of the U.S. economy. Basically since Reagan took office everything's been downhill. Globalization ... decline of unions ... technology's influence in the labor market ... concentration of wealth among the elite while the masses get poorer and poorer.

Re:Cost (0)

cold fjord (826450) | about 2 months ago | (#46214577)

Basically since Reagan took office everything's been downhill

So.... you were happier when Jimmy Carter was in office? :D

Re:Cost (1)

kenwd0elq (985465) | about 2 months ago | (#46214565)

I too have a pilot's license - but only because they never expire. I haven't been at the controls for 30 years, because it was just too darned expensive to maintain a hobby that was getting to be less and less enjoyable with every passing year.

Re:Cost (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46214531)

Flying was expensive (relatively) back in the 70's .. now the operating costs are simply astronomical. Fewer people can afford this luxury, and microlights are not the answer to "affordable" private planes. Why fly if you can surf?

Stop Spraying Chemtrails Into the Air (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46214231)

Chemtrails and the pilots and whistle blowers trying to expose this deadly manipulation of humanity are the true things threatening the aviation industry, anything else is just a corporate money grabbing lie.

Re:Stop Spraying Chemtrails Into the Air (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46214339)

Congratulations Beta. You're left with the chemtrail ppl now.

Re:Stop Spraying Chemtrails Into the Air (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46214455)

Admit it, you wrote the post about chemtrails in protest to beta. Not to mention, you don't like beta because you fear those who oppose your arguments might be heard, thereby exposing your nonsense for what it is.


Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46214233)

Everywhere it is after midnight right NOW !!


buswolley (591500) | about 2 months ago | (#46214349)

So few comments today.


cold fjord (826450) | about 2 months ago | (#46214599)

But outright trolls seem to have decreased as a proportion of posts, and the endless complaining about the new interface being testing are mostly gone. Overall the quality seems to be up. I'll call that a win:win.


Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46214647)

all of the comments on this article can be summed up by the statement:
it's the economy stupid

there's no need for pilots. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46214237)

Kids train on video games now. If there's a war, they'll have a glut of drone pilots ready to go at a moment's notice.

Also, buck feta.

Re:there's no need for pilots. (1)

NapalmV (1934294) | about 2 months ago | (#46214319)

I fully agree with your opinion on feta:

Re:there's no need for pilots. (1)

c0lo (1497653) | about 2 months ago | (#46214459)

Kids train on video games now. If there's a war, they'll have a glut of drone pilots ready to go at a moment's notice.

Also, buck feta.

Possible solution: send some drones to eliminate the factors which - as per TFT - "Threaten Aviation Industry". Isn't this the the most tried solution in the last years?


Old planes still flying (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46214239)

Except for those that got wrecked, most of those planes from 1980 are still flying. So if there are fewer pilots, it's no surprise that few new planes are being built.

COST (4, Insightful)

Garybaldy (1233166) | about 2 months ago | (#46214259)

Well perhaps if planes did not cost as much as high end luxury cars (i'm sure federal regulations are some of that cost). More people would be into flying. Just learning to fly is expensive. It is a hobby only the well to do can afford anymore.

I spent pretty much my whole childhood hanging out at the local general avaition field. Gone were the days when pilots felt secure taking some local kid up for a flight. And that was 30 years ago.

Re:COST (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46214315)

Young Eagles gives pilots a great opportunity to take kids up. It's helping but obviously not enough.

Re:COST (5, Insightful)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | about 2 months ago | (#46214371)

Yes. A new Cessna 172 Skyhawk probably cost $310,000 or more.

Even renting an older (though nice and very well-maintained) airplane is $90/hr, which at least includes fuel.

Some people kit-build planes, but that's a lot of work and it all has to be done and maintained right.

Insurance is expensive. Renting a hangar stall is expensive. Continuing education is expensive.

Regulations don't help, though there are low-regulation categories. Those are a considerably higher risk category because some of the people that take advantage of the lower barrier to entry are a bit more lax in doing things properly.

Learning to fly often isn't a good career move because pilots are now generally paid poorly.

One really has to want to fly badly, especially to give up several other hobbies to afford flying.

Re:COST (2)

Skater (41976) | about 2 months ago | (#46214419)

Yep. Also, I recently got life insurance, and one of the questions they asked me was, "Have you been aboard an aircraft other than as a passenger on a commercial airliner?" I wonder how much a "yes" answer would've cost me each month. I'd love to do it, but we're talking about $6000-$8000 just for the license, daytime, single engine only. How much more for any of the other certifications? I drive past an airfield every day on my way home from work and look longingly...then remember how much it costs.

Sport pilot would be cheaper, of course. But as you pointed out there are quite a few expenses aside from just the license.

And, it's not like you can, say, fly yourself to vacation to save money. A friend of mine has his license and his own plane (owned one before he even could drive, in fact), and still flies commercial whenever he needs to actually go somewhere.

Re:COST (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46214375)


If ONLY planes cost as much as luxury cars! My just shy of forty year old Honda Accord of the sky (Cessna 172) was as much as a luxury car. A new one is a much as a decent suburban home in all bu the most ridiculous of real estate markets.

Re:COST (4, Informative)

Guspaz (556486) | about 2 months ago | (#46214393)

Luxury car? As far as I can tell, the cheapest Cessna (the 172) costs $275,000 USD... that's as much as a house. And yet, the price of the aircraft when it was introduced, adjusted for inflation, is only about $72,000.

So the cost of the aircraft has increased nearly 4x faster than inflation. That can't help!

Re:COST (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46214501)

But but REGULATION! Asking pilots to go to the doctor every two years is killing the USA! (seriously that's what the guy in TFA complained about)

Re:COST (0)

alen (225700) | about 2 months ago | (#46214661)

a few years ago a small aircraft crashed into a NYC apartment building and killed someone because the pilot had a heart attack or was disoriented or something

if you're flying around i a dangerous machine and put people at risk no reason why you shouldn't have to live up to some standards

Re:COST (4, Insightful)

Rich0 (548339) | about 2 months ago | (#46214697)

Think about what you just said. A crash killed somebody, therefore pilots should have a medical exam every few years (and it is worth noting that a fairly large number of conditions and medications disqualify you from flying).

Car crashes routinely kill several people at a time, and yet I don't believe that any state requires periodic physicals, disqualifying anybody from driving who takes some of the common blood pressure medications. If they did half the population wouldn't be able to drive.

I think there is a balance, and it probably involves more strict regulations on driving and less strict regulation on flying.

Re:COST (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46214529)

You can buy a Cessna for the cost of a normal car and build one yourself without dealing with the red tape. Any aircraft dubbed as "experimental" is ideal in cost savings. Also fuck beta.

Re:COST (1)

Rich0 (548339) | about 2 months ago | (#46214705)

You can buy a Cessna for the cost of a normal car and build one yourself without dealing with the red tape.

Uh, you can buy yourself a 40 year old Cessna for the cost of a brand new Lexus. For the price of a normal car of the same age you could buy yourself the amount of oil you'll probably put into it over a year.

Re:COST (2)

cold fjord (826450) | about 2 months ago | (#46214611)

I was visiting an aviation site a couple of days ago and it said you could start picking up decent used planes at around $30k.

Re:COST (1)

Rich0 (548339) | about 2 months ago | (#46214711)

I was visiting an aviation site a couple of days ago and it said you could start picking up decent used planes at around $30k.

Yup, and by those standards you can pick up a decent used car for around $200.

Granted, the engines on the planes are in much better condition, but the interior is probably not nearly as nice as what you'd find in a $200 used car, nor is the safety equipment.

Re:COST (2)

rubycodez (864176) | about 2 months ago | (#46214743)

you can pick up a decent one for half that price.

BUT then there is yearly costs:

$500 to park it outside or $2500 in a hangar
$1000 inspection
$3000 toward engine overhual ($18000 every 1700 - 2000 hours but we'll say every six years)
$1000 insurance
and we haven't talked about fuel

Re:COST (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46214403)

Seems like airplanes nowadays cost WAY WAY more than they did decades ago, even accounting for inflation.

Re:COST (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46214441)

Forget the cost of the plane, because if you can afford the 100LL fuel, you can afford the plane. Even a relatively cheap little Cessna 172 costs more than $100/hr just for fuel. Once you add in maintenance, insurance, and fees for things like parking and landing, you're going to be paying at least $2000 per month!


Blame the lawyers. (3, Insightful)

jcr (53032) | about 2 months ago | (#46214267)

The cost of manufacturers liability awards is what's killing the light aircraft industry in the USA.


Re:Blame the lawyers. (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46214427)

And how have they changed in the past 60 years? You know, since Congress pass a law (1958) explicitly protecting manufacturers from liability: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/General_Aviation_Revitalization_Act

Re:Blame the lawyers. (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46214509)

The protection from the General Aviation Revitalization Act is only for aircraft older than 18 years old.

Pilot (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46214287)

It's just more expensive to get a pilot license so less people could afford it. On a side note, are we done with BETA?

Re:Pilot (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46214307)

I, for one, am done with BETA!

ask the ordinary citizen consumers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46214323)

time to catch our breath almost http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=aviation%20military%20pollution%20floods&sm=3

Its lawsuits not regulation, leads to kit aircraft (2)

perpenso (1613749) | about 2 months ago | (#46214327)

The way one instructor pilot explained it to me is that it is lawsuits not regulations that are killing off manufacturing for the private pilot audience. He had numerous examples of pilot error, cited in the FAA accident report, that still led to juries awarding big settlements to families for various bogus reasons. Leading to a trend towards kit aircraft these days. These aircraft get a big "experimental" sticker on the fuselage and apparently this protects the designers sufficiently.

Re:Its lawsuits not regulation, leads to kit aircr (2)

jonwil (467024) | about 2 months ago | (#46214507)

ok, so clearly the http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/G... [wikipedia.org] that someone else linked to isn't working and needs to be strengthened to give manufacturers of aircraft stronger immunity against this kind of lawsuit (i.e. protection strong enough so that the manufacturer can get it thrown out of court before a jury even gets to it)

Maybe pass a law that gives manufacturers strong immunity from lawsuits (civil and criminal) if there is a valid FAA report showing that the manufacturers aren't to blame.

Entrepreneur, meaning 'a person with a business' (1)

gnoshi (314933) | about 2 months ago | (#46214331)

If the decline continues, it will spell trouble for entrepreneurs such as Austin Heffernan, who runs an aircraft maintenance and repair company in Hagerstown, Md.

Sure, and if people eat less fatty food then the entrepreneur who started up my local fry-up breakfast café will be in trouble.
(Note: I'm not saying the use of the word is incorrect, but rather noting that it generally seems to carry concepts of innovation and novelty with it, which really don't apply here)

Cue the Stratofortress (1)

C18H27NO3 (1282172) | about 2 months ago | (#46214345)

The B-52 completed fifty years of continuous service ... it is expected to serve into the 2040s.

At least they must be doing something right.

LSA is a problem (1)

gr8_phk (621180) | about 2 months ago | (#46214347)

The Light Sport Aircraft category was supposed to help with the cost by creating a new category of plane that is a bit smaller and hypothetically cheaper. What I've noticed is a very large number of manufacturers in the market which seems good, but none can get enough sales volume to reduce cost.

The cheapest route of course is to build your own, put an engine on that can run car gas, and be your own mechanic. This is not appealing to everyone, and not everyone whom it would appeal to even knows it's an option.

Re:LSA is a problem (2)

Slipped_Disk (532132) | about 2 months ago | (#46214653)

I don't think LSA is so much a "problem" as simply not delivering on its planned promise.
The idea was new LSA-compliant aircraft would sell for about the price of your typical 40+ year old Pipers and Cessnas (the $25,000-50,000 range - and mainly toward the low end of that spectrum), which would make them an attractive option for new pilots pursuing flight training to buy and fly at a cost similar to a boat or car.

The reality is most LSAs are a far cry from the simple aircraft that you can find as a "Legacy LSA" - fancy glass panels and relatively-well-appointed interiors are the norm rather than the exception, and adding manufacturer liability and low volume on to that prices are easily north of $100,000. That means most of the activity has been in the "Legacy LSA" end of the business - Cessna 150s, Piper Cubs, and the like - and at that end it's often older pilots choosing to "downgrade" to an LSA and exercise Sport Pilot privileges rather than continuing to keep up a third-class medical certificate to be able to fly.

Hopefully the pilots left are competent (1)

Streetlight (1102081) | about 2 months ago | (#46214357)

Virtually 100% of airplane accidents in the US are from general aviation pilots not commercial pilots and certainly not from commercial airplane equipment malfunction. The only recent commercial crash I can remember involving pilot error was the tragic crash of a Korean airliner in San Francisco involving an inexperienced pilot, though I haven't heard that the FAA has come to a final conclusion/report.

Re:Hopefully the pilots left are competent (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46214523)

Before spewing the data that you have no way of substantiating (because it is simply not true), you should check the statistics, say the well known Joseph T. Nall Report on the safety trends in aviation. Private, recreational, and sport pilots account for barely 50 % of all the accidents. There are plenty of `commercial crashes' around. I have seen two this year with my very eyes. A lot of accidents happen in training (not all of them deadly), with an instructor (who is a commercial pilot at least) on board. A lot of factors contribute to accidents, and the ailine industry, of course, does everything possible to assure everybody that flying is safe. For the most part, it is. The Korean pilot you are referring to was hardly `inexperienced', he had 10,000 hours IN TYPE. He was just badly taught. There is more to commercial flying than airlines though. By the way, just nitpicking, but General Aviation includes commercial pilots, as well. I am a flight instructor by trade (one of them, anyway)

Government regulation killing businesses... (0)

loony (37622) | about 2 months ago | (#46214369)

What exactly is new here?


Re:Government regulation killing businesses... (1)

timeOday (582209) | about 2 months ago | (#46214609)

At least the article presents a host of other possible reasons before conveniently dismissing them to move on to the unfounded assumption that "it must be regulation." But then the only regulation they can come up with is the requirement for a health checkup every other year if you're over 40? A checkup costs as much as how many flight hours? Approximately 0.

Meanwhile the number of private jets has quadrupled since 1996 [economist.com] globally. So why did the regulators forget to quash that one, too, if that's the explanation?

The problem is MUCH, much wider ... (5, Insightful)

UnknownSoldier (67820) | about 2 months ago | (#46214379)

The motorcycle community is facing the exact same problem of declining numbers.
Libraries are facing the same problem.
Classical music is facing the same problem.
Newspaper readers are dwindling.

  The source of the problem is the same:

There are less and less younger pilots, riders, readers, etc. interested.

As the Baby Boomers slowly are forced to give up their passion / hobbies due to age, sickness, etc the rate of exit is significantly >>> the rate of entering. :-/ Liability (getting sued) and Risks (crashing) are seen as "not worth it" by the younger crowd. Like any community, you need enough "new blood" to sustain it and that isn't happening. Is that a bad thing? I don't know, but we can see trends and it looks like our world is changing. I guess that is the million dollar question: Is it changing for the better ?

I also wonder if /. mirrors this change to some degree? You have new "hip" / "emo" sites like Reddit, Dig, 4chan, etc., yet sites like /. have been around "forever" in internet time but for the most part people don't want "deep intellectual stimulation" anymore. They want "sound bites." the "10-second news."

The same trend is also happening in gaming; I call it "Fast Food Gaming" -- dumbed down button mashing of which Diablo 3, COD, etc. are the perfect examples. Now there is a time and a place for less cerebral challenges but I wonder if we're losing something along the way ...

Developing the heart & soul of personal relationships, and we no longer care about experiencing and exploring our passions physically. Why, when we can do it "all" virtually?

Piracy === Disrespect.
Piracy =/= Theft.

Re:The problem is MUCH, much wider ... (5, Insightful)

NoImNotNineVolt (832851) | about 2 months ago | (#46214521)

I can't help but suggest that maybe the younger crowd isn't buying into these things because of the development of new technologies.

Motorcycles and aviation catered to a certain demographic of people looking to get out there and do something interesting, something crazy. Perhaps they were the adrenaline junkies of their time. Today, if you're an adrenaline junkie, there are plenty of more accessible alternatives. You can go skydiving with little more than a couple bucks in your wallet. Hell, you can play Grand Theft Auto at your buddy's house for free. I'm not suggesting that playing a video game is the same thing as riding a motorcycle, but merely that it can be a substitute [albeit a poor one].

Libraries and newspapers are dying, well, for the same reason the buggy whip industry died. There's really no good reason for someone to print stuff out and distribute it physically when it's so much easier to distribute information digitally. Sure, some people prefer real paper [myself included], but some people prefer horses over cars. That didn't stop the automobile from taking over, leaving equestrianism as a hobby for those with a peculiar interest.

Classical music fascinates me. Its claimed death aside, I find the 'timeless' sense of classical music truly interesting. When we think of music from 200, 300, 500 years ago, we think of classical music. Of course, there must have surely been "folk" music around at the time as well, but we don't really think of that. "Folk" music seems to be largely forgotten by history. Today, we see all this pop music permeating contemporary culture. However, 200, 300, 500 years from now, will all our rock & roll, rap, and dubstep be largely forgotten along the mass of other "folk" music? Will people be talking of our "contemporary classical" composers (I can't even name one) as the benchmark for our generation while being ignorant of Elvis, Rakim, and Bassnectar?

To contradict what I just said about classical music: complaining about the death of classical music is like complaining about the death of women's shoulder pads. Culture changes, but it doesn't disappear. It's not like people have stopped listening to music, or stopped making music.

Re:The problem is MUCH, much wider ... (1)

clay_buster (521703) | about 2 months ago | (#46214677)

I can't help but suggest that maybe the younger crowd isn't buying into these things because of the development of new technologies. Motorcycles and aviation catered to a certain demographic of people looking to get out there and do something interesting, something crazy. Perhaps they were the adrenaline junkies of their time.

Younger folks have been raised / controlled to take less risk. Computers mean they do less with their hands. I have a motorcycle license. Two of my kids have motorcycle licenses. Some of our "friends" ask my wife why she let me do that because its two dangerous.

I'm no adrenaline junkie but I do feel sorry for folks whose risks and activities are all in a video game.

Re:The problem is MUCH, much wider ... (1)

Nimey (114278) | about 2 months ago | (#46214747)

I wonder how much of that is related to the lower birthrate today; rather than having (say) 7 kids people might have only one or two, so if one gets killed doing something dangerous that's a much bigger risk to a parent's "investment" than if you had several other kids.

Re:The problem is MUCH, much wider ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46214591)

Perfect imitation of an old fart there. It boils down to money. It always boils down to money. Virtual activities on the internet are vastly cheaper than their real life counterparts and can connect you to people you would never meet in real life. Everyone under 30 that didn't go to an Ivy League is dirt broke and the "1%" aren't as charitable as they used to be. Newspapers will soon be relegated to archival purposes only as digital news is faster than ever.

Re:The problem is MUCH, much wider ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46214631)

Emo? Really.

You realize emo is an insult? They are like the 'new wave' kids from the 80s, only even lamer and gayer.

Could Internet addiction be the root cause? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46214731)

Maybe too many people are addicted to the Internet and no longer have the free time to devote to hobbies?

Re:The problem is MUCH, much wider ... (4, Insightful)

Kjella (173770) | about 2 months ago | (#46214739)

Pardon me, but you sound like a grumpy old fart who picked the randomest things to suggest the next generation is going to shit.

We frigging didn't have much choice, if we wanted to hang out together we had to physically be together. Being at home was pretty damn boring, we had to get out. Today I've got a ton of entertainment and access to everyone I know in my pocket, of course that changes things. YMMV but I'd say overall for the better. And no, I used to play "fast food gaming" a lot when I was younger, it's called getting old and not so easily dazzled by a cheap adrenaline thrill anymore. They're no worse today than I was back then, do you really remember yourself ten or twenty years ago? Honestly we weren't much into "deep intellectual stimulation".

I used to tinker with my machines a lot and felt it was great fun, swapping parts and building machines from scratch and it was somehow fun. Then it became routine. Then it became a chore and now I just want to get the damn thing working out of the box and to never break. Same way about running around in an FPS deathmatch, it used to be fun for years. Then I hang in there to play with friends. Today I find the idea of everybody running around shooting each other and respawning just for the sake of shooting each other incredibly dull and pointless. But I'm the one that's changed, not the world.

TSA (2)

ebonum (830686) | about 2 months ago | (#46214385)

As a private pilot, doing short hops in your own plane is nice. You skip the humiliation of the TSA.

Unless you own a jet, longer flights are hard to do in a private plane. Range and speed limit how far is practical to travel in a few hours on your own.

Re:TSA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46214551)

Is that so? A 110 knot Cherokee 140 (which can still be bought for about $25,000) can reach at least five cities around here (Southern Kentucky) within two an a half hours versus over five driving. And, of course, the comfort of flying even a small airplane far exceeds that of driving (yes, done it MANY times, you can eat, you can gaze, and small airports beat rest areas every time in cleanliness and amenities). And safety wise, I would rather be traveling by air than driving on the interstate, especially at night.

Proof once again . . . (0)

JohnnyConservative (1611795) | about 2 months ago | (#46214415)

Proof once again that democrat over-regulation kills industries and jobs! This time it is the private pilots, those that manufacturer their equipment and those that service them! Will your job and industry be next? YES!!

Business opportunity? (5, Interesting)

swb (14022) | about 2 months ago | (#46214417)

I kind of wonder if there's a business opportunity in all this.

Create a national chain of airplane rentals and subsidize the cost of obtaining a pilot's license. Encourage the use of rented planes for regional travel. Build a common air fleet of simple to fly, fuel efficient planes with modern materials and avionics.

There's probably a group of wannabe owners and former owners who like to fly and would fly more often and for more utility but can't afford their own planes. Plus existing rentals aren't setup like car rentals and don't promote them for travel. Discounts or credits could be offered for pilots who would fly a "one way" plane back or to its next destination, since some would fly for free because they could.

I would think there would be an unmet aviation need out there.

Liability (3, Informative)

tricorn (199664) | about 2 months ago | (#46214425)

I'm an airplane pilot and glider instructor, I donated my time to the local glider club. I stopped instructing in part because I was concerned about the liability if a student should be in an accident and someone was hurt. Paying for hefty liability insurance wasn't really practical for me, especially as I wasn't getting any income from it. I pretty much gave the whole thing up shortly after 9/11 when the security regulations started to become too intrusive. It was also becoming too expensive, even for gliders, especially as insurance and gas costs increased.

I've trained many students who went on to become pilots, some became airplane pilots from their exposure to aviation in gliders, some became instructors (a few of whom I trained to be instructors). Without instructors, you don't get student pilots. Without student pilots, you don't get new pilots, or new instructors.

Why does this washington post story matter? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46214437)

Not tech, geek, computer, gaming or all that new/interesting. And ... The Washington Post, get real.

What Country? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46214453)

Why not just rename it news for people who live in the only country that we care about?

Flying Cars, Autonomous Vehicles and the Future (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46214463)

The Washington Times article is very shortsighted and lacks any awareness of the innovations in the tech world. Autonomous vehicle technology will mature significantly in the next few decades and flying cars will be a reality for many. They will essentially replace the Piper Cubs that TFA is anxious about, and the driver/pilot will be in the vehicle while the computer does the driving and flying. It will be interesting to see how the insurance companies treat this.

Re:Flying Cars, Autonomous Vehicles and the Future (0)

joe_frisch (1366229) | about 2 months ago | (#46214715)

Flying cars will be more expensive to operate than small aircraft because of the added weight to make them drivable. I haven't seen any "flying car" designs that look practical for anything other than a tiny niche market.

Rich aviation history is dying, slowly (1)

marcgvky (949079) | about 2 months ago | (#46214469)

I have been an aviator since 1986. The private aircraft industry has been in a slow decline, for many years. It's mostly cost driven by regulatory compliance and taxes that force people out of aviation. It's now a hobby for the most-wealthy folks or corporate elites that can afford a private jet (which is paid for by the shareholders). Sigh, things change.

I abandoned thoughts of getting a pilot's license (1)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | about 2 months ago | (#46214479)

The primary reason was that the accessible aircraft are pretty low performance unless you're planning on dropping a lot of money. Somehow, we had hundreds of thousands [sic] of prop jobs able to do 300-400 mph in WWI but the planes the average joe will get to fly today move at less than half to a third of that. So, for me all the fantasy trips across country became unreasonable.

Re:I abandoned thoughts of getting a pilot's licen (3, Insightful)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 2 months ago | (#46214533)

Because those high performance 400 mph prop planes were piloted by 20 year olds with great eyesight and reflexes (and a depressingly large fatality rate). Your average 50 year old dentist should be in a Cessna, not a P51.

commercial airlines got cheaper (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46214493)

I think larger airplanes are inherently cheaper to fly very safely. 2 skilled pilots can fly 180 passengers at >500 mph, versus the 100 or 200 mph of a private, six digit prop plane. Commercial airplanes spend lots of time in the air. Airplanes with larger engines, engines that go longer between scheduled maintenance, computer programs to optimize seats filled, etc.

Some people speculate that the increased reliability, and better highways, made cars stiffer competition to private airplanes for family trips.

Vietnam (2)

Ethan Bernard (2954293) | about 2 months ago | (#46214511)

A big part of this trend is the aging of pilots trained in the Vietnam war. The youngest of them are in their 60's. When the war ended, the US government's "learn to fly for free*" program sharply contracted.

* Certain sacrifices required.

Regulations? Get real. (1)

damn_registrars (1103043) | about 2 months ago | (#46214525)

It has little to anything to do with regulations. It mostly comes down to the fact that aviation is a really, really, really, really, really expensive hobby that has only become more expensive in recent times. There just aren't that many people with that much disposable income.

Re:Regulations? Get real. (2)

fatmal (920123) | about 2 months ago | (#46214617)

There's a lot of money to be made in General Aviation.

I know, because I put it there!


Not so onerous... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46214585)

This article said that among the most onerous requirements was the physical. Big deal. I gotta get a physical every two years for my CDL--and thats because Im healthy. If I had diabetes or high blood pressure I'd have to go back every year. Costs me $55 bucks at the cheap place Ive found.

Other than that there wasnt any substance to the article at all.

Re: Not so onerous... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46214615)

Plus--my boss flies his most gawd-awful looking homemade airplane--go-cart with a wing is a charitable description. Haven't heard concrete examples of this heavy regulation.

Have a private pilot's license... (2)

edremy (36408) | about 2 months ago | (#46214605)

and haven't flown since my first kid was born. As so many others have mentioned, the economics just don't work anymore. I trained on C-152s many years back and they're a nice plane, but even then they were $80/hour to rent one from the local FBO. They sold them right after I got my license and the next cheapest was a 172 at well over $100/hour. To keep yourself from literally being a danger to yourself and everyone around you you need to put in 100 hours/year. $10k/year on a hobby? Yeah, there are a few folks out there who could do it, but not me. Buying a new plane will run you as much as my house, and a used one will cost thousands a year just in inspections and even more in hanger fees.

The only way I think you could do it was the way my old neighbor did- he was a master mechanic who was working on his FAA certificate. He'd signed up with a couple of wealthier folks and he got a fraction of the plane free if he did the work on it.

Cost and low benefit ratio (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46214613)

First off I have a commercial license with both instrument and multiengine rating circa 1986. Flying is fun and used to be fairly afforable as a hobby. Now it is just too expensive for most people. Further making the matter worse is most aircraft rentals are mainly elderly piper's and cessna's, which aren't much faster then driving. The industry became to dependent on aviation schools, whose students had to take out massive loans for a license that they couldn't afford to use without loans and minimal job prospects. I know I am rambling here but general aviation has been morbid for the last 15-20 years. ( I owned a grumman yankee for several years, but the annual inspection fees and parts made it impractical to own.) There has been almost no innovation in factory built planes for decades. With airline deregulation, cheap airfares becam the norm and people just couldn't financially rationalize general aviation. I don't see improvement on the horizon.

it will spell trouble for entrepreneurs (1)

manu0601 (2221348) | about 2 months ago | (#46214649)

TFA says

it will spell trouble for entrepreneurs

I am glad we care about the entrepreneurs, but why focus only on that person? What about the employees of the business that are impacted? They do not deserve to exist in the author view?

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