Flight Global recently had an extensive article about how general aviation is also taking a big hit in Europe and in the UK in particular. Moreover, general aviation has been declining in both Europe and the UK for some time now with the UK being hit particularly hard.
In fact and as the following chart shows, the total of new private and commercial pilots licenses that have been issued by the Civil Aviation Authority has steadily fallen since 2003 with the decline being particularly rapid for the past four years. And while the UK did introduce a more localized plus less rigorous and much cheaper license in 2002 and this did attract new pilots, the total number of new pilots has still continued to decline since 2003.
Martin Robinson, the chief executive of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) UK and regional vice-president of IAOPA Europe, was quoted as saying that the financial meltdown has hit general aviation particularly hard. In fact, Martin estimates that since 2007, the total number of pilot training recruits in the UK has fallen by 30% as would-be pilots spend their money on other leisure activities or more important commitments. Moreover, Martin noted that it will typically cost about £8,000 (or US$12,900) for a would-be pilot to obtain a private pilot’s license and roughly £65,000 to obtain a commercial pilot’s license.
Martin also pointed out that flying is just simply not a young person’s activity. In fact, the 40 to 60 year old age bracket sees the most licenses issued as this demographic group will typically have more disposable income to spend on flying.
Finally, Martin observed that general aviation itself faces some hostility at the local and national level in the UK thanks to the image that light aircraft is noisy, intrusive and environmentally unfriendly. Hence, general aviation is not seen as a politically correct leisure activity.
Hence, we want to ask you our readers what you think of the state of general aviation in the UK. In other words, will general aviation in the UK slowly go the way of fox hunting?