The general aviation pilot outnumbers his airline counterpart 30:1 and flies five times as many hours each year. General aviation, defined as all civil flying activity except that performed by the public air carriers, is a heterogeneous population of airmen including the weekend pilot flying a “Cub” to the versatile corporate pilot flying a $3 million corporate jet.
Until recently little has been known about the operational profiles of the different categories of general aviation pilots, resulting in judgments about their operations which are a priori at best. Under the direction of the Federal Aviation Administration Systems Research and Development Service, studies have been conducted which yield for the first time quantitative measures useful in describing the nature of certain categories of general aviation pilots and their flight operations. Study findings are expected to have implications for airman certification standards, flight safety regulations, and aircraft design.
Rather than a report of a specific research study, this paper can be considered a ready reference in that it presents a broad review and summary of several studies which have developed information about general aviation pilot operations.