As I sit on the cusp of the new year and look forward to not repeating many of the things 2020 brought us, I see some dismal warnings surrounding the aviation industry. Throughout history, fear and compassion have sold papers, and they now get hits or clicks online. Once you get past the dreadful headlines and look into the data, I see a much brighter road ahead. Yes, airlines had massive furloughs and reductions in scheduled service. Yes, several flight schools were shuttered due to virus concerns. Yes, pilots tended to fly fewer hours this year. Yes, there’s been a recent uptick in GA accidents nationwide, and General Aviation aircraft sales have tanked. Those are the headlines, but not the full stories. With the furloughs, many pilots have re-entered the instructor arena and are able to offer students a new perspective with actual experience. Others have moved into the burgeoning corporate flying market. Large flight schools being closed down meant that independent flight instructors are now fully scheduled. Many of these instructors instruct for the love of teaching and flying, rather than a path to commercial careers. The uptick in accidents means responsible pilots are paying closer attention to checklists, weather conditions, and weight/balance so as not to become part of the statistic. General Aviation shipments through the 3rd quarter of 2020 were nearly $12B with another $2B in rotorcraft. Yes, it’s down from 2019’s numbers, but that is still a significant number of new aircraft entering the market. While it’s certainly not all candy and roses, it’s not doom and gloom for the industry, either.
Going forward into 2021, I believe the value of general aviation will shine. The reality of transporting a family across a long distance with minimum contact is more beneficial than ever before. The reduction in commercial routes makes General Aviation more useful. As natural disasters are encountered nationwide, the growing infrastructure of volunteer “airlifts” of much needed supplies will help support those in need quickly. I’m hopeful that our pilot community will continue to participate in WINGS seminars, study accident reports, and remain more than current in the aircraft they fly.
2021 will be what we make of it – let’s make it fantastic!