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General aviation

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General aviation is a term that encompasses all civil aviation other than the scheduled airlines and government aviation.

It includes everything from a privately-owned light single-engine aircraft to business jets, news gathering, pipeline patrol, emergency medical flights, crop-dusting, rotocraft, sport ballooning and many other aerial activities.

Most of the traffic in general aviation is flown under visual flight rules (VFR) in contrast to airline traffic which is mostly flown by reference to instruments (IFR) wherever ground facilities adequately support that type of navigation. The ground facilities needed for most general aviation flights are generally less sophisticated than those required by the armed forces or airlines operating scheduled flights, but there are many differences between the smaller grass aerodromes and those capable of accepting the larger corporate aircraft on international flights. Some of these differences simply reflect the different speeds and capabilities of aircraft types in common use, whilst others reflect regulations imposed to safeguard the safety of pilots, passengers and nearby communities.

All public use airports, including airports which are served by commercial carriers, have some general aviation traffic, although GA users in the United States are subject to user fees at the larger airports.

The following statistics are from the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Factbook of 2001:

Aircraft by type


Piston 170,500 Turboprop 5,800 Jet 7,000
183,300

Aircraft by type of flying


Corporate 11,000 Business 25,200 Personal 148,200 Instructional 14,900 Flight 4,300 Aerial observation 5,100 External load 200 Other work 1,800 Siteseeing 900 Air tour 300 Air taxi 3,700 Air medical 900 Other 1,000
217,500

Pilots by certificate type


Private 243,823 Commercial 12,502 ATP 144,702
612,274

Estimated total hours flown under General Aviation rules CFR.91: 29,000,000

Number of accidents in 2001 by type of operation


Air Taxi 72 Other General Aviation 1721

Further information can be found in the "Aviation Saftey Foundation Nall Report" which is released each year by ASF based on data from National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) reports.

See Also



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