Economic Impact of General Aviation

Executive Summary

A truly national transportation asset

There are 5,136 public-use airports that can be directly accessed by general aviation. That is more than ten times the number of airports served by scheduled airlines. This makes general aviation uniquely situated to serve the public’s transportation needs.

These airports and general aviation are often the only option for fast, reliable, flexible air transportation to small and rural communities in every corner of the country, providing jobs, serving as a lifeline for small to mid-sized businesses, and providing critical services to remote cities and towns in time of natural disaster or crisis.

Millions of jobs

In 2018, a comprehensive study by PricewaterhouseCoopers concluded that employment from general aviation totaled more than 1.1 million jobs in that year.

An economic powerhouse

That same study pegged the national total economic contribution of general aviation at $246.8 billion annually.

Additional economic impact can be inferred from the 2,200 charter flight companies, 4,144 repair stations, and 569 flight schools operating 4,653 aircraft. There are 3,330 fixed base operators, 18 “fractional” ownership providers, and 261,806 airframe and powerplant specialists.

A large pilot community

According to the Federal Aviation Administration, the United States has nearly 600,000 pilots, the vast majority of whom fly general aviation aircraft.

Business use

According to a 2015 study by Harris Poll, about 4 out of 5 business aviation flights are into an airport with infrequent or no scheduled airline service, or into a secondary airport. About 2 in 5 flights involve multi-leg trips to more than one destination.

According to the same study, passengers of these flights spend nearly two-thirds of their time on the aircraft on work-related tasks.

Humanitarian missions

According to a 2015 study by Harris Poll, about a quarter of business aircraft pilots responded that they flew on humanitarian missions in the past year.

Medical, law enforcement and agricultural use

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, in 2007 roughly 1 in every 5 large law enforcement agencies had a specialized aviation unit operating at least one fixed-wing plane or helicopter. Aerial law enforcement is used in 46 states.

According to the National Agricultural Aviation Association, there are approximately 1,350 aerial application businesses that use general aviation to support their farms and local communities.

In addition, with 46.7 million Americans living more than an hour away from a Level 1 or 2 trauma center, air medical services and air ambulances are more critical than ever. MedEvac fixed-wing aircraft transport 150,000 patients annually over long distances which are not within the range of helicopters. MedEvac helicopters transport approximately 400,000 patients annually.

The MedEvac industry employs 4,400 pilots, 600 physicians, 5,500 nurses, and 5,300 paramedics/EMTs staffing MedEvac vehicles, both fixed-wing and helicopter.