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Has recreational aviation peaked?

Guest howard

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Guest howard

I know I should really be talking up rec av, but I beleive that current


world events will have the effect of causing serious declines in the


future of both private GA and rec av.


My reasoning is based on two things:


1. The introduction of ASIC. Those who need an ASIC will have to fork


out anything between an estimated low end price of $100 and a currently


know high end price of $238 every two years in order to operate into


any of the 190+ airports around the country that handle RPT. This is


around 40%-50% in addition to the annual RA-Aus membership/pilot fee.


I would like to know how pilots feel about what impact ASIC will have on their future flying.


2. Fuel prices. I know that I am currently paying $1.38 per litre for


mogas and I haven't checked the local price on avgas, but I can guess


at it being around $1.45.


What impact will the fuel price have on your flying. Will you just be


flying less, or will you be parking the aircraft up and not bothering


to re-register it? What impact will it have on your membership? Will


you be changing from a flying membership to a non-flying membership, as


I have done, or will you not be renewing your membership?


I need to gauge feelings, preferably before tomorrow, as I want the


Treasurer to redo the budget to look at what sort of reduction in


activity we can sustain without going too far into the red.


Personally, I beleive that rec av will not be as effected by world


events as will be private GA. I believe that private GA will all but


die in the next 12 months.


Sorry to sound the doomsayer, but I think we need to face up to reality.



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Guest TOSGcentral

OK Howard, I will answer you to start with.


Let us make one thing very clear however! I am NOT jumping on some form


of political hobby horse and stirring up trouble! But as you say we


have to face realities – so let’s face some!


As you are well aware I have some ‘anti establishment’ issues (that


I can easily justify, have done, have been met with a deafening silence


– and in consequence resigned all of my instructor ratings, from Pilot


Examiner downwards, in disgust and lack of will to take that form of


responsibility in this organisation)!


Is Rec Aviation dying. NO it is most definitely not! GA may well die,


as you predict. It is a dinosaur with antiquated ‘approved’ technology


and almost impossible for forward thinking go getters to make a


foothold in without condemning themselves to the breadline! As well as


a user market that increasingly cannot afford it!


The moves made by RA-Aus have given an alternative! An obvious


alternative that has been brewing and orchestrated for many years now –


pity nobody had the balls to tell the members clearly what was going on


though and do it right (as I think we could have)!


Even a greater pity that the management of AUF/RA-Aus was so bloody


incompetent it could not also use those years to put in place a


responsible Tech Manual and Operations Procedures to cover what we had


already to control – without contemplating the support for what has


been so avidly attracted – and users will avidly grab to get what they


want – providing they do not have to take ultimate responsibility for


it – just stand the Board and the Management up to not refuse what they


themselves have stupidly put in place!


So in context and to answer your specific questions:


1. ASIC. Could not give a stuff! Does not affect me and totally


disinterested in it! I am currently an Ultralight pilot in the real


meaning of the term and have no interest or need to go to those areas


where an ASIC card is needed.


However it may be an issue for people who want to use expensive ultralights as de facto GA aircraft!


2. Fuel Costs. So bloody what? We squark about the blatant escalation


of motor fuel for our cars and wear it because we have to! With


aircraft we are talking something entirely different and I do not see


people resigning memberships and laying up aircraft because of it. The


investment is too high (at any level) and you just curtail your flying hours a bit (the


average member does not do a great deal anyway so a couple of hours


here and there will not account for much in terms of a couple of


hundred dollars over a year!)


However it may do, to the people encouraged by RA-Aus, via that they


want to use their aircraft as GA aircraft and overall fuel costs could


be significant on repeated long trips! Really that is their business.


Sell the Mercedes and get one of the current economical ‘roller


skates’! But it depends what they want to fly for! We did not have


these problems with 40 ltr tanks and 50 knot cruise so why is it an


issue now?


I AM NOT knocking various peoples wants and desires. But I really have


little sympathy for people with $100,000 machines quacking about a few


cents rise in fuel or a dollar or two a week for a bloody card if they


insist they have to go there.


I have far more sympathy for the people who’s airfields have been


usurped by this card, whatever they fly, and in that area there should


be only two alternatives – fight it convincingly as a combined industry


or do what I did – go make yourself a secure airfield – but be prepared


for a few years doing it!


Possibly of more summation to you Howard for the meeting tomorrow:


I would put the potential “AUF†membership at about 4500 – if we had aircraft such as the Vision 600 really enter production (that covered sensible low end training and support for the traditional market in both nose and tailwheel formats).


In real terms we probably have only 3500 – 4000 low end members and


that is not sustainable income for the tech and ops levels of support


really required.


As it is we have a declining low end and an escalating top end so I


think we may be topping out a bit, but there is the clear potential to


go to about 8000 members over the next 3 years with flow-over from GA.


That is assuming the low end is catered for adequately and there is


sufficient incentive for manufactures and importers to supply aircraft


to that end. Lose the low end and we will probably be virtually


stagnant in membership growth – losing the low end as fast as we get


the high end intake!


Overall Howard this has not been managed well! You know as well as I do


what has happened and you equally know it cannot be put in print!


I have tried to help by responding to your request. Want to help me/us?


I have a very large paper in to the Board on management – try and see


it is at least heard – I am not at all hopeful on past performance.


A story to end up with.


The gliding world went through something similar many years ago both in


mainstream gliders and especially motor gliders. The movements were run


by ‘people who know better’ and were experienced enough to have their


own desires.


Today the gliding movements have done it real well in support terms but


are struggling in membership terms - which is the bread and butter of


movements, schools and clubs! With all the high flown crap about what


movements should be really about (for the experienced)


they forgot a golden basic – 75% of the recreational flying population


really only want to fly locally, or do short cross countries – that is


all! They probably only want to fly an hour a fortnight – but they


cannot without a movement’s support and corresponding support


infrastructure and encouragement and all at affordable and safe levels!


That really is the answer to your questions Howard!







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Guest phila

I don't necessarily agree with Tony but then I'm at the other end of


the spectrum. I generally fly the longer trips in a $135,000 "plastic


fantastic". For me the extra dollar or two per week for the ASIC and


the extra few dollars in fuel probably won't change my flying habits


much. What I think is that the Rec aviation fraternity will continue to


grow as the GA field continues to diminish. Given that we only use a


small amount of fuel, generally around 12 litres per hour, the rising


prices don't affect us that much - 12 x 40c = $4.80 per hour. But for


the GA guys burning 35 or more litres per hour it really hurts - 35 x


40c = $14.00 per hour. So I think that we'll see a growth in RAA rather


than a decline and I think that the hours flown by existing members


probably won't change all that much.







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I am with Phil in flying an f-18, but I do like to see the low end as


well. But round here, south NSW, many of the CTAF airfields have one


RPT a day or less, but we will all require an ASIC card to fly there.


Not sure what an ASIC card will do for security and for some of the low


hours per year pilots it may be quite an impost. The CTAFs that I use,


Moruya for instance, have rag and tube stuff that Tony H likes, as well


as kit built low wing one designs and the new F-18 plastic fantastics.


All fly quite happily from the airfield, except when the RPT does


straight in approaches from the north when 36 is the active runway !!!!


There is not much land available down here suitable for your own strip,


or any new strips for that matter (something to do with the GDR and stuff), so current airstips/airfields it has to be.


I am not sure the fuel price is that much of an issue regardless of


what you fly in RA-Aus, but ASIC may be another matter. Also, the


reducing number of places to fly from may cause a problem. At the


moment most RA-Aus planes require far less distance to land and takeoff


(or should that be the other way around?),


but with the closing of many council strips and the inability to find


suitable land and councils that will let you do the antisocial thing (unless there is a kid that needs to be flown out or a bush fire), we may be forced out by lack of places to commit aviation.







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Guest Peter T

Peter T


I think you have all missed one basic fact. You cannot operate


ultralights no matter how fantastic commercially and they are and will


be pax limited anyway it is in this end that GA survive. No matter how


much you bull on about fa18"s they are NOT nor ever can be nor can they


replace four seats CASA and the industry will see to that.


As for Rec avaition having peaked I agree with Howard if it hasnt now


it will. Why because there are more people out there with 20k to spend


than 120k. The buyers at 100k plus are an ever shrinking market and


were small to begin with so there is no growth there.


With the Board neglecting the little blokes as a matter of course or


self interest the rump will shrink upwards as Toney predicts. We have


literally shat in our own nest.



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I think it can still grow but as Tony said it needs work to keep it


healthy. The low end is where a lot of the market is. How many people


want to go out and have some cheap fun for an hour a week/month or


putting it another way how many people can afford $50 a week/month!


Most people can even high school student can con Mum and Dad into that!


Ultralights will kill the low end of G.A. When the G.A. student wakes up and realizes that he can do pretty much up to his GFPT (about 25hrs)


in an Ultralight at half the price of a rusty old Cessna there will be


no need for two seater G.A. training. When the Business man who owns a


C172 realises that he can own a brand new plastic for $110k versus a 30


year old piece of junk that burns twice as much fuel that costs 10c a


litre more he will change. Take a look at all the C172’s and PA28’s


they can’t carry more than 3 people at the best of times and 90% of the


time would carry two up at most. The only market left for these


aircraft are scenic flights which isn’t that big real charter needs a


minimum of six seats and two engines (or a Turbine) to even get close to making money.


The problem is that we need to get out there and make sure everyone


knows what is available in ultralights as most people have there heads


in the sand!







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I also agree that GA is declining rapidly (but we all know that that is a fact)


and that ultralights WILL keep increasing for a couple of years yet -


as long as we engage in active promotion to those out there that still


think an ultralight is ONLY a chute with a seat that scares a lot of


people. We all know that the label ultralight these days is extremely


broad and I believe the general public are not aware of the great


variety of aircraft that exists today.


The point is: Everyone wants to fly, they just don't know it yet!



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All this talk of ASICs is a bit moot as far as I'm concerned. I requested - AND PAID FOR - my ASIC through RA-Aus last November. It's now end of May and I don't seem to be getting any nearer.


Fortunately the so called airport security w**kers are up to their usual standard and I've never been asked for it anyway. If and when I am, I'll show my (now laminated) receipt from RA-Aus and suggest that they take up their enquiries at that end.


I guess if my name was Bin Laden I would have received it by now, but because I was born in this country and have a clean record, I'm confusing the poor dumb pubes who are trying to check us out.





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A lot of what I think has been said here one way or another already.


But I think the reported death of GA is a bit premature - it still has an important function, and it is not at all in RAAus' interest for it to decline.


Fuel is a widely debated issue. Putting aside global supply issues (the peak oil argument etc.), the cost rise we are currenlty experiencing is caused by globaly petro-politics (Bush sabre rattling everywhere he turns), and of course Iran - [Nuclear ambition? I think not - more likely the US fear that Iran is intending to trade their Fuel in Euros instead of USD, making the USD even more worthless.].


And of course, there is some real profit taking happening with the fuel suppliers at the moment. Check the rises in the fuel compnay profits. The collusion between the refiners in Australia (not to mention the bounty for the Commonwealth through GST and excsie increase) is pushing up the price more than current supply / refining capacity issues would suggest it should be. It is of course total corruption, but the ACCC appears powerless to act.


However, I sense that the price has met a resistance level now (around $1.20-1.30 in Brisbane) where demand has dropped. A slow down in economic activity will probably hold it in this range for a while, if the peaking in resource demands suggest.


Wow - what a rant! But as has been said, if you are flying say 100 hours a year at 18l/hour your total fuel price for the year is $2340 or $45/week, or $23.40 per hour. (based on $1.30 PULP).


If fuel rises 10% it is another 23 c per hour. I dont think this is enough to deter fliers. It is of course going to have much bigger effect on the GA fleet, and that will probably see a continuation of 'trickle down' pilots from GA to RA.


ASIC - it is an ineffective waste of money as we all know. I don't think it will stop people flying, but it is strange that even the USA does not require such a draconian identification requirement.


Paul Willett



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Recreational Aviation is still a long way from it's peak. General Aviation is far from dead. The Aviation community is simply adjusting to the many issues we are facing. Eventually the scene will level out. The new generation of Recreational Aircraft are ensuring the growth of the sector. We will get used to the cost of fuel. Do we consider how much a litre of water costs at the deli? ASIC's are with useven if we don't like it,so divide the cost with your flying hours over two years to get the real cost impost per hour. I know it's a simplistic view, but i believe that our passion for flying will keep us doing just that. We will all adjust to what is best for us all as individuals. The most important thing for us all is be positive above all. Ed Herring



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Guest danda

I read these comments with interest and wonder why we get so carried away, anyway after all what will be will be, my thinking is that there will always be GA as there will there beRec Av human beings are very adaptable there is always around things it the old saying necessity is the mother of invention.


The ASIC thing I will admit is a bit of a pain in the rear end however it’s hear to stay weather we like it or not, if we think we are exempt from some deranged individual performing some bazaar act of barbarism within Australia we have rocks in our head however how a little piece of plastic is going to stop such an act is beyond me.


The price of fuel hurts many but sadly in Australia we cry out for a little while then drop the ball for some other agenda that has captured our imaginations.


Politicians survive from vote to vote not one has the courage to vote or the future beyond 3 years isn’t it time to make them accountable?


Sorry I do rave a little.





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Guest Fred Bear

Guys, read your annual DOTARS report. GA activity has actually INCREASED !!!


It was around a 2.5% increase last year if I recall correctly and I'm not sure when the newest one is due. I've seen records in the RA-Aus mag from readers suggesting a 12.5% decrease; this is incorrect. The biggest increase is in Private GA flying.


You only have to visit Moorabbin, Essendon or perhaps Bankstown to realise that it's not dead. 7 aircraft in the circuit at Moorabbin this morning is a good indication that all is well.


It isn't in decline, that's for sure.



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It is a mixed bag. Although the general consensus seems to be that GA is in decline, which is not how DOTARS is reporting it, there will always be a need for GA.


RA-Aus is the organisation where people who 'want' to fly and have the funds to fly (be it limited or not) are able to fly. If people want to make a career out of flying let them get their training with RA-Aus, then progress on to the GA track.


RA-Aus is certainly not pushing the decline of its 'low end' at all. Nothing has changed for people wanting to build their own aircraft, or produce a 'low end' aircraft.


Yes, their numbers are constant if no new ones are registered and yes, in the view of ALL aircraft their percentage in total is dropping based on new registrations but people will make their own mind up when buying an aircraft and choose something that they like or something they get sold because they dont know any different.


The 'low end' are simply sitting around in sheds somewhere not being used. Why? Ask the pilots why they are not flying them anymore.


Natfly certainly encourages ALL aviation minded people to turn up. The evidence was clear this year with many VH aircraft in attendance also. The 'low end' were either put off by the weather or simply chose not to travel by air. I certainly hope that the 'lightweight buzzards' will barnstorm next years Natfly and take up all of the main parking area.


It seems that the amount of people with 100K in their pocket may not be as limited as some may think.


Just my own thoughts on the subject..





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Guest micgrace



I'd say GA has probably levelled out as some people will always want to be commercial pilots no matter what. My son is among that category, but will go to RAA first, when suffieciently old enough.


Hopefully my design could be ready to attend. So there's one at least.


But at the end of the day I won't leave the ground to go if there's the slightest hint of rain.





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