Giving Thanks

Aviation's best years are still to come.

Diamond DA40 Sunrise

Diamond DA40 Sunrise

Anybody who follows general aviation knows that we've got our share of problems. The list goes on and on: New airplanes cost too much. FAA regulations and mandates are suffocating us. GA airports are under constant attack. The EPA wants to outlaw our 100LL avgas. Too few pilots are still flying.

With so much to complain about it's easy to succumb to the crushing weight of interminable pessimism, throw up our hands and shout, "What's the use?"

But we actually have a lot to be thankful for. For instance, the FAA will soon publish the Part 23 rewrite, an overhaul of decades-old small airplane certification rules that should help bring prices down, spur innovation and boost safety. At the same time, Congress is considering third-class medical reform that would make it easier for tens of thousands of pilots to continue flying. We're even making progress on the avgas front as the FAA and industry partners move swiftly ahead with the Piston Aviation Fuel Initiative (PAFI) research program to develop a leaded avgas alternative.

At last week's NBAA Convention, optimism was in full bloom. More than 1,100 aviation companies exhibited in a million square feet of hall space inside the sprawling Las Vegas Convention Center. Despite persistent headwinds for the industry, there were smiles everywhere.

According to a market forecast released by Honeywell, as well as those from Embraer and others, next year is expected to be "flat-ish" — i.e. down slightly — but the reason why might surprise you. Bizjet buyers are holding off because they know so many amazing new airplanes — from the Gulfstream G500 and G600 to the Dassault 5X and 8X to the Cessna Citation Latitude and Hemisphere to the HondaJet and Pilatus PC-24 — are closing in on certification. This tide of new airplanes will fuel the next bizav boom, experts say.

I predict the same will prove true for the lower segments of general aviation. Buyers are waiting for the Part 23 rewrite to become a reality and holding off on buying that shiny new LSA as they watch what's happening on the third-class medical reform front and dream of owning something bigger, faster and more capable.

Will these positive changes cure what ails GA overnight? Of course not. But it's a step in the right direction, and something for which we should be deeply thankful, especially in light of all that has gone against the industry in the last several years.

In anticipation of the progress we see just over the horizon, Flying will be expanding our editorial reach to include more pilots and prospective pilots. As the world's largest newsstand aviation magazine, we will be sharpening the focus of the print magazine to provide current pilots with information they need, as well as additional content designed to inspire, inform, entertain and educate everyone from a brand new student pilot to a multi-thousands-hour airline captain.

If you aren't currently receiving Flying, I'd like to suggest you treat yourself to a subscription at a special year-end price. You'll want to be a part of this transformation as we take the magazine to new heights with the full confidence that aviation's best days still lie ahead.