The Economic Impact of Private & Sport Aviation
Adding good economic data is a useful goal, but is there collateral use?
The School of Business at George Mason University, perhaps the nation’s (only?) public university with a conservative reputation, has published a survey which is intended to study “the Economic Impact of Private and Sport Aviation.” Two different publications have published identical descriptions of the scope and intent of this study:
Aviation is thrilling, awe-inspiring, and filled with adrenaline. Private aviation has also become a safe mode of transportation and pleasure. But while reliability and safety of flying have improved exponentially, so have the associated costs. This transition has resulted in a significant portion of aviation enthusiasts grounded, unable to afford such an expensive hobby.
This study addresses the challenges of increased costs associated to private and sport aviation for plane owners, pilots and enthusiasts by focusing on three major components:
• Measuring utilization rate of aircrafts
• Exploring cost variables associated with flying time, plane ownership maintenance and other financial considerations
• Gauging level of investment (in terms of money and time) in aviation
Here is the link to the questionnaire:
Economic impact studies can produce data which is very useful for aviation. Airport impact studies are almost required if the facility’s management wants to tell a positive story about this attractive nuisance. These documents calculate the on and off airport activities which contribute to the local community’s finances. Fuel sales, maintenance salaries, mechanics, service providers and other cash sources are catalogued as direct impacts and secondary benefits include the professionals (doctors, lawyers, accountants, sales associates, etc.).
The FAA annually surveys General Aviation and uses those data to forecast the next year’s and intermediate term activity levels. The report includes:
The FAA work product is not intended to assess commercial measures as the GMU’s stated goal; for example, the government survey captures fuel prices and it is very comprehensive in collecting activity rates, but it is not designed to conclude, as the GMU description says it will, that higher prices are influencing hours of flying.
If you decide to try the GMU instrument, pay attention to the specific questions and ask yourself whether the questions/answers are directed to the stated goals. For example, there a number of lines of questions which appear to examining the Part 91 pilot’s privilege to accept a passenger’s payment of the flight expenses.
Part of George Mason University is its Mercatus Center, the “world’s premier university source for market-oriented ideas—bridging the gap between academic ideas and real-world problems.” Its Board includes some very well-known libertarian advocates and the Center has taken positions suggesting that the FAA’s safety policies have inhibited economic growth in aviation.
Allies in the libertarian perspective (i.e. the Cato Institute), that rules which support safety and deter business, have attacked the FAA on its definition of commercial air transportation by “flight share” ventures. The survey questions might well be used to argue that the historical “compensation of hire” test should be voided and Flytenow should be allowed.
Adding good economic data about Private and Sport Aviation’s positive contributions to the national economy is a useful goal. Using the data collected for other purposes would seem disingenuous.