GENERAL AVIATION OVERVIEW

General Aviation includes all civil aviation operations except the military and scheduled and non-scheduled air transport operations for hire. It includes all types of recreational, instructional, personal and business flight activity from gliders to public service helicopters to corporate jets.

Pilot population - certificate type
Out of 544,342 total pilots in the U.S., 177,477 pilots hold a Private certificate, while 150,109 hold an Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) certificate and 99,446
hold a Commercial certificate. There are 342,548 FAA certificated Aircraft Mechanics.

While most of these pilots fly piston engine aircraft, others fly aircraft ranging from turboprops to rotorcraft, gliders/balloons, experimental, light-sport aircraft, business jets and more.

Total U.S. Pilots 544,342
Student 111,694
Recreational 190
Sport 5,456
Private 177,477
Commercial 99,446
Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) 150,109
Rotorcraft Only 15,556
Glider Only 19,460
Certified Flight Instructor (CFI) 99,872
Aircraft Mechanic 342,548

Source: GAMA/FAA - 2015

Top 10 states - pilots

52% of the U.S. pilot population reside in these10 states. California has 58,901 pilots (11%). Florida has 54,524 pilots (10%), while Texas has 49,675 (9%).

10 busiest GA airports  
State Certificated
Pilots
% Pilot
Population
California 58,901 11%
Florida 54,524 10%
Texas 49,675 9%
Washington 18,888 3%
Arizona 18,325 3%
Georgia 17,913 3%
Colorado 17,583 3%
Illinois 15,997 3%
New York 15,744 3%
Ohio 14,843 3%
Total Top 10 282,393 52%

Source: FAA 2015

Total active general aviation aircraft by type
Total U.S. GA Aircraft 204,408
Single Engine Piston 126,036
Single Engine Piston – Light Sport 6,435
Total Single Engine 132,471
Multi Engine Piston 13,146
Total Piston 145,617
Single Engine Turboprop 4,590
Multi engine Turboprop 5,188
Total Turboprop 9,778
Turbojet - Turbofan
Piston Helicopter 3,154
Turbine Helicopter 6,812
Total Helicopter 9,966
Experimental 26,191
Gliders 1,791
Lighter Than Air 2,908
Special Light Sport 2,231

Source: GAMA - FAA - 2015

General aviation aircraft hours flown annually by type (in thousands)
Piston Engine Airplanes 11,967
Turboprop Airplanes 2,613
Rotorcraft 3,242
Gliders/Balloons 159
Experimental 1,244
Light Sport Aircraft 142

Source - FAA Survey

Airports in the United States

There are 5,168 public use airports and 5,418 heliports. Only 551 of these airports are served by scheduled and non-scheduled commercial carriers. There are 272 “Military Only” airports in the U.S.

10 busiest GA airports

10 busiest general aviation airports in the U.S.
Airports Annual Operations
1 Phoenix, AZ - Deer Valley 373,401
2 Centennial, CO 286,783
3 Long Beach, CA 279,047
4 Earnest A Love Field, AZ 268,283
5 Kendall-Tamiami, FL 264,301
6 Gillespie Field, CA 229,517
7 Chandler Municipal Airport, AZ 222,428
8 Montgomery Field Airport, CA 220,667
9 Van Nuys, CA 219,279
10 Daytona Beach, FL 213,345