..."Accessibility" The Key
"Accessibility" was a common theme in the sessions but it meant different things to different sectors. For Raburn and Eclipse, it's about what he views as the necessary conversion of general aviation to turbine engines. "The military did it in the 50s, the airlines did it in the 60s and business aviation did it in the 1970s," he said. "We need to turbinize general aviation." Klapmeier said general aviation became largely irrelevant when airline travel became more accessible. By changing "people's expectation of safety" and focusing on training to make learning to fly a more comfortable and less daunting experience, Klapmeier said general aviation becomes more appealing and he believes the next 10 years are pivotal. "We're right at that tipping point," he said. Raburn and Klapmeier agreed the Sport Pilot/Light Sport Aircraft movement is crucial to that effort. Much has been made of the fact that there are U.S.-made LSAs (three of 17 models certified are American and one of them is an adaptation of a J-3 Cub) but Johnson said the 10-year head start that European manufacturers have, combined with stringent noise and environmental standards on the other side of the pond, have ensured that the new class of airplanes will have plenty of mass market appeal. For instance, most of the European entrants comply with German regulations that require a noise level of 55 dB at 500 feet, the equivalent of normal conversation. Quiet, capable and well-performing aircraft will entice more people to try flying and that's the underpinning of a successful industry.