GA Piston Sales: Barely Above A Flat Line

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As I was putting a sharp pencil on last week’s GA production numbers from GAMA, I couldn’t decide if I was looking at a flat calm mill pond or the dead quiet before some kind of storm. So I graphed out a decade worth of production numbers and I’m going with a pond that could be about to have a rock thrown into it. Let me explain.

First, the graph. If it shows anything, it depicts a market that, while not in utter decline, is hardly robust. It should remind editorial writers to keep the actual numbers in mind when writing upbeat stories about the state of the market. I’m not sure I did when I wrote this. In my weak defense, the second-day story is supposed to put things in perspective.

A caveat here: The graph is first-quarter numbers only, which is all I have for 2018 comparison so it made sense to compare these across the board. The bright spot is that soaring red line that represents Cirrus. Trace it all the way back to 2011 and you’ll see the company is doing well, and especially so since 2014. Then look at the blue line. That’s Cessna’s bumpy trend downward since 2011. The directionality of this output carries through for the year-end production totals, too, although Cessna beat Cirrus in some of those years. If you’re wondering about Mooney, its production is so low as to drop into the noise at the scale of the graph. Similarly, to reduce clutter, I didn’t plot Beechcraft sales, but I did fold those into the Textron data from 2014 forward.

In explaining Cirrus, several things are at work, in my view. The first is they got the product right and found a cohort of buyers who resonate with its modern ethos as a comfortable luxury traveler with the added safety of the BRS system. And those buyers are loyal repeat customers. Many of them are stepping into the Vision Jet. Not to be dismissed is the Cirrus sales force. Want a ride in one? The salesman will call you back.

Cessna, on the hand, seems focused on the institutional sales that have made the 172 such a mainstay. Volume wise, it’s still Cessna’s leading seller. Cessna’s dealer network was once the crown jewel of general aviation marketing. You couldn’t open a car door without bumping into a Cessna banner and a salesman to make the pitch. Two years ago, amidst some industry grumbling, they switched to factory direct. In my view, that’s just never been as effective. In the contemporary world of low-volume airplane selling, Cessna—Textron, really—evidently thought it made sense. I’m not so sure.

So when I saw last week’s quarterly numbers—just 23 piston airplanes for Cessna—my immediate reaction was to wonder if Cessna can sustain a business plan with that kind of volume. Or if the company will want to. Textron is anything but a sentimental company. It suffers little delay in hacking off underperforming products and appendages.

Note that just in the past two years, Cessna has dropped the Skycatcher LSA, the TTx high-performance single and, last week, the JT-A Skyhawk. In the last three months, Textron sold one each of the Baron and G36, according to GAMA. High margins on those airplanes, probably, but is such low volume worthy of the overhead? Does the parts and service tail make it worth sustaining them? I’m not sure I want to know the answer.

What if Cessna did exit the piston business? It’s not like it hasn’t done it before and under similar circumstances. I’m occasionally asked about this very scenario, as though a guy with a blog and a bad attitude has a clue. Could Piper step up? It already has, to a degree. Piper has bagged some nice, albeit not enormous, trainer orders recently. It can rightly claim a 31 percent increase in volume for the first quarter, but that’s only eight airplanes.

Piper’s model is bifurcated. Sell the hell out of the high margin M-Class airplanes and buttress that with a companion build-to-order business for piston singles and twins.

But look at the graph. Cessna’s numbers are small and so are Piper’s. How much business is really there is a mirage, in my view. In fact, I am more and more given to the conviction that demand for training airplanes, while real enough, is overblown because we in the aviation press continue to pump the narrative. Yes, there’s a pilot shortage and yes trainers are needed. But I’m skeptical that those lines are going to trend sharply upward. I think we’ll see little clutches of sales, not great gaggles.

For what it’s worth, the current sales environment ought to be about as good as it gets. According to the IMF, the world economy is steaming along at 3.9 percent growth and emerging economies are doing a point better than that. The U.S. is at 2.9 percent and the Dow flirts with new records.

Informed bystanders argue that, duh, look at the prices of these things to explain the flat lines. That’s part of it, I’m sure, but so is value, evidently, because a fully equipped SR22 costs more than $900,000. For the first quarter, that model alone sold at twice the rate of Cessna’s entire output.  

Two years from now or five, we can just resurrect this blog and plug in new numbers and dates. Will that blue line for Cessna still be there? What’s your guess?

Comments (45)

Well, one thing is very clear. Even though I do not agree with the BRS philosophy, it does sell planes to wives and girl friends. Cirrus has masterfully captured and capitalized on how to sell an airplane to a man. Sell it to the women first.

Posted by: Tom Cooke | May 13, 2018 6:30 AM    Report this comment

Even though staying somewhat upbeat and positive on the current market and its momentum, looking at a cold statistic always seems detrimental to my own personal mental health maintenance program. I personally believe that Cessna just rang the K.O. bell on its piston single product line. Abandoning the Diesel Skyhawk may be financially justifiable, but it sends the most miserable message to people like me.

Liability remains the largest obstacle for the manufacturer of any certified airplane. Unless you are building your own aircraft prior to crashing it and killing yourself in it, someone has to secure the company from millions and millions in lawsuits filed by the very people who once smiled and encouraged you to plant your bum in an airplane. Its the pilots families who often sue and its the families of the people those pilots killed.

Cirrus seems to have figured out that putting the price out of range for most people magazine readers is already beneficial to selecting a different user-base. I assume half of the money in each sale is banked just to secure the company from the next frivolous lawsuit, that will cost millions to litigate, no matter if it's justified or not.

Every certified airplane that runs off the production line is a cash cow opportunity for the ambulance-chaser to convince a jury of idiots that the poor pilot was victimized by the evil, profit-driven airplane manufacturing corporation and therefore his bereaved family should be awarded millions and millions of dollars in compensation.

So how could we fix this? If you buy, rent or lease any certified airplane you have to sign an agreement that if you crash the plane and it's determined to be pilots fault - or at least NOT the fault of the manufacturer - then you are unable to sue the OEM.

Next, open the FAA as certifying agency (which approved the thing) to being named in lawsuits. In the end, if OEM shows that the FAA put its final signature under the concept and design, then why are they not financially liable?

Posted by: Jason Baker | May 13, 2018 9:46 AM    Report this comment

Cessna's (Textron's) GA Anemia = Lacking in color, spirit, appeal, bang for the buck and vitality. Not surprised the diesel version is gone. Waiting for the others to fade away before 2020.

Posted by: Rafael Sierra | May 13, 2018 3:19 PM    Report this comment

Would new engine technology like the EPS diesel bring increased sales? How much of a dent do GA8s make replacing the 206/207 fleet? Will electric or hybrid planes revitalize GA and put an end to pistons in ten years?

Posted by: Gareth Allen | May 13, 2018 3:37 PM    Report this comment

It seems to me that the lack of persons getting into flying is a reflection of the lack of sales of small airplanes. Everyone is so concerned about the alleged "pilot shortage" for the airlines that there seems to be a lack of any concern over student pilot starts for pilots who are starting to fly just for fun. All of the ideas brought up to "speed up" the training process does little to enhance the "fun" aspect of learning to fly. When you consider what it takes to get a private certificate and legally maintain it along with the cost of airplane ownership, no wonder people go to other pursuits to occupy their spare time. Training and airplane requirement changes by the FAA have not helped, along with TSA "security" requirements, and of course our lawsuit happy legal system. How many airports in the US still have observation areas where persons interested in aviation can watch airplanes take off and land? Until the person off the street starts showing interest in aviation, light airplane sales will never return to the levels seen in the late 70's. I agree that Textron's final objective is to leave the piston market entirely. Too bad their corporate execs are so short sighted to not be able to see that if people are unable to learn the basics of flying in an inexpensive airplane that they will eventually run out of people to fly Cessna's shiny new jets!

Posted by: matthew wagner | May 13, 2018 4:12 PM    Report this comment

Why are so few new-manufacture small airplanes sold each year? IMWO:
1. Relatively few (read: almost none) people want to learn how to fly, these days. It seems to be a generational phenomenon. The closer in age you were to the Wright brothers, the more you were fascinated with all things aeronautical. Look at what a hundred years of separation will buy you...

2. New airplanes are expensive - way beyond their value proposition. But you don't have to be Howard Hughes, to buy an ugly-but-sound used bird; strip it inside and out; new engine and mount and prop, new panel, new interior, new paint; viola! Less than half the cost of a very pedestrian brand-new bird. And with the aviation-obsessed older generations leaving flying, it's a buyers' market - and it will be, for the foreseeable future: the supply vastly exceeds demand.

3. Like carbon paper, most of the designs still in production outlived their performance value, decades ago. To move the sales needle, something truly new is needed: autonomous aircraft that will enable and empower a vast population of potential non-pilot aviators. Pure-electric? Only if you've got a 1,500-mile-long extension cord.

The good (albeit in some quarters, unwelcome) news? Autonomous aircraft are coming. Safe, reliable transportation - for aircraft owners AND for ticket-purchasers.

More good news: The flood of autonomous aircraft will do nothing to hamper the realm of the primarily-for-fun pilot aviator. Ibid the amateur-built community.

The VERY unwelcome news? "Professional Pilot" will go the way of "Keypunch Operator."

In the sliver of time between now and then, are we likely to see a renaissance of light-aircraft production? My guess is we're more likely to see - very briefly - an extinction-level impact event. Another guess: In two years or less, Cessna will exit the market for anything smaller than their Caravan; Mooney is toast; Piper is not far behind. Chinese-owned Cirrus and Diamond will endure; Pipistrel will join them. Europe will become the center of GA innovation, rendering the Keystone-Cop FAA largely irrelevant. Literally millions of drones will overwhelm the poorly-conceived-and-implemented ADS-B paradigm; no matter - autonomous aircraft of all stripes will "work-it-out" among themselves, using LTE communications technologies. Brave. New. World.

Posted by: YARS (Tom Yarsley) | May 13, 2018 6:13 PM    Report this comment

How the heck did we get to here from the 18,000 or so airplanes sold in the late 70's?

Two words ... price and lawyers. Maybe a third ... those devices that everyone are mesmerized by.

Wait a minute ... just a couple of blogs ago the Vashon was gonna be the new C150. What happened?

Keystone Kops FAA ... irrelevant ... indeed.

Posted by: Larry Stencel | May 13, 2018 8:46 PM    Report this comment

Yars,

If automation is going to hurt the professional pilot industry, it will be from self-driving cars. Almost every domestic airline flight under one hour is no longer going to make sense when a self-driving car can do it door to door for less time, less cost, and more comfort.

Posted by: Gareth Allen | May 13, 2018 9:27 PM    Report this comment

Automation is inhuman!

Posted by: Rafael Sierra | May 13, 2018 11:06 PM    Report this comment

It's barely Monday, but Raf is in the lead for the Comment of the Week Award.

Posted by: YARS (Tom Yarsley) | May 13, 2018 11:15 PM    Report this comment

Paul, why is Technam with 45 piston airplanes in the quarter not on your chart?

Posted by: STEPHEN MALKINSON | May 13, 2018 11:17 PM    Report this comment

Stephen, Tecnam was on the chart. So were a couple of others, but this scale, it was hopelessly cluttered. So I retreated and sharpened the focus to make it more readable.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | May 14, 2018 4:08 AM    Report this comment

Maybe just the major dinosaurs are tanking? Outdated engines and designs at ridiculous prices? Sonaca supposedly wrote some 20 orders during AERO, Robin Aircraft and Aquila are selling at a healthy clip, and lots of other LSA's seem not to collect dust from sitting around waiting for buyers. I know of one small manufacturer who had to cancel all exhibits this year, because everytime he completes a new demo, someone shows up to buy it. I know of at least 5 flight schools hurting for instructors in helplessly strict Germany one in the US recently shut down due to a lack of qualified CFI's. Sumtin make no sense. Sumtin Wong!

Agree with Yars on the FAA's slowly fading mandate to regulate an industry that steadfastly refuses to smell the Wonton Soup that's flowing down most hallways with an iron fist. Storm of a century brewing itself together right now and some major shifts ahead.

Posted by: Jason Baker | May 14, 2018 6:16 AM    Report this comment

@FAA. What we have here is a charade of consequences by government and industry myopics. The decline continues. Revitalize GA by facilitating affordable manufacturing.

Posted by: Rafael Sierra | May 14, 2018 7:18 AM    Report this comment

There, I've done fixed it!

Posted by: Rafael Sierra | May 14, 2018 7:21 AM    Report this comment

Paul, at first I thought you were using a log scale on the y-axis (nice, but very rarely used in everyday articles); then I noticed it was actually two different graphs! It works.

Was really surprised to see the Skyhawk JT-A get canned after being the cover girl for AOPA Pilot this month...such a fall

Posted by: A Richie | May 14, 2018 8:56 AM    Report this comment

One other point about Tecnam. More than half of the output was ASTM aircraft, while the others were all certified. So their output is about 80 certified a year. Not bad, really. They have a mix that works.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | May 14, 2018 9:12 AM    Report this comment

"GA Piston Sales: Barely Above A Flat Line?

Van's just passed their 10,000th plane flying.
GAMA, as we see, is becoming increasingly irrelevant in General Aviation.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | May 14, 2018 9:13 AM    Report this comment

The line won't go up until antique designs cease to be the go to decision of flight schools. Cirrus is not the answer either unless the build a cheaper trainer.

The other big issue is the lack of airports near to where the people who can afford the planes live. Any plane will bore holes in the sky. Certified planes are justified by travel. If you live nearly an hour from your plane, you are likely to drive to destinations up to 250 miles away.

Robot cars and people carrying drone like things aren't going to help either.

Posted by: Eric Warren | May 14, 2018 10:48 AM    Report this comment

As I've said here before, Cessna (Textron) is not the future of GA. If it does not have a turbine engine, they are not interested. They only reason they continue building 172s and 182s is because the design and tooling are long since paid for, so production costs are minimal. But I agree with Paul that within a couple years they will drop both. Why Textron bought Beech is a mystery to me since their only viable products are the Bonanza and Baron, both of which are also approaching extinction.

Many readers here have disparaged the LSA market, but ironically it appears to be the stronger segment in sales volume. And, since most of the designs are from Europe, our continental cousins appear to be beating us at our own game. The future of GA lies in the hands of smaller companies like Vashon, or from the do-it-yourself segment like Vans, etc. They seem to know, and actually care, about what buyers want and are willing to bring that to market. Quick-build kits and factory assist programs have made home building a much more attractive option. The ASTM system may not be perfect, but if it gets around the dinosaurs at the FAA, that is one step in the right direction. Now if we could just find an engine manufacturer that could produce a modern, auto gas burning piston engine, we might have something.....

Posted by: John McNamee | May 14, 2018 11:30 AM    Report this comment

"Quick-build kits and factory assist programs have made home building a much more attractive option."

Unfortunately for a lot of people (like me), home building just isn't an option - I simply don't have the time, or more importantly, the space (not to mention the money) to build my own. Experimentals also tend not to be an option for flying clubs or flight schools, which means it's an individual-owner-only market (and maybe a partnership).


"Now if we could just find an engine manufacturer that could produce a modern, auto gas burning piston engine, we might have something"

Like Rotax? But a lot of people don't like Rotax simply because they do things differently. And Lycoming and Continental have both played with modern electronically-controlled aircraft engines but the sales never got off the ground because there was no market demand. This question has been around for at least as long as I've been in aviation (12 years), and it always seems to go back to there not being any market for it.

Posted by: Gary Baluha | May 14, 2018 12:27 PM    Report this comment

"The bright spot is that soaring red line that represents Cirrus."

Especially when you plot it wrong. GAMA says 74 Cirrus sold in 2018Q1, graph looks well above that, almost to 100. 2017Q1 also seem graphed too high, 57 were shipped, charts shows about 70.

Come on Paul, we expect a higher standard of care in presenting data than that.

Posted by: MIKE CIHOLAS | May 14, 2018 12:51 PM    Report this comment

I'm going with the "Pilot Shortage" for poor sales.

Younger people want easy to fly VTOL aircraft. The new pilot wave that's coming will expect more modern avionics and autopilots. My opinion: The five year outlook is Helicopters.

The Vietnam era pilots are all retiring at the same time forcing the airlines into creating the next wave of pilots. The military doesn't have the desire to mass produce tens of thousands of new pilots. The armed forces only need a couple thousand at any given time. Military training has been established they just need recruits.

Every kid that wants to fly has flown a cheap toy drone and knows that the technology for a VTOL Jetson mobile is possible. Those of us who understand the mechanics of it all know that Helicopters with toy drone stabilization are here today and very possible.

Small helicopter charter companies with big money backing are happening and the short distance point to point air travel in every city is near. The companies that do offer short flight seat fares are very busy and bring a lot of enthusiasm. For some reason it's just not news worthy, we would rather discuss the negative.

Statistics are great for twisting the facts and pushing funding one direction or the other. GAMA has a history of pushing markets. Why would anybody buy a $300,000 Textron 172 when you can buy a very nice modernized rebuilt Cessna 172 for $175,000.00?

Posted by: Klaus Marx | May 14, 2018 1:05 PM    Report this comment

" ... when you can buy a very nice modernized rebuilt Cessna 172 for $175,000.00?" Or less.

Posted by: Rafael Sierra | May 14, 2018 2:02 PM    Report this comment

The market for new and rebuilt 172's is not a positive thing. The market is screaming at us that it wants something NEW.

Anyone opening a new flight school who wants to really make any progress should proudly proclaim they refuse to put their students at undue risk by putting them in a 172, and back it up with data!

Posted by: Eric Warren | May 14, 2018 3:10 PM    Report this comment

I was looking at a 150 on the flight line recently that was offered for sale at $15,000. A friend said that someone would buy it, sink $15,000 into it and when he was done he'd have a $15,000 airplane. I couldn't help but think he was right.

Posted by: jay Manor | May 14, 2018 5:27 PM    Report this comment

"... put their students at undue risk by putting them in a 172," ... HUH!!
I hope you mean an 'old' beat up ratty 172 because the 172 has one of the best insurance risk ratings of any airplane. Around one in 10 GA airplanes ever built is a 172. Besides, Raf and I own one :-)

I agree with your first comment, however, Eric. If I were a student and investigating two flight schools side by side -- one with old beat up airplanes and another with new 172's -- I'd go with new. There's a flight school I know in NE FL whose airplanes I'm not sure I'd fly. Really.

Jay ... you're right. I'm in that exact spot right now. My 172 needs a paint job but after I spend $15K ... it won't be worth any more. But that's the wrong way to look at it. Think of what a new 172 would cost and then work backwards. THAT's the way to do it.

In the end ... it's really mostly about price. If manufacturers are going to try to sell us $350K+ airplanes ... it isn't going to work. It boils down to the chicken v. egg question. For me, I'd love to build an E-AB but I don't have enough time left aviating to spend it bucking rivets and working late in the shop. IF I were a younger man, I'd do it but ... I ain't so that's that. Even the quick build or factory assist programs SOUND good but anyone who's been around airplanes knows that the last 10% of build takes 90% of the time.

Oh how I wish I'da bought a Cirrus SR20RV back when for $160K !!

Posted by: Larry Stencel | May 14, 2018 6:49 PM    Report this comment

Jay,
That's true until it's not. They do die. Then you have parts, and a hull to dispose of.

Larry,
172's are great for all the people that think they are great. Flight schools love them. Insurers love them. Old pilots love them.

The people who aren't becoming pilots, and a bunch who are, are voting nay. The 172 has the best record of all the old designs for some good reasons, and one problematic one - it's the standard.

Even then, Diamond aircraft, and I suspect some other new designs, are much better in spite of the 172 being the standard.

As long as the 172 is continues to be the standard, how do you expect to get change?

We need change.

Posted by: Eric Warren | May 14, 2018 8:09 PM    Report this comment

Change? Maybe in disposable income/market inequality. Meantime the popular legacy 172s rule in flight training. Cessna/Textron will not profit from higher prices on their "trainers". They will close the the production instead. Vashon is correct. I hope they succeed..

Posted by: Rafael Sierra | May 15, 2018 1:40 AM    Report this comment

I'm sorry, but, I just don't buy the argument that you don't get the money out of an old airframe after investing in upgrades. If I spend $100,000.00 on avionics, paint, airframe and engine squawks on a $20,000.00 airframe, I fully intend on getting out all of the money invested less the depreciated benefits I have realized while owning and operating the aircraft. If Mr. airplane buyer doesn't want to pay that figure whatever it may be, Mr. airplane buyer can go out, buy an old $20,000.00 airframe and go through the same upgrade process I had gone through. Good luck and have fun.
Actually, I should tack on a fee for all of the aggravation and time spent on going through the upgrade process. Then again, if Mr. airplane seller wants to unload an airframe quickly, then Mr. airplane seller is going to take a hit. If Mr. airplane buyer doesn't like my taste in avionics and paint, I fully understand why he will depreciate the price taking into account what he will have to pay to get exactly what he wants. But, if you like what I have and you want it, you're going to pay for it one way or another. There is no free lunch.

Posted by: Tom Cooke | May 15, 2018 4:29 AM    Report this comment

You're right about the graph. I got a little too enthusiastic about extending the Cirrus line. Revised graph appears above.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | May 15, 2018 4:55 AM    Report this comment

" The market is screaming at us that it wants something NEW."

I keep hearing that but if it is true, why is Diamond not outselling Cessna by a significant margin?

Posted by: Richard Montague | May 15, 2018 7:15 AM    Report this comment

I wonder what happened in 2014 where Diamond doubled their sales for just that one year?

Posted by: Gary Baluha | May 15, 2018 7:24 AM    Report this comment

Maybe we pilots should wear red GAMA hats to show our support?

Posted by: Mark Fraser | May 15, 2018 8:57 AM    Report this comment

Wait! Where is Icon in all this?

Posted by: Rafael Sierra | May 15, 2018 9:04 AM    Report this comment

Diamond *could* have sold many more aircraft except for supply constraints:

1. Production of the previously-popular-in-North America Lycoming DA40 has been suspended for the past year because Diamond is still awaiting certification of the newer G1000 NXi flight deck for this model. (The DA40 Type Certificate was recently moved from Austria to Canada, so this problem should fix itself). In the meantime, the only DA40s being built are Austro diesel DA40 NGs.

2. Production of DA62s (including the molds for composite parts) was shifted from Diamond Austria to Diamond Canada last year, and production took a hit. Diamond Canada has been challenged to find enough production workers in London, Ontario for DA62 assembly, so DA62 production has been restarted in Austria to meet demand. That plane basically "sells itself" once somebody gets a demo flight.

Posted by: DAVE PASSMORE | May 15, 2018 9:14 AM    Report this comment

Mark, the red GAMA hat idea is genius...I was rolling on the floor!

Posted by: A Richie | May 15, 2018 9:31 AM    Report this comment

"Wait! Where is Icon in all this?"

Under water Raf, under water...

Posted by: Tom Cooke | May 15, 2018 9:37 AM    Report this comment

Rafael,
We need volume to lower the price. We need protection from predatory lawyers to lower the price. Both of those things come from having many more pilots. We get those by attracting people to aviation. We need new products to do that.

The thing about disparity is that there are many more people who can afford a plane today than before. They aren't taking lessons.

Richard,
Cessna is still the standard. It's not a normal market. It's an insanely over regulated market. The school owners choose the known quantity even when they are not using the Cessna pilot center resources. You can operate a DA20 more cheaply, but that's just the plane. You need an experienced mechanic on da20's. You need to sell people on why they should not be choosing a Cessna. It all takes time, and most school owners don't want to deal with it. Better to fight over the share of the small market than try to expand it. Only one in 20 school owners know anything about marketing or selling.

Posted by: Eric Warren | May 15, 2018 10:27 AM    Report this comment

Richard's post: "" The market is screaming at us that it wants something NEW."

I keep hearing that but if it is true, why is Diamond not outselling Cessna by a significant margin?"

Runway to runway aviation is not interesting to the younger people. They want to land and takeoff within walking distance of their destinations. Fixed-wing is dead.

The people I talk to about becoming pilots don't understand why the industry doesn't offer aircraft that park in the driveway and land in parking spaces. Video games and videos have raised the bar on expectations.

Youtube has viral video where a kid turned his bathtub into passenger carrying drones that goes to the corner market for a big gulp. Search "Flying Bathtub".

We're debating hundreds of thousands per unit and the flying bathtub cost just a couple thousand. The non-pilots don't understand the cost difference. They don't understand the FAA.

Posted by: Klaus Marx | May 15, 2018 12:28 PM    Report this comment

"The people I talk to about becoming pilots don't understand why the industry doesn't offer aircraft that park in the driveway and land in parking spaces. "

Apparently they also don't understand basic physics of heavier-than-air vehicles. A motor vehicle ("car") and aircraft have opposing requirements, and besides, given the likelihood of being in a fender-bender or worse, any accident would pretty much ground the vehicle from flying. And fixed-wing aircraft require runways to takeoff and land on anyway, so that leaves rotorcraft. But if you think people hate "those rich folks with play-thing aircraft" now, just wait until those people have helicopters or quadcopters (or X-copters, whatever it might take) flying all over.

But you are right in that runway-to-runway transportation isn't good enough, because you still need transportation at the other end. This is a solvable issue, but how much effort is involved varies greatly. Some FBOs have courtesy cars that you can use for short-term use, others require getting a rental car, and still others have public transportation options available. And of course there are taxi/uber options available. But there is no one-stop-shop to arrange this. An enterprising person could come up with a portal that allows the pilot to pick a destination airport and from that one location make arrangements for transportation from the airport to the final destination. Actually, come to think of it, maybe I should look in to that :-)

Posted by: Gary Baluha | May 15, 2018 1:45 PM    Report this comment

Gary,
You missed his point.

He's not talking about roadables, he's talking about volocopter type vehicles. The batteries aren't quite there yet, and the FAA cannot be moved because it's become a subsidy for the existing players no matter how much they may whine.

Posted by: Eric Warren | May 15, 2018 2:55 PM    Report this comment

I'm truly impressed with the depth of knowledge of all the responders on this topic.

Now I'm depressed.

Posted by: Phil DeRosier | May 16, 2018 1:47 AM    Report this comment

On May 11, the FAA issued an NPRM to use ASTM F44 STDs for Part 23 airplanes. 44 STDs will be direct as written by ASTM and 17 more will be modified by FAA. The comment period ends in July. Everyone should dive into this issue and comment.

I don't see how this is gonna help existing legacy airplanes and I'm highly miffed that the Primary Non Commercial airworthiness recommendation by the ARC is nowhere to be found. I plan on writing a scathing retort!

AOPA is reporting that this will help facilitate electric and VTOL aircraft. So, for instance, the Flight Design C4 was waiting for such changes but I question how that's going to help Us legacy owners.

Posted by: Larry Stencel | May 16, 2018 9:49 AM    Report this comment

I would think that the new technology would be driving down the prices a bit more.............

Posted by: Bryan Lightsey | May 19, 2018 11:40 AM    Report this comment

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