The pilot population is declining. There were 827,000 active certificated pilots in 1980, but just 624,000 in 2009. The numbers of incoming student pilots are even more alarming with a decline from 200,000 to 73,000 in the same timeframe. Additionally, 70 to 80 percent of those student pilots will drop out prior to earning their certificates. This has critical implications for all segments of the aviation community.
With such a massive drop-out rate, something is seriously wrong with the current methodology. A new approach must begin by focusing on pilot completions and retention rather than recruitment and student starts.
This is an industry-wide effort that cannot be undertaken by AOPA alone. It requires the participation of all industry stakeholders, pilots and aviation enthusiasts. The AOPA Foundation is committed to carrying out this important initiative and is launching several critical programs including:
The programs outlined above will be instrumental in reversing the course of pilot decline and setting us on a new course for a stronger GA tomorrow and well into the future. The involvement of all industry stakeholders is a major key to turning the decline around, but most critical to preserving GA as we know it is the passionate involvement of pilots like you.