AOPA Pilot readers will be getting a special treat in the mail this month. The June issue of the magazine features a 60-page section on the state of general aviation.
Drawing on decades' worth of experience in aviation journalism, AOPA Pilot editors offer in-depth analysis not only of where the GA industry is today, but where it is headed tomorrow. It looks at all facets of general aviation, including conversations with the government leaders who have control over how and where GA pilots can operate.
"With a circulation of more than 370,000, AOPA Pilot is the world's most widely circulated aviation magazine," said Thomas B. Haines, the magazine's editor-in-chief and AOPA's senior vice president of publications. "AOPA's sole focus is on general aviation. That and our years of experience covering GA make AOPA Pilot uniquely qualified to examine the state of the industry."
Covering some 60 pages of the June issue, the report looks at everything from the piston-engine market to helicopters to business jets. It also examines the rapid advance in avionics for general aviation, giving GA pilots essentially the same cockpit technology that airline pilots have. And AOPA Pilot talked to key government figures, including FAA Administrator Marion Blakey and Rep. John Mica, the powerful chairman of the House aviation subcommittee.
Piston-engine aircraft - the "small planes" that most people think of when they talk about general aviation - make up the overwhelming majority of the U.S. GA fleet, so that's where AOPA Pilot's examination of the industry begins. Editor-at-Large Thomas A. Horne analyzes the outlook for mainstream manufacturers, while Senior Editor Alton K. Marsh looks at utility-type aircraft including helicopters and "taildraggers," which are popular, for instance, with bush pilots.
Other features in the piston section highlight some of the new companies entering the market, kit-built ("experimental") aircraft, the new light sport aircraft category, and the many modifications available to keep GA aircraft up-to-date.
While new aircraft designs are beginning to impact the industry, the real revolution is inside, where rapid advances in avionics are giving GA pilots many of the same capabilities as large airliners. The June issue of AOPA Pilot examines the emergence of so-called "glass cockpits," which replace traditional instruments with computer-generated displays on large multifunction monitors. It also examines advances in navigation, traffic and terrain avoidance, and datalinked weather information available in the GA cockpit. For pilots who rent aircraft, AOPA Pilot also examines advances in portable devices - so-called electronic flight bags.
But general aviation is more than just "small planes," so AOPA Pilot also examines business aviation, from turboprops to business jets. In addition, Jack Olcott, former president of the National Business Aviation Association and regular AOPA Pilot contributor, offers analysis of the new very light jets (VLJs) now in development. Many in the industry see a whole new air taxi market emerging as the VLJs become available.
"We believe this special report will help readers better understand the significant issues facing general aviation and also see how the industry may be poised for growth and expansion," said Haines. "As FAA Administrator Blakey notes in our exclusive interview, GA is at an exciting point, ready to leverage new technology and an improving safety record to offer alternatives to a public hungry for transportation alternatives."
The special cover is a photo mosaic made up of more than 2,000 unique general aviation images from AOPA Pilot's vast photo archives. A note in the issue's table of contents challenges readers to find one particular image and suggests where to find a hint on AOPA Online.
The June issue will be mailed to AOPA members starting May 16.
May 13, 2005