Securing the Future of General Aviation
through Pilot Training Reform

A Symposium of GA Stakeholder Communities
Chaired by the Society of Aviation and Flight Educators, Inc.

General Aviation is facing many difficult challenges manifesting as decreased student starts, increased student attrition, a flat lined fatal accident rate, and stagnated growth. Our industry employs around 1.3 million people and annually contributes $150 billion to the U.S. economy.[1] Yet as each general aviation industry stakeholder continues to grapple with serious issues within its respective sector, projections through 2025 regarding overall flight activity and aircraft sales are discouraging.[2]

A key part of the solution to reversing these interrelated trends lies with our corps of aviation educators and the national pilot training system they must deliver. One of the cornerstones to the future success and prosperity of all general aviation stakeholders must consist of highly qualified, confident, and professional instructors delivering an improved flight training product. For these reasons, the Society of Aviation and Flight Educators (SAFE) proposes a collaborative effort among OEMs, courseware providers, organizations/trade associations, university aviation programs and FBOs, insurance providers, and regulatory agencies to reform our national flight training system. SAFE further proposes that this be an integrated process:

  • Driven from the flight line upward;
  • Based on current industry programs; and,
  • Guided by a strategic 3-to-5 year plan jointly developed by all stakeholders, including FAA.

Aviation educators perform the most vital and influential duties in aviation: they are the gateway for those entering aviation, be it for pleasure, business, commercial, airline, or even military flying. Ground and flight instructors are responsible for advancing pilots through a regulated system of certificates and ratings, transitioning pilots to different aircraft and technologies, and ensuring that pilots satisfy FAA, insurance, and flight school or company recurrency requirements. Though the reasons for increased attrition among students and other pilots are many, instructors often represent the first and last lines of defense to motivate pilots to continue in aviation. Instructors directly influence our safety, security, and environmental mindsets as well—influence that has significant and widespread ramifications both inside and outside general aviation.

A new pilot training paradigm is vital to securing a more robust future for general aviation. Consequently, SAFE will chair a landmark gathering of major general aviation stakeholders to discuss lack of growth, decreased student start, increased student attrition, and flat accident rate trends vis-à-vis our current flight training system. The Pilot Training Reform Symposium will be held in Atlanta, GA on May 4-5, 2011.

[1] “General Aviation’s Contribution to the U.S. Economy”, GAMA, May 2006, p 2, available at

[2] 2009 GAMA Statistical Databook & Industry Outlook, pp 56 & 59, available at