Tag Archives: market

Want a stronger aircraft market? Eliminate the third class medical!


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Aviation organizations have been trying for years to coax the FAA into reducing, or eliminating the 3rd class medical. There's been some success, sport pilot for example.

But generally we're no closer to this goal than before. There's talk every now and again about the FAA reconsidering, there was a recent petition effort by AOPA and EAA but it always seems that the FAA pretty much ignores all the data, expert testimony and public comments.

I'd venture to guess that the vast majority of pilots would support eliminating the third class medical. There's the time and expense of the exam but worse the pain, suffering and expense you have to go through for any number of medical conditions that you report. High blood pressure, extra testing, and maybe your AME will sign-off. Visited the doctor in the last three years, you are supposed to keep records of every visit. Had preventative treatment for heart disese? Get ready to pay thousands of dollars for tests every year so you can keep flying.

The risk that you will die in the cockpit? No higher than any other pilot, truck driver or old guy driving a 6000 pound RV. The risk to the non-flying public if you do happen to die in the cockpit, again the same as a guy driving an RV. Don't believe me? Check out all the data published by AOPA and others.

AOPA and EAA have a rule making request out to the FAA about self-certification. Consider proving a public comment there too. I'm less than hopeful that the FAA will actually change based on this rule making request, I think it will take an act of Congress, but who knows. http://www.aopa.org/advocacy/medical-certification-petition.html 

Anyway, that's not what this post is about. One factor continually depressing aircraft prices over the last decade is the continually dwindeling number of pilots in the US. Of course, there are a lot of reasons for this, the expense of flight and flight training being top of the list but there are a large group of pilots out there that have to sell because they can't afford to keep a medical anymore.

Getting rid of the useless, from a safety perspective, third class medical goes directly to the cost of flying and the number of pilots that are out there. More people, older people who can afford it, might be able to take up flight without a months long fight with the FAA over their medical. These people might even buy airplanes.

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Single Engine Piston Market Looks Stable into 2012

Amid continued economic pressure and anemic numbers of student pilots the single engine piston market looks to remain stable into 2012.

After falling for almost 9 years, prices for single engine piston aircraft bottomed out starting in 2009, according to data from Aircraft Bluebook, and have slowly been climbing since, now having recovered about 2.5%. Transactions for singles are increasing too, up 25% in 2011.

Continued growth of the market however, will likely be dependent on continued US GDP growth, general economic recovery (i.e. jobs) and fuel prices remaining in check. This is supported by data and analysis from Jetnet. General Aviation will also need to continue to work on increasing the student pilot population that was looking stronger in 2010 but again took a dip in 2011.

With any luck, increased transactions and continued price stability will get more buyers into the market. Buyers who have been waiting for rock bottom bargains may start to get off the fence before prices begin to recover significantly. If the US does see continued economic recovery in 2012 more pilots may be in a position to afford an aircraft and start to search. Other regulatory factors, such as user fees, may have a negative impact, though the likelihood of such fees is low. Additionally it will be interesting to see 2012 registration data now that the FAA has implemented mandatory  re-registration. An unknown number of aircraft may be removed from the market.

Although new aircraft shipments are down for 2011 the used aircraft market will not see significant price increases as demand remains flat and supply is steady. The overall market factors have not changed in this regard since 2000.

What this means for most sellers is simple: We are still in a buyers market but it is at least stable. Sellers have to be smart about pricing their aircraft and good at marketing. As always if you have a well priced aircraft that looks great there will likely be a buyer for your airplane.

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