Once a year the FAA conducts a survey to learn how much we flew, whether we did it IFR or VFR, on a flight plan or not, what equipment we have on our airplane, and a few other things. It doesn’t take long to complete, and it would be a big help to AOPA and others who advocate for improvements to our aviation infrastructure. The survey is conducted by an independent research firm— NOT the FAA themselves. The information is only provided to the FAA in summary form, no individual data tied to your N number is released.
I often sit in meetings with the FAA, National Weather Service, National Park Service and other groups, who ask, “Just how much flying does GA do?” While the airlines and some segments of the Part 135 world report data to the government directly, this survey is about the only way we have of quantifying how much general aviation flying goes on, and documents the type of uses we make of our airplanes.
In Alaska, the FAA is conducting a 100% sample, to get better information on our activity– because we have told them that “Alaska is different.” There is even a question asking specifically how many hours you flew in Alaska last year! Even if you completed the survey in previous years, please take the 15 minutes or so to go on line and fill it out again. This data is immensely valuable when it comes to arguing for keeping aviation infrastructure we still use, and knowing when it might be OK to let go of things we no longer need.
The survey questions are pretty straight forward, and the answers are in your log books. What was the total time on your airframe at the end of 2011? How many hours did you fly for personal, business, instructional or other types of uses? A few minutes going through your logbook and assigning flight hours to basic categories and you are ready to log on and fill out the survey. The website is: http://www.aviationsurvey.org/ Use your N number to log in. And if you hit a stopping point, it will save the answers and let you finish later. You have until November 30th to participate.
Unlike some of the tests you take in school, this is all multiple-choice and fill in the blank. No essay questions and no one to critique your spelling. Perhaps the longest section of the survey is the string of questions asking about the equipment you have on board. After clicking the “NO” button for a while when it comes to questions about TCAS, ADS-B, auto pilots and other goodies, this might give you an excuse to consider upgrading so you can answer at least one of these questions with a “YES” next year!