While the airlines report lots of details about their operations directly to the government, the overall volume of general aviation activity is a lot harder to quantify. Collectively, how many hours a year do we fly? What kind of avionics do we have in our airplanes? The type of aviation we individually practice and enjoy is highly variable, which makes it difficult to summarize across a given state or for that matter, the nation.
One of the principal sources of information that both the government and aviation advocacy groups rely on is the FAA GA and Part 135 Activity Survey. In the next few weeks, aircraft owners should receive a copy of the survey in the mail. A couple of points to consider:
- While it says FAA 2012 GA Survey, it is actually conducted by a private firm, Tetra Tech, who summarizes the data so that no information tied to your N number is forwarded to the FAA.
- The survey is going to 100% of Alaskan aircraft owners, so if you DON’T get one in the mail, check your aircraft registration to make sure it is up to date!
- You can take the survey online, www.aviationsurvey.org using your N-number as a log-on password.
The results of the survey help us understand the accident rate in Alaska (we know how many accidents, but this allows the FAA to compute the number per thousand hours of operations). Data from the survey also help us understand the impact of government policies. Without this information, we are often left to speculate. Good solid numbers often allow us to make a much more solid case.
To complete the survey, dig out your pilot and aircraft log books. Questions include how many hours you flew in 2012, how many landings were made, what percent of your flight hours were in Alaska? They also want you to estimate the types of use: recreational, business travel, instructional, proficiency, for example. I would look at the questions first, and then go through your logbook to extract the information needed.
The survey also asks what kind of fuel you burn and how much per hour. This information helps quantify our reliance on 100LL, if that is what you burn. Perhaps the section that is easiest to answer, but the most depressing for me personally, is the last section where I get to NOT fill in the boxes for all the neat equipment I haven’t installed in my airplane (yet, I hope). It shouldn’t take more than about 15 minutes to fill out this survey, so please dig it out of your mail or go on-line and take the few minutes to quantify your use of aviation.
Those of us attempting to advocate on your behalf really need this information to make the best case possible!