We and our airplanes are just getting older.
For a lot of us there was surely that one moment when you caught a glimpse of yourself in the mirror one day. OMG! you may have said. How did this happen?
Day by day, we all get a little older, though we may be no better at accepting the realities. We all love to banter around those cute little sayings about getting older, my favorite being the old Bette Davis line, “Growing old is not for sissies.” The older I get, the more truth I find there.
And if you think your body is showing the wear, what about the poor Piper Cherokee which has lived its life at the hands of countless student pilots, slammed and jammed on to runways for decades?
At the turn of the millennium (that’s 15 years ago, thank you very much) the FAA noted that the average age of the nation’s 150,000 single-engine fleet was more than 30 years old. By 2020, the average age could approach 50 years. Five years from now. 50-year-old airplanes. Average. AVERAGE.
Take a ride in a DC-3 at the next airshow; that airplane made its maiden flight 80 years ago. Let me say that again: 80. (Just so you know, the average age of jet airliners is a prepubescent 11 years old.)
Will there be a giant resurgence in General Aviation where wads of pilots just run out and buy wads of shiny new airplanes so that the average age of the our fleet will come back down? With the price of a 2015 Archer starting at $345,000, maybe not so much. Just like all of us continue to get older, so will the GA fleet.
So what are we gonna do with all these aging airplanes? Well, fly them, I guess.
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