General aviation is the name or term given to all civil aviation aircraft operations with the exception of commercial air transport (CAT) or aerial work (AW). They are flight activities not involving commercial air transportation of passengers, cargo or mail for remuneration or hire, or an aerial work operation such as agriculture, construction, photography, surveying, observation and patrol, search and rescue, aerial advertisement, etc. It covers certain commercial and private flights that can be carried out under both visual flight (VFR) and instrument flight (IFR) rules, such as light aircraft, business and private jets or helicopters. General aviation thus represents the 'private transport' component of aviation.
The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) defines civil aviation aircraft operations in three categories: General Aviation (GA), Aerial Work (AW) and Commercial Air Transport (CAT). The
International Council of Aircraft Owner and Pilot Associations (IAOPA) includes the following definitions for General Aviation aircraft activities:
- Corporate Aviation: Company own-use flight operations
- Fractional Ownership Operations: aircraft operated by a specialized company on behalf of two or more co-owners
- Business Aviation (or Travel): self-flown for business purposes
- Personal/Private Travel: travel for personal reasons/personal transport
- Air Tourism: self-flown incoming/outgoing tourism
- Recreational Flying: powered/powerless leisure flying activities
- Air Sports: Aerobatics, Air Races, Competitions, Rallies etc.