General aviation

General aviation aircraft at Cheb Airport

General aviation (GA) is all civil aviation operations other than scheduled air services and non-scheduled air transport operations for remuneration or hire.[1] General aviation flights range from gliders and powered parachutes to rotorcraft and corporate business jets. The majority of the world's air traffic falls into this category, and most of the world's airports serve general aviation exclusively.[2]

General aviation covers a large range of activities, both commercial and non-commercial, including flying clubs, flight training, agricultural aviation, light aircraft manufacturing, and aircraft maintenance. It includes recreational flying for sport or pleasure, as well as aircraft homebuilding[3] and aviation for means of philanthropy.[4][5]


The GA Cessna 172 is the most produced aircraft in history[6]
The Cirrus SR22, a popular modern GA aircraft
General aviation aircraft at Helsinki-Malmi Airport, Finland
The General Aviation Terminal at Raleigh-Durham International Airport


In 2003 the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) was established as the central EU regulator, taking over responsibility for legislating airworthiness and environmental regulation from the national authorities.[7]

United Kingdom

Of the 21,000 civil aircraft registered in the UK,[8] 96 percent are engaged in GA operations, and annually the GA fleet accounts for between 1.25 and 1.35 million hours flown. There are 28,000 Private Pilot Licence holders, and 10,000 certified glider pilots. Some of the 19,000 pilots who hold professional licences are also engaged in GA activities. GA operates from more than 1,800 airports and landing sites or aerodromes, ranging in size from large regional airports to farm strips.

GA is regulated by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), although regulatory powers are being increasingly transferred to the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA). The main focus is on standards of airworthiness and pilot licensing, and the objective is to promote high standards of safety.

In North America

General aviation is particularly popular in North America, with over 6,300 airports available for public use by pilots of general aviation aircraft (around 5,200 airports in the U.S., and over 1,000 in Canada[9]). In comparison, scheduled flights operate from around 560 airports in the U.S.[10] According to the U.S. Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, general aviation provides more than one percent of the United States' GDP, accounting for 1.3 million jobs in professional services and manufacturing.[11]