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Economic Impact Survey: Methodology

This report is a survey of existing information and research on the economic impact of the general aviation sector of our economy, highlighting the most recent and comprehensive work. The survey aggregates findings from national studies, state transportation and/or aviation department reports, and publicly available economic data. The purpose is to provide the most comprehensive overview of the impact and benefit of general aviation to our national economy, and to the individual states.

Sources: A wide variety of resources were tapped, including federal government statistics through the Federal Aviation Administration data services, standard Internet search engines such as LexisNexis and industry websites such as AirNav.com, the National Business Aviation Association and Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, as well as federal and state Departments of Transportation. Many states have conducted economic impact studies, some more recently than others. For those states without an available report, various resources were used to compile the information. These were reviewed for appropriate statistics to provide a snapshot of the economic benefit of general aviation.

It is important to note that state reports are of varying quality and scope. Many are dated, and all use widely variant methodologies. For purposes of national aggregation, or for side-by side comparison, they do not render “apples to apples” information.

The Merge Global study, conducted in 2005 was found to be the most comprehensive source for national aggregate information. Their methodology also provided the best categorization of the types of economic impact. They define these impacts as:

    1. Direct contribution – U.S. economic output created by the manufacturer, operation, or maintenance of GA aircraft. Direct contribution measures include the value of new GA aircraft sales, pilot training, fuel purchases, airport charges (landing and parking), spare parts, etc.
    2. Indirect contribution – U.S. economic output created by the purchase of goods and services by firms directly involved in the manufacture, operation, or maintenance of GA aircraft. Firms that benefit from GA’s direct contribution (including aircraft and engine manufacturers, maintenance providers, pilot training schools, etc.) buy goods and services from other firms. For example, aircraft manufacturers must buy aluminum, plastic, glass, and other materials to make GA aircraft.
    3. Induced contribution – U.S. economic output created by the expenditures of wage-earners, including professional pilots, employed by the firms that generate revenue, directly or indirectly, from GA. The portion of these wages which is traceable to GA is spent by employees on various goods and services, leading to more economic output, employment, and earnings that are said to be “induced” by GA.

Through the interview process with state transportation officials, local elected officials and business leaders, the benefits of general aviation were universally recognized and acknowledged to be vitally important to their communities for economic growth and job creation. Further, there was a general recognition of the value of general aviation to medical transportation, emergency relief and charitable work.

NOTE: Survey and state economic study data were assembled and compiled by Hildebrand Tewes Consulting.

State-by-State Economic Impact

Learn about the impact of general aviation on local economies and communities, and how it drives over 1.2 million jobs and billions in economic activity.

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