866-806-6156 (9 am - 5pm ET)
Executive Summary—NAFI

Written Testimony

In the national emergency that came from the events of September 11, 2001, the United States closed its National Airspace System (NAS), effectively shutting down the flight training industry. The economic impact of this has put the survival of the entire flight training industry is in serious doubt. This exacerbates the economic crisis flight training faced before September 11, the causes of which include an exponential increase in insurance costs and a shortage of flight instructors.

General aviation flight training is a critical component of America’s aviation infrastructure because it is where most pilots learn to fly. Anything that affects its educational capabilities causes short and long-term consequences to everyone who uses the National Airspace System: General Aviation, Commercial Aviation, the Air Carriers, and, to some extent, the military.

Closing the NAS interrupted the education of more than 10,000 college students pursuing a degree in professional pilot studies.

During the shutdown, the income of the nation’s approximately 2,400 general aviation flight schools was effectively zero. These aviation businesses still had to pay their bills and meet their payroll. If they couldn’t, they laid off their flight instructors and went out of business.

If flight training as an industry withers and dies because of neglect and lack of support—it will not make any more pilots. Without pilots in the pipeline, the airlines and all other commercial aviation will run dry of pilots in relatively short order.

More importantly, without flight instructors, there will be no general aviation pilots. Without them, aviation will have no future, because pilots who fly for recreation are the ones who inspire those who will write the future—our children—to become pilots by taking them for a ride on a sunny afternoon. Where will our economy be without themè

Without pilots aviation cannot grow, and if aviation cannot grow, neither can the U.S. economy. Without flight instructors—the teachers of flight—there will be no new pilots, and the existing pilots will soon be grounded because flight instructors give them their FAA-required flight reviews that ensure aviation safety.

Even before the events of September 11, 2001 the flight training industry was in crisis, and since September 11 that crisis has gotten worse. Just as the airline needs survival assistance, so, too, does the flight training industry. In conjunction with this, flight training needs to examine itself so it can better participate and

contribute to the important role aviation plays in the world.

The National Association of Flight Instructors is convening a Blue Ribbon Panel that will assess the flight training industry from top to bottom. Its members will represent all facets of aerial education, from aviation universities to the independent instructor. The Panel’s focus will be to derive recommendations to improve the flight training industry’s financial stability and productivity, as well as the flight instruction industry’s role in national security.