General aviation refers strictly to private aviation that is not for hire. This excludes things like scheduled airliners and chartered flight operations, as they receive compensation for their services.
However, general aviation falls under the umbrella of civil aviation, which does included airliners and charter planes. Because they fly for private purposes, general aviators follow less strict Federal Aviation Regulations than their commercial counterparts. The Federal Aviation Administration implements stricter guidelines for commercial air travel and chartered flight operations in order to protect the safety of the general public.
Broad Range of General Aviation Applications
The term general aviation, which is sometimes abbreviated to just GA, covers a broad spectrum. It can include:
- Bush planes
- Private jets
- Corporate jets
Basically, as long as the company or individual operating the aircraft doesn’t receive compensation, it could be considered general aviation. Therefore, the size of the aircraft is irrelevant. However, the majority of GA pilots operate smaller, piston-engine aircraft for recreational purposes.
General aviation is an immensely popular activity in the United States, and around the world. There are more than 6,000 airports across North America available for GA use. The vast majority of those are intended solely for GA use. On the other hand, commercial airliner operations are limited to roughly 500 airports in the US.