General aviation refers to every civil aviation activity, excluding scheduled and non-scheduled air services and air transport activity for hire or for pay. General aviation flights may refer to powered parachutes, gliders and even corporate jet flights. Basically, this includes almost all commercial and non-commercial flights and most of the world’s airports serve general aviation exclusively or together with other flight operations. It also includes flight training, private flying, gliding, skydiving, air ambulance, aerial firefighting, police aviation, bush flying, air charter and many more. There are also some new general aviation operations and flight machines that have appeared recently, such as the homebuilt aircraft, very light jets and light-sport aircrafts.
The majority of the types of aircrafts that are part of general aviation are trainers, business jets, racers, aerobatic types, warbirds, gliders, medical transports and firefighters. The majority of all aircraft types today are for general aviation purposes, excepting aircrafts pertaining to federal or army aviation and others. Unsurprisingly, North America is the country where general aviation is most popular thanks to all 6,300 airports destined to public use. These airports are used by general aviation pilots and they are about 1,000 in Canada and some 5,200 in the United States. However there is some difference between general aviation airports, because some of them are destined only for scheduled flights within the United States.
These are public access flights offered by different flight companies, of American origin or not, which offer transport within or out of the United States, to all of the corners of the world. Something similar is happening in almost every country in the world, but none of them match America’s numbers. What is definitely true of all countries that have general aviation is that they all have authorities that oversee operations and any other activity related to this. Most of the countries also adhere to an international standardized code established by the International Civil Aviation Organization, which is, of course, vital for the avoidance of misunderstandings, flight accidents and other incidents.
For example, in the United States, general aviation flights are overseen by the Federal Aviation Administration; the United Kingdom has its flights overseen by the Civil Aviation Authority, whereas Germany has the Luftfahrt-Bundesamt. Most statistics show that general aviation flights can count among the safest type of transport known to man, having estimates of a maximum of one or two fatal accidents a year, which is a whole lot more than automobiles, trains, motorcycles and others.