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The single most common class of aircraft is the fixed-wing light aircraft associated with traditional GA, but the main area of growth over the last 20 years has been in the use of more affordable aircraft, such as microlights, amateur built aeroplanes, and smaller helicopters.
There are 28,000 Private Pilot Licence holders, and 10,000 certified glider pilots.
Other commercial GA activities are aerial work, such as surveying and air ambulances, and flight training, which plays an important role in the supply of pilots to the commercial air transport (CAT) industry.
Private flying is conducted for personal transport and recreation.
The UK planning system has no remit to consider the national significance of GA public transport operations, and generally does not favour the development of smaller aerodromes catering to the GA market.
The Ministry of Civil Aviation was created to regulate all civil aviation in the UK, and this task remained the responsibility of government departments until the establishment of the independent CAA in 1972.
For the purposes of a strategic review of GA in the UK, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) defined the scope of GA as "a civil aircraft operation other than a commercial air transport flight operating to a schedule", and considered it necessary to depart from the ICAO definition and include aerial work and minor CAT operations.