This annual survey covers all Australian registered aircraft used in the General Aviation (GA) and Regional Airline sectors of the Australian aviation industry.
The GA sector is made up of all non-scheduled flying activity in Australian-registered aircraft, other than that performed by the major domestic and international airlines. The major categories of flying are private, business, training, aerial agriculture, charter and aerial work. In addition, the sport aviation segment of GA includes operations in ultralight aircraft, gliders, hang gliders and autogyros.
The basic measure of General Aviation is flying hours. All owners of VH registered aircraft (with the exception of the Australian domestic and international airlines) are surveyed annually and asked to report hours flown by each aircraft in various categories of operation, as well as total landings per aircraft. Response to this year's collection was 75 per cent.
The survey results are merged with details from the civil aircraft register, which gives access to other information such as aircraft type, engine and fuel type, country and year of manufacture, etc.
Statistics of the sport aviation segment of GA are collected from the controlling body of each sport once or twice a year. Like the rest of GA, flying hours are the prime measure of activity.
Total hours flown by Australian VH registered aircraft in the General Aviation and Regional Airline sectors were 1.9 million in 2012, a decrease of 4.0 per cent compared with the previous year. Activity in the General Aviation sector fell in 2012, with a decrease in flying hours of 3.8 per cent to 1.7 million hours. Regional Airlines recorded a decrease of 5.7 per cent in flying hours. Only two flying categories showed an increase in activity—Test and Ferry (up by 15.9 per cent) and Charter (up by 3.4 per cent).
Charter and Aerial Work flying made up the two largest activity categories in the General Aviation sector, representing 29.4 per cent and 21.7 per cent respectively of all General Aviation flying hours during 2012. Training hours was the third largest activity category (21.2%). Private and Business flying together represented 21.3 per cent of total General Aviation activity.
In 2012 decreases in flying hours in General Aviation were recorded in Agriculture (11.3 per cent), Business (9.9 per cent), Aerial Work (7.4 per cent), Training (6.7 per cent), and Private flying (2.0 per cent).
The number of aircraft covered by the survey decreased 2.3 per cent in 2012 to 12 430. The number of fixed wing, single engine aircraft decreased by 1.7 per cent to 8 443, or 67.9 per cent of all registered aircraft in the General Aviation and Regional Airline sectors. Fixed wing, multi-engine aircraft decreased by 6.0 per cent to 1 815 (14.6 per cent of the total). The number of helicopters decreased by 2.0 per cent to 1 817 (14.6 per cent of the total), with the number of single engine helicopters decreasing by 2.1 per cent to 1 620 and the number of multi-engine helicopters decreasing by 1.5 per cent to 197.
In 2012, 1 302 amateur built aircraft accounted for 10.5 per cent of all VH registered aircraft in the survey. This represents a 0.9 per cent increase over the number of VH registered, amateur built aircraft in 2011 (1 290 aircraft).
The Australian General Aviation and Regional Airline fleet contains many older aircraft, with the average age being 27.7 years, which is an increase compared to 2011 (27.0 years). A total of 601.9 thousand hours (or 31.5 per cent of all flying) was performed in aircraft under 11 years old, 380.3 thousand hours (19.9 per cent) in aircraft aged between 11 and 20 years old, 292.7 thousand hours (15.3 per cent) in aircraft between 21 and 30 years old, and 634.3 thousand hours (33.2 per cent) in aircraft over 30 years old.
The average age of the Regional Airline fleet decreased from 17.9 to 17.4 years between 2011 and 2012. The majority of Regional Airline flying hours are conducted by turboprop aircraft (91.6 per cent), with piston engine aircraft accounting for 2.8 per cent, and jet aircraft for 5.5 per cent.
a Training hours were under-reported in 2004; data unreliable for most purposes