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The Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics

General Aviation

Summary

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 88 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.

Key Indicators

Total hours flown by Australian VH registered aircraft in the General Aviation and Regional Airline sectors were 2.1 million in 2010, an increase of 3.2 per cent compared with the previous year. Activity in the General Aviation sector rose in 2010, with an increase in flying hours of 2.2 per cent to 1.8 million hours, consistent with recovery from the adverse effects of the global economic downturn, lifting of drought conditions and additional agricultural operations requiring aircraft due to flooding late in the year. Regional Airlines recorded an increase of 11.8 per cent in flying hours, reversing a trend evident in recent years. Only two flying categories showed a decrease in activity — Training (down by 12.2 per cent) and Business (down by 5.7 per cent).

Charter and Training flying continued to make up the two largest activity categories in the General Aviation sector, representing 27.5 per cent and 23.6 per cent respectively of all General Aviation flying hours during 2010. A substantial drop in Training flying (11.2 per cent) and increase in Charter flying (8.0 per cent) resulted in Charter hours returning to a position considerably higher than Training hours. Private and Business flying together represented 20.7 per cent of total General Aviation activity.

In 2010 increases in flying hours in General Aviation were recorded in Agriculture (41.7 per cent), Test and Ferry (11.0 per cent), Aerial Work (10.3 per cent), Charter (8.0 per cent) and Private flying (1.0 per cent).

The number of aircraft covered by the survey increased 2.7 per cent in 2010 to 12 564. The number of fixed wing, single engine aircraft increased by 2.2 per cent to 8 486, or 67.5 per cent of all registered aircraft in the General Aviation and Regional Airline sectors. Fixed wing, multi-engine aircraft increased by 2.5 per cent to 1 932 (15.4 per cent of the total). The number of helicopters increased by 5.7 per cent to 1 800 (14.3 per cent of the total), with the number of single engine helicopters increasing by 5.2 per cent to 1 610 and the number of multi-engine helicopters increasing by 9.8 per cent to 190.

In 2010, 1 214 amateur built aircraft accounted for 9.7 per cent of all VH registered aircraft in the survey. This represents a 3.7 per cent increase over the number of VH registered, amateur built aircraft in 2009 (1 171 aircraft).

The Australian General Aviation and Regional Airline fleet contains many older aircraft, with the average age being 27.0 years, which is a marginal rise (0.1 years) from 2009. A total of 616.7 thousand hours (or 29.7 per cent of all flying) was performed in aircraft under 11 years old, 461.0 thousand hours (22.2 per cent) in aircraft aged between 11 and 20 years old, 360.7 thousand hours (17.4 per cent) in aircraft between 21 and 30 years old, and 637.6 thousand hours (30.7 per cent) in aircraft over 30 years old.

The average age of the Regional Airline fleet increased from 16.8 to 17.6 years between 2009 and 2010. Although the number of piston engine aircraft performing Regional Airline operations increased from 28 in 2009 to 31 in 2010 the hours flown by these aircraft in Regional Airline operations continues to decrease. The majority of Regional Airline flying hours are conducted by turboprop aircraft (91.2 per cent), with jet aircraft accounting for 5.3 per cent, and piston engine aircraft for 3.5 per cent.

Hours Flown in General Aviation (000’s) – years ended December
Year General Aviation Regional Airline Total
  Private Business Training   Test &
Ferry
Aerial
Work
Agriculture Charter Sub total
  (thousand hours)
2000 248.5 136.3 413.6   27.9 296.9 115.0 476.7 1714.8 335.7 2050.6
2001 261.7 144.9 406.2   23.2 294.2 106.7 466.0 1702.9 298.0 2000.9
2002 270.2 142.2 410.8   20.9 327.1 70.8 445.7 1687.7 250.1 1937.8
2003 239.7 143.4 420.3   21.2 322.5 69.7 429.2 1645.9 234.7 1880.6
2004 247.2 143.0 352.2 a 22.3 312.4 86.5 481.4 1645.0 251.4 1896.3
2005 239.2 149.1 415.8   22.3 318.8 95.0 482.6 1722.8 254.7 1977.5
2006 227.2 144.1 424.0   21.7 337.9 61.7 478.4 1695.0 241.5 1936.4
2007 222.7 153.4 455.4   25.7 368.0 62.1 544.5 1831.8 241.9 2073.8
2008 228.4 151.7 485.6   21.8 373.4 78.2 518.6 1857.7 214.7 2072.4
2009 239.5 148.5 497.1   16.4 363.1 73.3 469.7 1807.5 204.1 2011.5
2010 241.9 140.0 436.3   18.2 400.3 103.8 507.3 1847.7 228.1 2075.9

a Training hours were under-reported in 2004; data unreliable for most purposes