Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development

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 84 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 2.0 million in 2011, a decrease of 4.2 per cent compared with the previous year. Activity in the General Aviation sector fell in 2011, with a decrease in flying hours of 4.1 per cent to 1.8 million hours. Regional Airlines recorded a decrease of 5.0 per cent in flying hours, reversing the increase seen in the previous year. Only one flying categories showed an increase in activity—Business (up by 3.4 per cent).

Charter and Aerial Work flying made up the two largest activity categories in the General Aviation sector, representing 24.4 per cent and 20.1 per cent respectively of all General Aviation flying hours during 2011. A substantial drop was recorded in Training flying (11.3 per cent), resulting in Training hours falling to the third largest activity category (19.5%). Private and Business flying together represented 19.2 per cent of total General Aviation activity.

In 2011 decreases in flying hours in General Aviation were recorded in Training (11.3 per cent), Charter (4.4 per cent), Agriculture (3.3 per cent), Private (1.9 per cent), Test and Ferry (1.6 per cent), and Aerial Work (0.4 per cent).

The number of aircraft covered by the survey increased 1.3 per cent in 2011 to 12 725. The number of fixed wing, single engine aircraft increased by 1.2 per cent to 8 586, or 67.5 per cent of all registered aircraft in the General Aviation and Regional Airline sectors. Fixed wing, multi-engine aircraft reduced by 2 aircraft to 1 930 (15.2 per cent of the total). The number of helicopters increased by 3.1 per cent to 1 855 (14.6 per cent of the total), with the number of single engine helicopters increasing by 2.8 per cent to 1 655 and the number of multi-engine helicopters increasing by 5.3 per cent to 200.

In 2011, 1 290 amateur built aircraft accounted for 10.1 per cent of all VH registered aircraft in the survey. This represents a 6.3 per cent increase over the number of VH registered, amateur built aircraft in 2010 (1 214 aircraft).

The Australian General Aviation and Regional Airline fleet contains many older aircraft, with the average age being 27.0 years, which is the same as in 2010. A total of 629.6 thousand hours (or 31.7 per cent of all flying) was performed in aircraft under 11 years old, 419.4 thousand hours (21.1 per cent) in aircraft aged between 11 and 20 years old, 307.1 thousand hours (15.4 per cent) in aircraft between 21 and 30 years old, and 632 thousand hours (31.8 per cent) in aircraft over 30 years old.

The average age of the Regional Airline fleet increased from 17.6 to 17.9 years between 2010 and 2011. The majority of Regional Airline flying hours are conducted by turboprop aircraft (89.3 per cent), with piston engine aircraft accounting for 5.4 per cent, and jet aircraft for 5.3 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)
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
2011 237.4 144.8 386.8 17.9 398.8 100.4 485.2 1771.4 216.7 1988.1

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