Australian Aircraft Activity


This annual survey covers all Australian registered aircraft used in the Commercial Air Transport (CAT) and General Aviation (GA) sectors of the Australian aviation industry.

The CAT sector is made up of scheduled commercial air transport and non-scheduled commercial air transport.

The GA sector is made up of all flying activity in Australian-registered aircraft other than commercial air transport. The major categories of flying are aerial work, own use business flying, instructional flying, sport and pleasure flying and other flying. In addition, the sport aviation segment of GA includes operations in ultralight aircraft, gliders, hang gliders and gyrocopters.

The basic measure of General Aviation is flying hours. All owners of VH registered aircraft are surveyed annually and asked to report hours flown and landings by each aircraft in various categories of operation. Response to this year's collection was 85.7 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 self-administrating associations once or twice a year. Like the rest of GA, flying hours are the prime measure of activity.

Key Indicators

Total hours flown in Australia by Australian owned and operated aircraft increased by 1.2 per cent in 2018 to 3.41 million hours.

Commercial Air Transport hours flown by VH-registered aircraft increased by 0.8 per cent to 1.84 million hours. Hours flown by scheduled commercial air transport decreased by 0.2 per cent to 1.42 million hours, while hours flown by non-scheduled commercial air transport increased by 4.3 per cent to 415 thousand hours.

General aviation hours flown by VH-registered aircraft increased by 2.1 per cent to 1.23 million hours. Instructional flying increased by 8.7 per cent to 390 thousand hours, and Sport and pleasure flying increased by 8.7 per cent to 235 thousand hours. These increases were partially offset by a decrease in Aerial Work (down 4.5 per cent to 439 thousand hours), and Own use business flying (down 2.0 per cent to 134 thousand hours).

Sport aviation (ultralights, gliders, hang gliders and gyrocopters) activity generally experience large swings in activity from year to year. In 2018, sport aviation activity increased 0.6 per cent to 348 thousand hours.

Hours Flown in Australian Aircraft Activity (000's)–years ended December

2017 2018
(thousand hours)
Commercial air transport Scheduled 1427.1 1423.9
  Non-scheduled 397.9 415.1
Total Commercial air transport   1825.0 1839.0
General Aviation (VH)* Aerial work 460.2 439.4
  Own Use Business 136.6 133.9
  Instructional flying 359.0 390.1
  Sport & pleasure flying 216.1 234.8
  Other flying 30.6 29.0
Total General Aviation (VH)*   1202.5 1227.2
Sport Aviation (non-VH)*   345.5 347.5
Total hours flown   3373.0 3413.7

*VH aircraft are registered with CASA
*non-VH aircraft are registered with self-administrating associations