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 73.6 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.

Aircraft registered to Recreational Aviation Australia (RA-Aus) have been included in the annual General Aviation Activity Survey since 2020. Responses were received for 50.8 per cent of aircraft registered to RA-Aus. Statistics for the rest of the sport aviation segment of GA are collected from self-administrating associations. 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 6.1 per cent in 2021 to 2.62 million hours.

Commercial Air Transport hours flown by VH-registered aircraft increased by 15.0 per cent to 1.11 million hours. Hours flown by scheduled commercial air transport increased by 19.0 per cent to 623,883 hours, while hours flown by non-scheduled commercial air transport increased by 10.1 per cent to 483,694 hours.

General aviation hours flown by VH-registered aircraft increased by 0.1 per cent to 1.15 million hours. There where increases in Aerial Work (up 10.2 per cent to 506,207 hours), Own use business flying (up 11.8 per cent to 123,897 hours), and Sport and pleasure flying (up 0.9 per cent to 174,520 hours). Instructional flying decreased by 20.8 per cent to 303,362 hours.

Sport aviation (ultralights, gliders, hang gliders and gyrocopters) activity generally experience large swings in activity from year to year. In 2021, sport aviation activity increased 1.6 per cent to 360,889 hours.

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

2020 2021
Commercial air transport Scheduled 524.2 623.9
  Non-scheduled 439.3 483.7
Total Commercial air transport   963.5 1 107.6
General Aviation (VH)* Aerial work 459.3 506.2
  Own Use Business 110.8 123.9
  Instructional flying 382.9 303.4
  Sport & pleasure flying 172.9 174.5
  Other flying 20.1 39.8
Total General Aviation (VH)*   1 146.0 1 147.8
Sport Aviation (non-VH)*   355.3 360.9
Total hours flown   2 109.6 2 109.6

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