My first posting at the Forbes Magazine, Wheels-Up Blog: http://blogs.forbes.com/wheelsup/2010/06/14/business-aviation-by-the-numbers/
Since I was approached to participate in this new informational site at Forbes, I was immediately struck with how should I lead-off with a first posting, just like one always attempts to lead-off on the right foot after leaning against a wall. After some pondering I felt it suitable to start at the beginning, i.e. where the Business Aviation Industry is right this moment in time today. So here goes…
Worldwide, there are 31,108 Turbine-Powered, Fixed-Wing Business Aircraft in existence and operation today (19,276 domestic U.S.A, and 11,832 abroad.) When I quote this number, it applies specifically to only ‘purpose-built business aircraft’ that are powered by at least one turbine engine. With the first of them being the Gulfstream G-159 “Gee One-Business-liner” which first rolled out of its production hanger on Long Island back in 1959. Since then, 3,768 subsequent aircraft makes and models have since been written-off, scrapped and taken out of service due to normal attrition. If I add in Helicopters and also the smaller Piston-powered aircraft that are also used for business, then this number increases by 25%, effectively bringing the total business aviation fleet to have ever existed to a number below 50,000 craft.
This may seem to be a high number, but it pales in comparison to the total number of aircraft that are on the Civilian Register maintained by the Federal Aviation Administration, here in the United States: 374,311 Aircraft. We have to back out the 11,832 number of foreign business aircraft out of this civilian register ‘number’, we arrive at 362,479 civilian non-business aircraft (airliners, crop sprayers, aerial survey, medi-vac, pipeline and power-line inspection, banner towing, cloud seeding, freight, research, sport, and pleasure aircraft.) Conclusion: the Business Aviation Fleet in this country is outnumbered 18 to 1 by all other aircraft here, thus making the Business Aviation Industry a five-and-a-third percent (5.32%) segment of civil aviation in this great country (this is certainly nowhere near the number that the Airlines had been bandying around in their advertisements a year ago when they were trying to influence the President to impose User Fees on us, as we are the problem…Not.)
Lastly we can use the accurate number that we have for Worldwide Business Aircraft (derived from Amstat Corporation; I am a subscriber) to see that almost 49% of the World’s Business Fleet is actively owned and operated from here in the United States (A non-U.S. citizen can’t own a U.S. Registered Aircraft, unless it is through the loophole of a Trust Agreement.) Let’s transpose this percentage and apply it to our domestic fleet number: 374,311. This number is most likely a constant in mathematical terms, and therefore we can say that it is the equivalent, or equal to 49% of the World’s Fleet of Civilian Aircraft. Ultimately we can deduce that there are approximately 750,000 Civilian Aircraft operating around the World. This is a number that is never quoted anywhere.
Please don’t ask me about Military Aircraft because I have no idea.