Study Shows Significant Drop In Business Aircraft Activity

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Statistics on business aircraft identified by arrival and departure information on all IFR flights for December 2007 and compared to December 2008 show a 22.8 percent drop, according to the Aviation Research Group/U.S. Inc., but there may be some surprises. The data includes both Alaska and Hawaii and segregated data between Part 91, Part 135 and fractional operations. The steepest decline in activity was seen by Part 135 operators, which in 2008 dropped by one third versus the same month in the prior year. The steepest decline came to Part 135 large-cabin jet aircraft (identified as those with a maximum takeoff weight of over 41,000 pounds), which saw a 44 percent decline in activity. On the opposite end of the scale, Part 91 business aircraft operators as a group curtailed their activity by only 15.3 percent and showed the largest diversity in change by aircraft size, according to ARG/US. Small cabin jets (MTOW under 20,000) flown under Part 91 and midsize-cabin jets suffered the least, falling just 6.3 percent, while turboprop business aircraft (both single- and multi-engine) took the largest hit for the Part 91 category, chiming in with a 23.2 percent drop in activity. Fractionals told a slightly different story.

The business use of fractional aircraft fell by about 32 percent with small-cabin jets bringing the largest impact on the overall figure -- their use fell by more than 44 percent within the fractional category. Just one step up in size, midsize-cabin jets used in fractional business operations fell by 24.3 percent.