The number of hours flown by general aviation (GA) operators during 2008 increased, while regional airlines saw a significant fall, according to the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics (BITRE)’s 2008 General Aviation Activity Survey.
According to the report, GA operators flew 1.9 million hours, which was an increase of 1.4 per cent compared to 2007, driven primarily by increases in training, private flying and aerial work. Agriculture provided the largest increase in activity, with a rise of 25.9 per cent reflecting more favourable growing conditions. Decreases in GA activity were felt in test and ferry, charter and business aviation.
By contrast to the small growth in GA, hours flown by regional airline operators were down by 11.3, marking the biggest decrease since 2002. The survey also noted that the average age of aircraft used on regional airline services decreased to 17.7 years compared to 19.3 in 2007, which is attributed to an increase in the number of newer jets operating on some regional services. This also reflected a greater trend for regional services to be operated by mainline carriers rather than regional affiliates.
The survey also noted that sport aviation has been growing, with figures provided to BITRE by the Recreational Aviation Association of Australia (RA-Aus) showing a 13 per cent increase in ultralight flying hours. The analysis also notes that the total number of ultralight flying hours has doubled since 2001. In addition, the number of gliders registered with the Gliding Federation of Australia increased by 5.2 per cent, although gliding hours decreased by 50.5 per cent.