October 13, 2009
By Thomas A. Horne
And now for some good news: The Cincinnati-based consultancy Aviation Research Group/US (ARGUS) reports that business aircraft activity in September 2009 was at its highest level since a year ago. ARGUS tracks serial-number-specific IFR arrivals and departures in the contiguous United States, breaking them down to activity within the FAR Part 91, Part 135, and fractional categories.
The September 2009 rise in activity isn’t much—0.4 percent compared to September 2008—but it’s up 2.7 percent from August 2009. Total flight activity for the last 12 months (October 2008 to September 2009) as compared to the previous 12 months (October 2007 to September 2008) is down 20.28 percent.
Comparing September 2008 with September 2009, ARGUS says the biggest gains were among turboprops, with a rise of 18.8 percent in Part 91 applications, and 24.4 percent in the fractional market.
The biggest drop was among small-cabin jets engaged in fractional ownership operations, with a 28.4 percent decline. ARGUS defines small-cabin jets as very light jets and light jets with maximum gross takeoff weights less than 20,000 pounds. Large-cabin jets (large jets with MGTOWs more than 41,000 pounds) experienced declines of 12.3 percent in Part 91 use, 14.2 percent in Part 135 use, and 12 percent in fractional use.
Mirroring the difficulties facing all fractional ownership firms in the recession, fractional activity was in the basement for all aircraft groups save turboprops. In all, the fractional category was down 7.7 percent compared to September 2008.
AOPA Pilot Editor at Large Tom Horne has worked at AOPA since the early 1980s. He began flying in 1975 and has an airline transport pilot and flight instructor certificates. He’s flown everything from ultralights to Gulfstreams and ferried numerous piston airplanes across the Atlantic.
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