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How many aircraft?


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Was wondering just how many aircraft there are in the world.  No easy answer.

Ascend estimates approximately 24000 functional commercial aircraft, passenger and cargo, with another 2500 in storage.

Airliners.net estimates a total of 39000 commercial and military aircraft;  and that over the years 150000 aircraft have been manufactured.

These figures do not include GA aircraft nor display aircraft, museums, etc.

FlightRadar24 states at any given time there are between 13000 and 16000 aircraft in the air worldwide, but do not state if this is just commercial or includes GA and military.

Skybrary claims "approximately 220,000 civil aircraft registered in the U.S.", but no mention if this is commercial and/or GA.

Data for GA aircraft is all over the place.  FAA registrations fluctuate around 140000 aircraft, not including kit planes, ultralights, etc.  Over the years Cessna produced 44000 C172s alone. (US manufactured GA deliveries totaled 14,398 single engine piston aircraft in 1978 but only 986 in 2014.)   Pricewaterhouse lists 211743 GA aircraft in the US, this includes single engine, multi-engine, jets, turbo, helicopters, experimental, and "other" (with single engine piston being 130000 of that number). 

UK lists 26000 registered GA aircraft, including ultralights and homebuilt.

Data for other countries is spotty, in many cases data on number of licensed pilots and number of hours flown is easily found, but nothing reliable on number of aircraft.


So, can anyone elaborate on this?  I am primarily interested in manufactured aircraft still airworthy, not ultralights or experimentals or display aircraft or hulks.



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I doubt you'll ever get a complete answer to your question, given how many countries there are with aviation registrations and how few report updated stats. But "approximately 220,000 civil aircraft registered in the U.S." and "FAA registrations fluctuate around 140000 aircraft, not including kit planes, ultralights, etc." for GA (certainly over 10,000 Van's kits sold, with LOTS more homebuilts beyond that), so I suspect that the 220K includes pretty much everything except military. AOPA used to publish current U.S. statistics (maybe still do, I'm no longer a member), but maybe someone out there has more info.




Larry N.

As Skylab would say:

Remember: Aviation is NOT an exact Science!

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How many in the world? No way. Russia, North Korea, China - never, ever going to report any meaningful numbers of aircraft they have or had. Forget it. Roll some dice and multiply by a factor for a random guess, just as meaningless. No way to know.

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