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Working on a type of estimate model for aviation and was wondering if there was an approximate total number of flight hours in a year across the industry as a whole?

Edit: Counting only Commercial Flights

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  • $\begingroup$ AOPA says "The latest data shows general aviation flies more than 20 million hours each year". I think may just be in the US. That includes me and my 50 hours. They have a nice 2 page brochure on What is General Aviation? aopa.org/-/media/files/aopa/home/advocacy/what_ga.pdf Then you have all the commercial passenger flights, adding millions more ... $\endgroup$
    – CrossRoads
    Commented Sep 26, 2019 at 12:06
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    $\begingroup$ Are you including GA and military? $\endgroup$
    – Manu H
    Commented Sep 26, 2019 at 12:06
  • $\begingroup$ @ManuH just commercial Aviation, apologies for the lack of specification. $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 26, 2019 at 12:31
  • $\begingroup$ @PatrickMcClean no worry, that's also why comment are for (giving help to precise the question) $\endgroup$
    – Manu H
    Commented Sep 26, 2019 at 20:19

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In 2018 there were about 37.8 million commercial flights. If we multiply this number with the overall average flight duration, we get the answer. Unfortunately I could not find a result for this directly.

We can however calculate it from the data provided by the MIT Airline Data Project. The data says there were 3,954 aircraft available on average in 2018 that accumulated a combined 13,398,545 flight hours with 3.82 departures per aircraft per day on average. This means the average flight duration was

$$ d = \frac{13\,398\,545 \, \mathrm{h}}{3954 \times 365 \times 3.82} \approx 2.43 \, \mathrm{h} $$

This is just based on various US carriers, so the world average might be somewhat different, but since US carriers fly a wide variety of flights from short domestic routes to ultra-long haul international routes, I assume this number to be close to the true answer.

The resulting total number of flight hours is then

$$ 37.8 \cdot 10^{6} \times d \approx \mathbf{91.8 \cdot 10^6 \, h} $$

This does not yet include GA traffic or military flights.

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  • $\begingroup$ Great answer to a tough question, giving estimates (supported by sources) and resulting in a useful approximation (i.e. 91.8 x 10^6 h; or in words: a tad shy of 100 million hours per year) $\endgroup$
    – stevec
    Commented Jun 3, 2023 at 3:02

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