Dude, where’s my fleet?


BGAD Overview (Photo: Alud Davies)

More openness could encourage new participants to business aviation.
BGAD Overview (Photo: Alud Davies)

BGAD Overview (Photo: Alud Davies)

There are some things in life that, no matter how hard you try, you’ll never be able to work out. From ‘How big is the universe?’ right the way through to ‘Why is my partner mad at me?’ some things just can’t be answered with any degree of accuracy.

Unfortunately, the same can be said for some of the questions we get asked about business aviation.

‘How many business jets are there in [insert country]?’ is a particular favourite that we often hear. Although we can make an educated guess, it seems that sometimes nobody knows the precise answer.

There are, of course, companies out there that track these things (and track them well) but after counting how many aircraft are physically registered in the country, it is then down to a heap of research, and possibly a bucket full of luck to work out who actually owns any foreign registered aircraft that are operating in the country.

That’s not the fault of the companies who track fleets, it’s more a reflection on the opaqueness that we have as an industry.

In the airline world, things are much easier. As soon as Emirates orders a heap of A380s, Airbus will put out a press release proudly letting everybody know. And why shouldn’t they?

But private aviation is, well, more private. Announcements are made, but these tend to be for large fleet orders, or in the case of the Pilatus PC-24, launch orders.

Some manufacturers are better at releasing details than others. Several let the tracking companies know on a monthly or quarterly basis which serial numbers they have delivered to which country, others won’t even let them know what types they have delivered.

A manufacturer once implored me to use their own data for fleet counts rather than using one of the tracking companies’ data, which I thought was a little unfair.

One of the reasons people use business aviation is confidentiality – and I am not asking for private details. But if we could be a bit more open as an industry it would help encourage new participants.

The above post first appeared in our ‘One Minute Week’ newsletter on September 26.

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