“How many hours do airplanes fly in a day ?”
My recent flight was delayed because we were waiting for our airplane to arrive from another flight. The airplane was 55 minutes on the ground, then we were airborne on our three hour flight. It seems that airplanes spend more time in the air than on the ground. Is this correct ?
Question asked by Ellen
Airplanes are very expensive assets. An airplane on the ground does not generate revenue, therefore airlines must use this asset as efficiently as possible. If an airline does not use their fleet of airplanes efficiently, it will be out of business very quickly.
Airplanes that fly mainly within North America usually do several flights from morning to late evening hours, with stops between flights from 30 to 60 minutes. At night these airplanes are parked at airports being readied for early morning departures. Many airplanes are also undergoing maintenance at night, as all airplanes have to be maintained according to a prescribed program. Thus these airplanes are in the air 10 to 14 hours in a 24 hour period.
Large airplanes, those that fly across oceans, from one continent to another spend even more time in the air. Some of those airplanes are capable to fly non-stop for 14 hours, have a two hour ground stop and fly back another 14 hours. Typically those airplanes would fly on 8 to 14 hour flights. In a 24 hour period they may average up to 18 hours of flight time, as some ground time must also be reserved for scheduled, prescribed maintenance. Many airplanes spend more time in the air than on the ground, during their lifetime. Some of those airplanes can cost up to $200 million. Efficient use of those airplanes is paramount.
A bit more about Captain Dan:
Captain Dan Baz enrolled in Flight School at the age of 16.
He has completed studies in Aircraft Engineering and Master of Business Administration. He has been at the controls of many different types of aircraft, from single engine Cessnas to large intercontinental jets on global routes.
Over the last four decades he has flown thousands of hours up in the blue sky.
Have a question for the Captain ? Send it to Captain Dan Baz firstname.lastname@example.org Every week a question from the readers will be selected and answer posted in this column.