Business aviation flight hours have returned to about 83 percent of the 2008 peak levels, Jet Support Services, Inc. (JSSI) estimates. The maintenance support company, which tracks global flight hours by industry segment and aircraft, estimates that monthly usage reached about 27.75 hours per aircraft in the second quarter of 2015, compared with the peak usage of 33.45 hours per aircraft logged in the first quarter of 2008.
Flight hours have improved during the year, increasing 4.9 percent quarter-over-quarter in the second quarter. "Q2 2015's flight activity is demonstrative of improving economic conditions in key business aviation markets around the world," said JSSI president and CEO Neil Book. "Additionally, the strong growth in more cost-efficient, small-cabin airplanes speaks to how operators are using 'mission appropriate' aircraft to run their businesses."
All segments of flight hours were up quarter-over-quarter, with helicopter hours up 15.1 percent, followed by small-cabin aircraft at 7.1 percent, large-cabin at 3.1 percent and medium cabins at 3 percent. Compared with the second quarter of 2014, though, only small-cabin and medium-cabin flights increased (by 3.9 percent and 1.7 percent, respectively). Helicopter flight hours are still down 10.3 percent and large-cabin hours are off 5.2 percent.
Flight hours in the Middle East and Europe picked up the most from the first quarter (20.4 percent and 16.6 percent, respectively), while South America flights slid 11.9 percent. Compared with the second quarter of last year, only Europe (2.5 percent) and North America (0.3 percent) were up in the most recent quarter, while Middle East flight hours were down 13.1 percent and Africa flights by 12.1 percent.
By industry, the business services sector led the quarter-over-quarter gains at 13.3 percent and posted strong year-over-year results of 7 percent. The financial services sector was down by 10.3 percent compared with the first quarter and 10 percent compared with the same period in 2014. Power and energy segment flights, while down 8 percent from a year ago, were up 1.6 percent over the first quarter.
"While we haven't hit 2008 levels, 2015 is shaping up to be a very strong flight hour year and we expect to see this trend continue for the rest of 2015 and into 2016," Book said.