Chuffy
Topic Author
Posts: 48
Joined: Sun Feb 27, 2005 3:30 am

### How Many In The Sky At Once?

Hello my learned friends.

While flying from Budapest on Monday there was a moment when, including us, there were five planes visible from my window. This made me wonder how many passengers/airliners are in flight, globally, at any one time.

My formula would be to take the top ten airports / 60 take offs per hour / average 200 pax on board. This would give a figure of 600 aircraft and 120,000 passengers in the sky at any one time.

What do you think?

NKMCO
Posts: 72
Joined: Thu Oct 13, 2005 8:23 am

### RE: How Many In The Sky At Once?

Well, if you go to http://flightaware.com/ they were tracking 4939 flights at 10:05 am. This in only what FAA (US) tracks. If you take a very conservative average of 100 pax per plane that would take it to about half a million in the US only.

[Edited 2006-04-06 16:08:02]

[Edited 2006-04-06 16:08:32]

LH492
Posts: 203
Joined: Wed Feb 01, 2006 6:14 am

### RE: How Many In The Sky At Once?

I once heard that every moment 50.000 planes are in the air, all over the globe.
It was on a documentary about Air Traffic and the dangers that come with high dnesity routes.
I do not know if this number is reliable because one should never trust the media when it come to aviation since they get a lot of things wrong.

Cheers,
Philipp
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bond007
Posts: 4428
Joined: Mon Mar 14, 2005 2:07 am

### RE: How Many In The Sky At Once?

 Quoting LH492 (Reply 2):I once heard that every moment 50.000 planes are in the air, all over the globe.

Since the US has around 5,000 in the air at peak times, it is unlikely that is just 10% of the total global amount. Also, because of the time difference, the peak times in Asia will not coincide with the peak US/European times.

I'm sure this has been discussed before, but 50,000 seems far too high.

Jimbo
I'd rather be on the ground wishing I was in the air, than in the air wishing I was on the ground!

lordanmol
Posts: 428
Joined: Fri May 06, 2005 11:22 pm

### RE: How Many In The Sky At Once?

I dont know about that, but I was reading a book that stated 'at any given time there are 700 737 in the sky'

Regards
Hmmmmm....

bond007
Posts: 4428
Joined: Mon Mar 14, 2005 2:07 am

### RE: How Many In The Sky At Once?

 Quoting Lordanmol (Reply 4):'at any given time there are 700 737 in the sky'

A lot more that, just in the USA right now there are 880 B737's .... 36% of 'em SWA.

It's actually the most common aircraft in terms of number of flights in the USA.

Jimbo
I'd rather be on the ground wishing I was in the air, than in the air wishing I was on the ground!

echster
Posts: 396
Joined: Thu Sep 02, 2004 4:01 pm

### RE: How Many In The Sky At Once?

Last year in the US alone, the FAA said just over 700 million people flew commercial airlines. This equates to approximately 1.9+ million pax a day. How many aircraft is that? That's a lot of aircraft! It also does not include GA, VFR, or military flights.

bond007
Posts: 4428
Joined: Mon Mar 14, 2005 2:07 am

### RE: How Many In The Sky At Once?

 Quoting Echster (Reply 6):Last year in the US alone, the FAA said just over 700 million people flew commercial airlines. This equates to approximately 1.9+ million pax a day. How many aircraft is that? That's a lot of aircraft! It also does not include GA, VFR, or military flights.

Well, for the US, we pretty much know the figures. To answer your question - there are around 50,000 flights/day at most in the USA.

But the question was:

 Quoting Chuffy (Thread starter):how many passengers/airliners are in flight, globally, at any one time.

Jimbo
I'd rather be on the ground wishing I was in the air, than in the air wishing I was on the ground!

RDUDDJI
Posts: 1827
Joined: Fri Jun 04, 2004 4:42 am

### RE: How Many In The Sky At Once?

 Quoting Bond007 (Reply 3):Since the US has around 5,000 in the air at peak times, it is unlikely that is just 10% of the total global amount. Also, because of the time difference, the peak times in Asia will not coincide with the peak US/European times.

I've seen as high as 6,200 routes at once (including part 121, 135 and other IFR GA traffic) as recently as last summer. It's cool to watch a time-lapse of the flow on your favorite ASD (Aircraft Situation Display) program over a 24-hour period. Someone once posted a time-lapse video file of FedEx's operations in the US over a 24-hour period...I wish I still had the file.
Sometimes we don't realize the good times when we're in them

lmml 14/32
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Joined: Tue Jan 30, 2001 2:27 am

### RE: How Many In The Sky At Once?

At any given time there are 1100 airplanes, all widebodies, crossing the Atlantic.

Stealthz
Posts: 5554
Joined: Wed Feb 02, 2005 11:43 am

### RE: How Many In The Sky At Once?

 Quoting LMML 14/32 (Reply 9): At any given time there are 1100 airplanes, all widebodies, crossing the Atlantic.

I don't have the data to openly dispute this figure but to my mind that seems high.

 Quoting LH492 (Reply 2): I once heard that every moment 50.000 planes are in the air, all over the globe.

That number seems pretty high.. if it is only Airliners it would be way high!

Some figures that may help figure out the answers.. in 2004 there were approx 47,950 departures per day, as at 31Dec 2004 there were 19,077 aircraft to perform those flights.
Note those figures are for Certified Jet aircraft greater than 60,000lbs and excludes Military aircraft and aircraft from the CIS.

Data is from 'Statistical Summary of Commericial Jet Airplane Accidents, Worldwide Summary, 1959-2004' published by Boeing Commercial Airplanes

[Edited 2006-04-07 10:29:10]
If your camera sends text messages, that could explain why your photos are rubbish!

CPH757
Posts: 652
Joined: Fri Sep 09, 2005 11:40 pm

### RE: How Many In The Sky At Once?

 Quoting LH492 (Reply 2):I once heard that every moment 50.000 planes are in the air, all over the globe. It was on a documentary about Air Traffic and the dangers that come with high dnesity routes. I do not know if this number is reliable because one should never trust the media when it come to aviation since they get a lot of things wrong.

I saw a program on the same subject two days ago. They actually mentioned 15000, not 50000

In the US alone, the usually hit 6000 aircrafts in peak hour according to that show.
Last flight: SAW-CPH on H9 on 02/11/09 - Next Flights: 23/12/09 CPH-AAL on QI, 30/12/09 CPH-LHR on SK, 19/01/10 CPH-CDG-

bond007
Posts: 4428
Joined: Mon Mar 14, 2005 2:07 am

### RE: How Many In The Sky At Once?

 Quoting RDUDDJI (Reply 8):I've seen as high as 6,200 routes at once (including part 121, 135 and other IFR GA traffic) as recently as last summer.

Right, my '5,000' was a round estimate of airliners.

 Quoting StealthZ (Reply 10): in 2004 there were approx 47,950 departures per day,

In the US alone, there are that many departures a day.

 Quoting CPH757 (Reply 11):They actually mentioned 15000, not 50000

That's a more realistic amount.

Jimbo
I'd rather be on the ground wishing I was in the air, than in the air wishing I was on the ground!

Stealthz
Posts: 5554
Joined: Wed Feb 02, 2005 11:43 am

### RE: How Many In The Sky At Once?

 Quoting Bond007 (Reply 12):In the US alone, there are that many departures a day.

Not my numbers Jimbo....

The report states 17.5 million departures in 2004/365 = 47945

Working out the fleet utilisation numbers the hours in the day and average flight length.. don't think so

Don't forget these numbers eliminate many Regional jets
If your camera sends text messages, that could explain why your photos are rubbish!

bond007
Posts: 4428
Joined: Mon Mar 14, 2005 2:07 am

### RE: How Many In The Sky At Once?

 Quoting StealthZ (Reply 13):Don't forget these numbers eliminate many Regional jets

Ah! In which case might explain the numbers

Jimbo
I'd rather be on the ground wishing I was in the air, than in the air wishing I was on the ground!

echster
Posts: 396
Joined: Thu Sep 02, 2004 4:01 pm

### RE: How Many In The Sky At Once?

From the NATCA website:

On any given day, more than 87,000 flights are in the skies in the United States. Only 35 percent, or just over 30,000 of those flights are commercial carriers. On an average day, air traffic controllers handle 28,537 commercial flights (major and regional airlines), 27,178 general aviation flights (private planes), 24,548 air taxi flights (planes for hire), 5,260 military flights and 2,148 air cargo flights (Federal Express, UPS, etc.). At any given moment, roughly 5,000 planes are in the skies above the United States. In one year, controllers handle an average of 64 million takeoffs and landings.

For every one flight you see listed on an airport monitor, two you don't see show up on air traffic controllers' screens. It would take approximately 7,300 airport terminal monitors to show all the flights controllers handle in a single day and approximately 460 monitors to show the number of flights being handled at any one time.

Chuffy
Topic Author
Posts: 48
Joined: Sun Feb 27, 2005 3:30 am

### RE: How Many In The Sky At Once?

 Quoting Echster (Reply 15):On any given day, more than 87,000 flights are in the skies in the United States. Only 35 percent, or just over 30,000 of those flights are commercial carriers. On an average day, air traffic controllers handle 28,537 commercial flights (major and regional airlines), 27,178 general aviation flights (private planes), 24,548 air taxi flights (planes for hire), 5,260 military flights and 2,148 air cargo flights (Federal Express, UPS, etc.). At any given moment, roughly 5,000 planes are in the skies above the United States. In one year, controllers handle an average of 64 million takeoffs and landings. For every one flight you see listed on an airport monitor, two you don't see show up on air traffic controllers' screens. It would take approximately 7,300 airport terminal monitors to show all the flights controllers handle in a single day and approximately 460 monitors to show the number of flights being handled at any one time.

I think this is as close as we get to the difinitive solution. What weighting you would put on the US for a global figure ?

Chuffy

bond007
Posts: 4428
Joined: Mon Mar 14, 2005 2:07 am

### RE: How Many In The Sky At Once?

 Quoting Chuffy (Reply 16):I think this is as close as we get to the difinitive solution.

Well, we had this data from the first replies actually.

The only figure that matters is the 5,000 in the air in the USA at one time.

..but yes, if you know what proportion of worldwide traffic this is ...you have the answer.

As mentioned earlier, somewhere in the area of 15,000 sounds possible.

Jimbo
I'd rather be on the ground wishing I was in the air, than in the air wishing I was on the ground!

Chuffy
Topic Author
Posts: 48
Joined: Sun Feb 27, 2005 3:30 am

### RE: How Many In The Sky At Once?

Thanks Jimbo.

c. 15000 flights, average 100 pax = 1.5 million people in the air.

If the worlds population is 6 billion, does that make 0.004 0.04 or .4% of it in flight?

Chuffy

fewsolarge
Posts: 398
Joined: Wed Dec 29, 2004 7:37 am

### RE: How Many In The Sky At Once?

One guy did a fine job on a set of visualizations of North American air traffic. You'll need QuickTime to see it:

http://www.aaronkoblin.com/work/faa/

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