You can play this game at home: Go to the FlightAware website and click “Browse by aircraft type”For a live preview of what’s in the air in the world.
What you’ll see, according to Myles Din, FlightAware’s Custom Data and Quick Reports manager, is a constantly updated list of flight activity around the world from many sources, including ADS-B data collected from over 27,000 receivers in 201 countries.
“Even if an aircraft … has not filed a flight plan (VFR flights, ad hoc flights), we can still follow the aircraft using multilateration as long as the aircraft is equipped with mode S “Din explained in an email. “The data on the page you are referring to includes all the traffic that we observed on our network for ADS-B and Mode S aircraft, whether or not they have filed a flight plan.
If it’s morning on the east coast, you might see Boeing 737s (the most common transport aircraft) outnumbering Cessna 172s, but repeat the exercise. When we looked at the data from May 18-20, a pattern emerged: After 10 a.m. EST, the Skyhawks are gaining the upper hand and generally keeping it.
For example, on May 19 there were 593 Boeing 737s in flight (all variants) at 10:36 a.m. EST and 440 Cessna 172. By 4 p.m. the number of Skyhawks being tracked by FlightAware had increased to 507 aircraft, with only 271 Boeing 737s (all variants) active. Live data from May 20 followed a similar pattern: At 11:40 a.m. EST, 579 Skyhawks were being tracked and 557 Boeing 737s, although the airliner gained the upper hand during the morning rush hour.
All because of the pandemic, which has absolutely crushed the demand for air travel, dropping boardings to a truly unprecedented degree.
That too will pass, experts believe, and there are signs the Skyhawk’s Air King status may change. FlightAware reported on May 19 that commercial aviation was starting to rebound from the 82% global drop seen on May 2, comparing 2019 and 2020 data on the same day, year after year. As of May 17, the year-over-year decline was 77% (22,354 flights that day in 2020, compared to 96,050 flights on May 17, 2019).
“Since the beginning of May, we have seen commercial flight traffic around the world improve by almost 5 [percent]FlightAware CEO Daniel Baker said in a press release. “While we still have a long way to go, every tenth of a percent represents tens of millions of dollars in economic activity.”
While many flight schools have closed their doors to help “flatten the curve” and have faced their own challenges due to lost income, relaxed guidelines and social distancing notices in most areas. States across the country are likely to put more Skyhawks in the air in the coming days and weeks. There are other signs that general aviation has resisted the downtrend. AOPA Aviation Finance Co. staff noted a 20 percent increase in loan requests in April, and AOPA’s pilot information center is responding to a significant number of inquiries related to aircraft purchases, a typical spring trend.
And while the Cessna Skyhawk remains the most produced aircraft model in history, with more than 44,000 copies manufactured, Piper gets an honorable mention in this story: the Piper Cherokee placed in the top five in each. verification of active flights by aircraft type from May 18. at 20, with around 200 of them flying at any given time.