By Adam Hunt
Once again in 2006 the private aircraft fleet in Canada increased at a rapid rate, adding 626 aircraft for an overall growth rate of 2.6 per cent
This is just below record levels set in 2005 of 648 private aircraft added and 2.8 per cent growth.
In 2006 the private fleet expanded to 24,397 aircraft which is 79 per cent of the total 31,018 aircraft in Canada.
For the second year in a row the largest growth in private aircraft was in the certified category where 208 aircraft were added, just slightly below last year’s record 216 aircraft.
The majority of these aircraft were imported from the USA. A total of 791 aircraft were imported into Canada last year, up from 735 imported in 2005. A total of 881 were exported, down from the 901 exported in 2005. Many of these exports were new aircraft built by such Canadian manufacturers as Bombardier, Bell Helicopter, Diamond and Found Aircraft and so were never registered in Canada.
The second fastest growing category in 2006 was basic ultralights, which added 166 aircraft. This is an increase over the 146 basic ultralights added in 2005 making BULAs the only category of private aircraft to post significantly higher numbers in 2006 than 2005.
Advanced ultralights grew by 63 aircraft in 2006, slightly fewer than the 70 registered in 2005, although this year’s additions still represent 7.3 per cent growth in this small category that ended 2006 with 939 airplanes in total.
Owner maintenance aircraft increased by 36 aircraft in 2006, to hit a total of 388. This was less than last year’s increase of 60 aircraft, clearly showing that the on-going restriction of this category from flying in the USA is stunting its growth rate.
Amateur-built aircraft increased by 131, growing at almost exactly the same rate as in 2005 when 127 were added to the Civil Aircraft Register.
By category of private aircraft the greatest percentage growth was again in helicopters in 2006 which increased by 9.2 per cent or a total of 48 in number. Privately registered balloons increased by two and gyroplanes actually saw their numbers shrink by one rotorcraft.
In the commercial world the fleet reversed 2005’s shrinkage and grew by an overall 2.3 per cent adding a total of 143 aircraft to total 6,344 by year’s end. The greatest commercial sector growth was in helicopters, with 67 added and in transport category airplanes with 59 added.
The State fleet of government owned aircraft grew by just five aircraft to a total of 774.
It is clear that the U.S. dollar is continuing to fuel the demand for private aircraft in Canada. With many aircraft for sale in Canada at prices that are higher than in the U.S., Canadians are looking south to fulfill their aircraft ownership aspirations.
Even through the rate of growth slowed in comparison to 2005, the growth in 2006 was still remarkable and shows that more Canadians want to be aircraft owners.
While the stronger Canadian dollar makes much of this growth possible, it is also likely being driven by the baby-boom generation starting to retire. Many of this generation want to be aircraft owners while they are still young enough to enjoy travelling by aircraft.
It is expected that with the U.S. dollar remaining near the Cdn$1.15 level and a not-yet exhausted pent-up demand for aircraft in Canada, the current growth in private aircraft ownership will continue for several more years.
The numbers presented here are from Transport Canada and represent their official aircraft registration, import and export data. The numbers cover Dec. 31, 2005 to Dec. 31, 2006. The data published gives the change in the aircraft fleet, in other words the difference between the number of aircraft built and imported minus the number destroyed and exported.