What else is up there?
As last Sunday was the tenth anniversary of Flightradar 24 coming online, let’s look at the smaller guys who share the skies.
ICAO defines general aviation (GA) as operations that are not commercial air transport services. This includes aerial surveying, search and rescue, business jets, military, firefighting, helimeds, air taxis, helicopters, balloons, gliders and microlights. The “Top 1%” such as Roman Abramovich, Middle eastern rulers and selected captains of industry operate executive versions of larger passenger jets.
In Australia, North America and Canada general aviation is important to cover great distances and serve isolated communities.
Airfield types used range from international, regional, asphalt and grass strips. In some countries, use of international airports is now discouraged due to commercial traffic volumes, although there’s often an area allocated to GA services.
A typical snapshot of activity covers future airline pilots training with flight academies in the Diamond Twin Star. Aerobatic ones honing their skills in the Pitts Special or Sukhoi SU-29. The small jets could be air taxis or air ambulances. Honda and Raytheon have now entered the market alongside Falcon, Lear, Citation and Challenger.
For single or twin propeller, Beech, Piper and Cessna still lead the way. Piaggio chose something different with the P180, mounting the engines in the “pusher” configuration; not a great success. The Sikorsky S-92A Helibus remains popular for oil and gas field operations. Agusta and Airbus also have larger passenger-carrying helicopters. For private owners, Robinson and Bell seem to be the favoured makes.
For those preferring a quieter flight, Schempp-Hirth and Schleicher manufacture gliders. Cameron and Lindstrand are leading names for balloons.
In a future blog we’ll look in more detail at this sector, what’s new and “fly-ins” which give more spotting opportunities.
Image courtesy of allthetests.com