The Commercial Aircraft With The Highest Hours And Flight Cycles

It’s time to sit back and crunch some numbers using data from our friends at Let’s take a look at the world’s active aircraft to find out which have had the busiest service lives. We shall do so in terms of both flight hours and flight cycles.

Condor Boeing 767
Condor 767s have registered some of the world’s highest hour tallies. Photo: Tom Boon | Simple Flying

Busy Boeings

Let’s start by examining the rankings as far as flight hours are concerned. Data from ch-aviation shows that the busiest active aircraft by this metric is a Boeing 767-300 freighter belonging to Cargojet Airways. This 33-year old jet (C-FCAE) had racked up a staggering 140,249 flight hours as of April 2021. It previously flew for Canadian Airlines and Air Canada.

The next three aircraft on the list are also 767s. However, in this instance, they are all examples of the passenger-carrying 767-300ER version. Flying for German leisure carrier Condor, the busiest of these 28-year-old veterans (D-ABUC) had amassed 138,671 hours as of April 2021. Meanwhile, D-ABUA had 137,969 hours, and D-ABUB had 136,325.

Rounding out the top five in this metric is a Boeing 747-400 freighter owned by Korean carrier Asiana. Registered as HL7413, this 30-year-old jumbo had amassed 135,528 hours as of April 2021. It is interesting that all of the top five are Boeing aircraft.

Asiana Boeing 747 Getty
Asiana operates the world’s busiest active Boeing 747 by flight hours. Photo: Getty Images

Over 100,000 cycles

A common theme among the aircraft with the most flight hours is that they are all long-haul designs. As such, the hours that they have racked up are spread across fewer cycles. Therefore, it is also worth examining the aircraft that have completed the largest number of these, even if they haven’t amassed the same number of hours in doing so.

At the time of writing, ch-aviation’s data shows that the active aircraft with the most completed flight cycles is LN-WIB. This de Havilland Dash 8-100 turboprop belongs to Norwegian regional carrier Widerøe, and had completed a staggering 109,976 flight cycles in its 28 years of service as of March 2021. This works out at an average of 3,930 a year!

12 active aircraft have surpassed the 100,000 cycle mark, and all are Widerøe Dash 8-100s. This is indicative of the ‘milk run‘ style flights with multiple short sectors that the carrier deploys them on. Their average cycle length is generally around half an hour.

Widerøe Dash 8-100
Widerøe’s Dash 8-100s are the world’s busiest aircraft by flight cycles. Photo: Jan Johansen via Flickr

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The best of the rest

Moving away from Widerøe’s busy Dash 8-100s, let’s wrap up by taking a look at some of the world’s other most active aircraft when it comes to flight cycles. Canadian regional airline Jazz Air has seven Dash 8-300s aged 30 years or older which sit near the top of the rankings, ranging between 79,928 (C-GEWQ) and 84,696 (C-GKTA) flight cycles.

Two interesting anomalies to end on are JA801B and JA802B, a pair of Dash 8-Q300s from Japanese carrier Oriental Air Bridge. These aircraft have amassed an impressive 79,549 and 77,589 flight cycles respectively, but are comparatively young at 20 years old. It will be interesting to see whether they too will hit the 100,000 mark later on.

Have you ever flown on any of these well-used aircraft? What’s the highest number of flight cycles or hours that you’ve known an aircraft to have? Let us know your thoughts and experiences in the comments!