Connecticut home to many little, old planes

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Connecticut’s inventory of aircraft is shaped by World War II-era history and today’s finance industry, according to a Trend CT analysis of the FAA registry.

The vast majority of the 2,344 aircraft registered in Connecticut are small airplanes, according to FAA records.

The aircraft are categorized by weight in pounds, and drones are included in the registry, along with balloons, blimps and gliders.

  • There were 1,875 planes weighing up to 12,499 pounds.
  • There were 155 planes between 12,500 and 19,999 pounds.
  • There were 273 planes 20,000 pounds and heavier. This category is fairly broad – a commercial airliner can weigh more than a million pounds.
  • There were also 41 drones weighing up to 55 pounds (the smallest drones, less than 0.55 pounds do not require registration with the FAA).

Planes lighter than 12,500 pounds are considered “small” planes, and heavier planes are referred to as “large planes,” according to Ridgefield resident Dick Aarons, the safety editor of Business and Commercial Aviation Week. Aarons said that large planes are subject to significantly more stringent regulations.

In this story, we’ll refer to “small” (up to 12,499 pounds) “medium” (12,500 to 19,999 pounds) and “large” planes (20,000 pounds and heavier) for consistency with the three weight ranges in the FAA registry.

Why so many planes from 1946?

Eighty-six of the planes were built in 1946 — that’s more than in any other single year.

Connecticut isn’t alone in this phenomenon. Nationwide, more planes in the FAA registry were manufactured in 1946 than in any other year — 12,634 out of 316,684 records.

According to General Aviation News, there was a boom in production of small planes after World War II, when a wartime prohibition on building civilian aircraft was lifted.

The median year of manufacture of all planes was 1980, but there’s a big difference in age between the small planes and the larger weight groups.

The median year of manufacture of the smallest planes was 1977, but for the medium-sized planes it was 2006 and for the largest planes it was 2004.

Pipers fly ahead of the pack

Piper edged out all other manufacturers with 455 planes in the state. Cessna was almost equal with 451.

According to the New England Air Museum in Windsor Locks, the Piper J3-C-65 Cub, was the most-produced private plane of all time because of a post-war boom in production that died out by 1947.

Here are the top 10 manufacturers in each weight range:

  • Small: Piper (455); Cessna (412); Beech (114); Mooney (42); Cirrus Design Corp (38); Grumman American Aviation Corp. (31); Aeronca (30); Raytheon Aircraft Company (21); Aerostar International Inc. (20); Taylorcraft (16).
  • Medium: Beechcraft Corp. (35); Cessna (32); Gulfstream Aerospace (14); Dassault (10); Pilatus (9); Dassault Aviation (8); Embraer (7); Raytheon Aircraft Company (6); Israel Aircraft Industries (6); Dassault-Breguet (5).
  • Large: Bombardier Inc. (78); Boeing (46); Gulfstream Aerospace (37); Airbus (33); Dassault Aviation (15); Douglas (9); Cessna (7); Dassault-Breguet (7); Canadair Ltd. (5); Learjet Inc. (4).
Top towns for small planes

Danbury, which has an airport for smaller and mid-sized planes, is the top city for planes under 12,500 pounds, with 65, followed by Norwalk, with 62 and Greenwich with 60.

Here are the top 10 locations for plane registrations by weight:

  • Small: Danbury (65); Norwalk* (62); Greenwich (60); Hartford (47); Stratford (32); Stamford (30); Fairfield (30); Ridgefield (25); Southbury (24); New Milford (24).
  • Medium: Norwalk* (43); Shelton (35); Danbury (12); Oxford (9); Greenwich (6); Hartford 6); West Hartford (5); Stamford (5); Stratford (4); Windsor Locks (3).
  • Large: Norwalk* (155); Greenwich (18); Oxford (14); Hartford (14); Stamford (13); Stratford (8); Fairfield (8); Windsor Locks (6); Wilton (5); Old Greenwich (4).
The Norwalk asterisk

Norwalk has more total aircraft registered than any other town or city in Connecticut, by far.

There were 260 planes registered in Norwalk, which has no airport. Greenwich, which also has no airport, was a distant second with 84 planes. But it turns out that that’s related to GE Capital’s aircraft leasing business.

More than 130 planes were owned by LLCs registered at a Norwalk address associated with the company but were operated by lessees, such as AirTran, which was absorbed by Southwest Airlines. The leases were sold last year as part of a $2.5 billion sale to Global Jet Capital, Aimee Talbert Nardini, a spokesperson for Global Jet, confirmed.

Personal or business use?

Based on the FAA’s record of registrant type, there was just about an even split between corporations (1,083) and individuals (1,066) listed as plane owners, but that can be deceptive. A corporation can be an LLC formed by an individual for the purpose of owning a plane. It doesn’t mean the operator is using the plane in a business capacity.

About the data

The data for this story came from the FAA’s registry. The entire registry may be downloaded here, but it’s also availably by county here. The county data is formatted differently and is easier to read without consulting a data dictionary, but the full database contains more detailed information. Trend CT’s analysis is available in our data repository here.

What do you think?

  • Wade

    I’m curious how many aircraft are owned/operated or leased by the state of Connecticut itself.