How Many Helicopters in the World?

Updated on 14th August, 2016

Rows of Schweizer Helicopters

How Many Aircraft in the World?

I am sure you have all wondered at some time or another how many helicopters are in the world today. Well, I did a little research and this is what I came up with.

Type of AircraftNumber
Active General Aviation Aircraft360,000
Passenger (Commercial) Aircraft17,770
Military Aircraft89,129
Civil Helicopters26,500
Military Helicopters29,700

General aviation (GA) is defined as all aviation other than scheduled commercial airlines and military aviation.

The 360,000 General Aviation Aircraft includes fixed wing, rotary and private business jets. General Aviation Statistical Databook & Industry Outlook. 209,000 of these aircraft are based in the USA (2012 data).

In 2012 there were 10,055 General Aviation helicopters in the USA and approximately 15,000 rotary pilots.

According to, in 2001; of the 26,500 Civil helicopters, distribution is as follows:

  • 46.1% in North America
  • 18.2% in Europe
  • 12.7% in former Soviet Union
  • 12.3% in Asia/Pacific region
  • 7.2% in South America
  • 3.4% in Middle East
  • 0.1% in Africa

Of the 29,700 Military Helicopters, distribution is as follows:

  • 33.5% in North America
  • 21.1% in Europe
  • 16.6% in former Soviet Union
  • 13.6% in Asia/Pacific region
  • 6.3% in the Middle East
  • 4.5% in Africa
  • 4.4% in South America?

Boeing forecasts there will be demand for more than 35,000 new planes worth $4.8tn (£3.1tn) over the next 20 years, with airlines keen to replace fuel-hungry older models to cope with high oil prices.

According to Flight International’s 2003 Military Aircraft Census, there are an estimated 89,129 military aircraft worldwide.

These figures were very difficult to find and it must be remembered that the numbers are changing constantly.

For those of us who have the opportunity to fly helicopters, it is obvious that we are the privileged few. There are over 7 billion people on our planet today but there are only 56,200 helicopters.

Please let me know if you have any further information and as usual, feel free to leave any comments – good or bad.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to everyone.

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