The U.S. Fleet has changed significantly over the past 17 years. Using the free VisualApproach.io data explorer, we can watch the fleet change over the years with the help of animated charts.
As the McDonnell Douglas fleet slowly goes away, the landscape has become dominated by four players: Bombardier and Embraer with regional aircraft, and Airbus and Boeing with larger jets. Average stage length has increased overall, with new large regional jets extending the smaller capacity ranges, and wide-bodies being used more exclusively on long range missions. In 2000, the 747-400 averaged the longest stage lengths, at 4,700 miles. By 2017, wide-body stage lengths have been extended to as far as 5,700 miles with the 787-9.
Cessna makes an interesting appearance with the largest number of operators being for the oft-forgotten Cessna Caravan. With 17 airlines operating the type and an ultra-low stage length of only 108 miles, the Caravan has proven itself as the workhorse of the small airline.
To use the chart, you can either select a year on the slider to view a specific year, or allow it to play through all 17 years, watching how the fleet has transitioned. Select which manufacturer you would like to see by clicking on the OEM name in the legend, and hover your cursor over the circle to learn more about the aircraft, stage length, and number of operators. Drag a box to zoom into an area, and double click the chart to return to normal zoom.