The US DoT Form 41 is treated by many as something less than truthful. Sometimes this is because the viewer does not like the data. Other times its because airlines are known to be “creative” with how they report their numbers to DoT. Sometimes an OEM will quote the data because it helps make a point – typically a marketing point. And the circle goes round and round.
The thing is, in the commercial aviation world, there is nothing quite like the US DoT Form 41. There is a tremendous amount of detailed information in Form 41 and it is unique. So, flawed as it might be, we use it because, frankly, there’s nothing else.
The chart below shows total air ops expenses divided by total air hours. The data we used is for all US-based airlines flying the aircraft shown in the chart. We then took the average of the US-based fleet to get seat counts by aircraft type. Dividing this all out produced the chart.
One could take a position that the data is spurious – after all, just look at the variance, it does look odd. But, on the other hand, flawed as the data might be (nobody knows or will say exactly how flawed) is what we have here is equally flawed for all aircraft?
That said, we think the chart shows interesting trends. One fleet planner expressed surprise to see the 767-300 curve, “…I expected the 763 to perform better than that”. Followed by “but then Form 41 is the not the cleanest data for aircraft economics comparison”. Another industry contact humorously said, “It is interesting and suddenly makes F41 data suddenly very credible”.
We won’t opine on the chart. But we suspect it might elicit some comments.