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March 28, 2007

Wealthy consumption, airplanes and the environment

Future pundit brought up a concern about high consumption by a lot of rich people in the future causing environmental problems

I examine more of the statistics around the current situation. Previously I looked at what the projected wealth situation might look like.

Work is being done to reduce the environmental impact of planes. Molecular nanotechnology will both remove limits on the production of planes and large houses but will also enable the environmental impact to be greatly reduced.

I think limitations on construction pre-molecular manufacturing will keep the environmental impact of the very wealthy as a small fraction of overall consumption.

The wealthy are starting to buy commercial airline size jets This is still a tiny fraction 50-100 planes out of the 5000 boeing 737, 1050 boeing 757, 950 boeing 767, 1380 boeing 747 and the 4000 or so airbus planes.

The fairly wealthy who are not high consumption are described in the millionaire next door. The consumption pattern of many high net worth people with an average of 3.5 million is not as conspicuous as some who are very rich

Private jet owners have an average annual income of $9.2 million and a net worth of $89.3 million. They are 57 years old. And 70% of them are men.
Article profiling of private jet owners
Corporate jet article from USA today

11,000 business jets in worldwide fleet. This is a little less than the total number of 100+ person jets (boeing and airbus) used by the commercial airlines.

US Fuel consumption figures and projections from the FAA for private jets and planes

By piston-engine planes
2005: 75.1 million gallons.
2017: forecast: 86.5 million gallons.
Average annual growth rate: 1.2 percent.

By jet-engine planes
2005: 793.3 million gallons.
2017: forecast: 2,427.6 million gallons.
Average annual growth rate: 9.8 percent

Total fuel consumed
2005: 1,298.8 million gallons.
2017: estimate:3,065.3 million gallons.
Average annual growth rate: 7.4 percent.

Global usage of jet fuel is about 71 billion gallons/year. 19.5 billion gallons used by US airlines. Private planes use 6.6% of the total jet fuel.

A Forbes article about the booming private jet market. Private jets increased 35% in first half of 2006.

Small jets as an alternative to flying first class

The air taxi model: utilizing 5000 small airports in the USA (out of total 14,000 airports), not just the 30 big ones and 550 commercial ones. There will be a similar increase in the usage of small airports worldwide.


Further reading:
Nasa's vision of air taxi's
air taxi vision
Nasa's vision of small jet systems linking small airports
A study of the small air transportation program
The summary of the section examining impacts of the small air transportation system including environmental impacts.

Some research on rich people

Spending patterns for some of the rich

Very light jet market 2007-2016

This study predicts the delivery of 4,124 VLJs during 2007-2016 – which added to the 30 or so delivered in 2006 will put the global VLJ fleet at 4,154 aircraft. Some industry observers critical of the manufacturer-supplied growth rate contend that only two, or at best three, manufacturers will make it to market but the authors of this report are slightly more optimistic than this. We believe, in addition to the five key programmes featured in this report (A700, Cessna Mustang, Embraer Phenom 100, Diamond D-Jet and Eclipse 500) there will be other new entrants who succeed in producing aircraft for the personal jet market, and estimates for these are listed in the HondaJet/new entrant line, with an average aircraft sales price of $2.8 million, throughout the timeframe of the study – equivalent to the HondaJet reported retail price in 2010.

Here is a study for more environmentally benign aircraft

MIT looks at aviation and the environment.

A pdf with a government view of a vision for Air transportation in 2025

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