50+ Eye-Popping Airplane Facts and Statistics [2023]

50+ surprising airplane stats and facts
As seen on:

Every year, millions of people use airplanes for leisure and business.


There are still travelers afraid of flying who find it difficult to take to the skies.

That’s why, at Passport Photo Online, we’ve decided to compile the most recent and surprising stats and facts about airplanes to take the fear out of travelers and help them discover the secrets of aviation.

Scroll on!

Top 15 Airplane Stats and Facts to Know in 2023

Top 15 Airplane Stats and Facts to Know
  1. The average price of building an airplane ranges from $90 to $115M, depending on its size and capability.
  2. With a wingspan of 288 feet (87 m), a weight of 710 tons, and six engines, the Antonov An-225 Mriya was the largest operational airplane until Russia destroyed it in 2022.
  3. The plane’s famous “black box” is not black but orange because it’d be more visible in case of an accident. 
  4. The commander and the first officer aren’t allowed to eat the same food. That’s because if something is wrong with the meal, the other pilot can still operate the plane. 
  5. Although it seems airplanes need two engines, some can fly with only one engine for almost five hours.
  6. The main components of airplanes are titanium, steel, and aluminum.
  7. The probability of dying in a plane crash is one in 11M, while the possibility of dying in a car crash is one in 5K. That means your chances of dying in a car accident are 2.2K times higher than in a plane crash.
  8. The New York to Abu Dhabi flight with Etihad can cost travelers ~$64K (one-way).
  9. While most commercial aircraft reach a maximum of 559 mph (899 km), the Lockheed SR-71 (today’s fastest aircraft) can go as fast as 2,100 mph (3,379 km).
  10. The Airbus A380 is the largest passenger plane that can carry up to 850 people.
  11. 43% of pilots admitted to falling asleep while flying.
  12. The altitude at which commercial aircraft usually fly is between 33,000 and 42,000 feet (10 and 12.8 km). It’s called cruising altitude.
  13. The lifespan of a passenger airplane is ~25 years, after which it’s destined for cargo use.
  14. The longest non-stop flight from Seoul (South Korea) to Buenos Aires (Argentina) lasts 20 hours and 19 minutes.
  15. Commercial airplanes are struck by lightning an average of two times yearly. Even so, aircraft are prepared to withstand a discharge of that power and avoid significant damage.

passport photo editor

Looking for passport photos? Discover more information:

Fun Airplane Facts

  • The first ever flight lasted only 12 seconds and covered 121 feet (36 m).
  • It’s estimated that 96K planes are in the air every day.
Number of Planes in the SkiesFrequency
  • The world’s shortest commercial flight lasts only 80 seconds and travels only 16.77 miles (26.9 km)—the distance between the islands of Papa Westray and Westray in Scotland.
  • It’s estimated there are between 1.5 and 2.3M pilots worldwide. The country with the most pilots is the USA (730K pilots).

Aviation History Facts

  • The word airplane comes from the Greek “aēr,” meaning air, and the Latin term “planus,” which stands for level.
  • At the age of 86 (and with 65+ years in aviation), Bette Nash is considered the most experienced flight attendant.
  • On May 15, 1930, Ellen Church became the first female flight attendant, working a 20-hour flight from San Francisco to Chicago.
  • College Park Airport in the city of College Park (Maryland, US) is the world’s oldest airport in operation, established in 1909.
  • The first transatlantic flight took place on June 14, 1919.
  • New York International Airport opened in 1948 and was known as Idlewild Airport.

Trivia Facts about Airplane Passengers

  • There were about 6K reports of unruly passengers in 2021 in the US alone.
  • The flight crew has the legal authority to use handcuffs if de-escalation tactics don’t work and a passenger threatens the aircraft’s safety.
  • Oxygen masks don’t last for the entire flight in case of cabin depressurization. They can only provide air to passengers for ~15 minutes.
  • 61% of passengers who sleep on a plane rate their sleep quality as poor or below average.

Riveting Facts and Statistics About Private Jets

  • The largest private jet belongs to Joseph Lau and is valued at $367M. It has an interior of 1,460 square feet (135 sq m) and a spiral staircase connecting the two levels.
  • The most expensive private jet in the world is Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal’s  Airbus A380. It’s worth over $500M.
  • There are 22K private aircraft worldwide today.
  • Private light aircraft suffer an average of five daily accidents, resulting in ~500 fatalities annually in the US.
  • The country with the most private jets is the USA (12K), followed by Mexico at 950.
CountriesNumber of Private Jets
The United States of America12K
  • There are private jets with saunas, jacuzzis, and other luxury amenities. Thus, Sir Elton John’s $89M private jet features a piano he uses to practice before his musical tours.
  • Niger, the most impoverished nation in the world, has 45 private aircraft, with rentals costing about $4K per hour.
  • The price of buying a private jet hangar varies between $30K and several million dollars.

Airports and Airplanes: Facts and Trivia

  • FedEx has the biggest number of airplanes for cargo transportation, with almost 700 aircraft.
TOP Companies Using Airplanes for Cargo TransportationNumber of Airplanes
FedEx Express689
UPS Airlines290
Amazon Air75
  • While the United States has the most airports (19,622), there are 26 countries with only one airport, including Gambia and Barbados.
  • There were 12 fatal commercial aircraft accidents in 2022, causing a total of 229 deaths.
  • Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport managed to host 969 take-offs and landings within 24 hours, setting a new record.
  • Princess Juliana International Airport in Saint Martin is one of the most challenging airfields to land a plane. The airport is extremely close to Maho Beach, and the runway is short and close to the water. 
  • Antarctica has 20 airports, but they all have limited and non-public access.
  • Airports in London, Dubai, and Singapore are among the most secure in the world.
  • Although it’s difficult to know for sure, North Korea has 78 usable airfields, all of which are restricted to tourists.
  • Although most airports have only one or two runways for take-off and landing, there are airports with more than four runways. Chicago airport has eight operational runways.
AirportsNumber of Runways
Chicago O’Hare International8
Dallas-Ft. Worth International7
Denver International6
Boston Logan International6
Detroit Metropolitan6
  • Yrausquin Airport is the world’s smallest commercial airport, located on the island of Saba in the Caribbean, having the shortest commercial runway with a length of 1,312 feet (400 m).


Are airplanes safer than cars?

Yes, airplanes are safer than cars. The probability of dying in a car accident is 2.2K times higher than in a plane crash.

Can airplanes fly in thunderstorms?

Yes, airplanes can fly in thunderstorms. Pilots will always try to avoid the storm by hovering above or around it, but if they do encounter a thunderstorm, aircraft can still withstand a lightning strike.

How are airplanes made?

The aircraft are engineered with high precision technology in special workshops, and the materials used in the process are mostly titanium, steel, and aluminum.

What airplanes are flying above me?

The most popular aircraft are the Airbus A330, Boeing 777, and Airbus A320.

When were airplanes invented?

The first airplane was invented in the United States of America in 1903 and was nicknamed “Wright Flyer.” During its first flight, it covered 121 feet (36 m) and landed after 12 seconds.

When was the first airplane crash?

The first airplane crash was five years after its invention, in 1908 in Virginia, USA.

Which airline has the most cancellations?

American Airlines has canceled the most flights among major US carriers with over 19K cancellations. It’s followed by Southwest Airlines at 17K+ cancellations.

Who invented the airplane?

The first airplane design was invented by Wilbur and Orville Wright, also known as the Wright brothers, on December 17, 1903.

Why do airplanes fly so high?

Aircraft fly at an altitude of ~30,000 feet (9.1 km) for several reasons, but mostly to improve fuel efficiency, thus reducing costs, and to avoid air traffic problems.

Why must airplanes wait on the runway?

Planes must wait before taking off because they need permission from the control tower. The air-control operators must ensure no aircraft is scheduled to land so that the take-off can be carried out with maximum safety.

Stacking It All Up

There you have it!

A comprehensive 50+ surprising facts and statistics about airplanes for 2023.

Let us know in the comments if there are any other facts or statistics about airplanes you’d like to discover.

Fair Use Statement

Did you like our infographics? If so, feel free to share them with your audience. Just remember to mention the source and link back to this page.