Understanding the bush flying industry...?

This forum has been developed to discuss Bush Flying & Specialty Air Service topics.

Moderators: ahramin, sky's the limit, sepia, Sulako, North Shore, Rudder Bug

Post Reply
Message
Author
User avatar
WastedFlyer
Rank 2
Rank 2
Posts: 55
Joined: Thu Mar 23, 2017 10:45 pm

Understanding the bush flying industry...?

#1 Post by WastedFlyer » Fri Apr 21, 2017 7:41 pm

Hello everyone… As some of you know already, I’m intent on becoming a bush pilot… I don’t personally know anyone in the “Bush Flying Industry”, though, so I only have a general idea of the operations (serving the resource industry, transporting cargo and people to/from places with difficult or non-existing road access, operating floatplanes or land aircraft from basic or makeshift airstrips, in areas with limited or non-existing navaid coverage…) Thus, I have quite a few questions about the “Bush Flying Industry”, particularly in British Columbia… I’d like to know, for example:

1. How many Bush Flying Operators (“companies”) are in BC, roughly? Would it be around 5-10, or more like (say) 20-50…?

2. What would be the typical size of a bush flying operation? I’m guessing 2 to 5 aircraft, typically 180/185, Beavers and the odd 206, and for staff I’d imagine 2 or 3 pilots plus 3-5 non-flying staff (dock hands, admin, etc.)

3. Area of operations: would a bush flying operator cover a whole province or multiple provinces? Or rather “specialize” in a smaller area, for example north Vancouver Island, Peace River, Kootenays, etc.

4. Likewise, do bush flying operators typically focus/specialize on one specific industry (for example, mining, forestry, gas/oil)? Or would they serve all industries without discrimination?

5. Floatplanes are definitely a big part of the bush flying industry, but what’s the proportion of floats vs land aircraft? Is it 80% floats vs 20% land aircraft? Or more like 50/50...?

6. Types: the 180/185 are perhaps the “kings of bush”, and the odd 206 is also used in the industry… Then there’s the Beaver, which is a bit of a notch above (bigger, more expensive and with a bigger cargo capacity I’d think) Are there any other ubiquitous aircraft types in the bush flying industry besides these, that I'm missing...?

7. Are bush flying operations mostly seasonal? (I would know the answer to that question if I knew more about the resources industries… I believe forestry is seasonal, oil/gas is most likely year-round, and I really don’t know about mining…)

8. How big a part of bush flying operations is the tourism industry? (transportation to remote fishing / hunting lodges etc.) I’d think it’s just a fraction (10% or so) but I may be wrong…

Just trying to have a better picture of the "industry"... Any insight on any of the above greatly appreciated! :)
---------- ADS -----------

BeaverDreamer
Rank 2
Rank 2
Posts: 86
Joined: Sun Jun 07, 2015 6:05 pm
Location: NWO

Re: Understanding the bush flying industry...?

#2 Post by BeaverDreamer » Sun Apr 23, 2017 9:47 am

1. How many Bush Flying Operators (“companies”) are in BC, roughly? Would it be around 5-10, or more like (say) 20-50…?

Definitely at least 20. You can look this up on Transport Canada's operator search.

2. What would be the typical size of a bush flying operation? I’m guessing 2 to 5 aircraft, typically 180/185, Beavers and the odd 206, and for staff I’d imagine 2 or 3 pilots plus 3-5 non-flying staff (dock hands, admin, etc.)

Pretty close I guess, but it varies a lot. In the summer months there will be more pilots than planes at a typical operator.

3. Area of operations: would a bush flying operator cover a whole province or multiple provinces? Or rather “specialize” in a smaller area, for example north Vancouver Island, Peace River, Kootenays, etc.

It varies a lot again. Most focus on the local area within a trips distance of their base.

4. Likewise, do bush flying operators typically focus/specialize on one specific industry (for example, mining, forestry, gas/oil)? Or would they serve all industries without discrimination?

Any work is good work.

5. Floatplanes are definitely a big part of the bush flying industry, but what’s the proportion of floats vs land aircraft? Is it 80% floats vs 20% land aircraft? Or more like 50/50...?

Varies a ton depending on area. But certainly not as high as 80% floats.

6. Types: the 180/185 are perhaps the “kings of bush”, and the odd 206 is also used in the industry… Then there’s the Beaver, which is a bit of a notch above (bigger, more expensive and with a bigger cargo capacity I’d think) Are there any other ubiquitous aircraft types in the bush flying industry besides these, that I'm missing...?

Otters and Caravans are very common in almost all areas of Canada. Most operators run at least one of these, or wish they did. Navajos, Islanders, and other 6-9 seat twins are common (on wheels of course).

7. Are bush flying operations mostly seasonal? (I would know the answer to that question if I knew more about the resources industries… I believe forestry is seasonal, oil/gas is most likely year-round, and I really don’t know about mining…)

Mostly yes. Some shut down entirely for the winter, but some are year round.

8. How big a part of bush flying operations is the tourism industry? (transportation to remote fishing / hunting lodges etc.) I’d think it’s just a fraction (10% or so) but I may be wrong…

Very large in certain areas. More like 80-90% if you include hunting/fishing operations in places.

Everything varies a ton from area to area and operator to operator, difficult to answer these questions accurately.
---------- ADS -----------

User avatar
WastedFlyer
Rank 2
Rank 2
Posts: 55
Joined: Thu Mar 23, 2017 10:45 pm

Re: Understanding the bush flying industry...?

#3 Post by WastedFlyer » Mon Apr 24, 2017 9:48 am

Thank you so much BeaverDreamer for your insight and info, really appreciated! :)

One question: when you say that "In the summer months there will be more pilots than planes at a typical operator", why is that...? Is it because there's so much round-the-clock activity that one pilot per airplane couldn't cope, with the mandatory rest periods etc...? Just wondering...
---------- ADS -----------

BeaverDreamer
Rank 2
Rank 2
Posts: 86
Joined: Sun Jun 07, 2015 6:05 pm
Location: NWO

Re: Understanding the bush flying industry...?

#4 Post by BeaverDreamer » Mon Apr 24, 2017 6:29 pm

WastedFlyer wrote:Thank you so much BeaverDreamer for your insight and info, really appreciated! :)

One question: when you say that "In the summer months there will be more pilots than planes at a typical operator", why is that...? Is it because there's so much round-the-clock activity that one pilot per airplane couldn't cope, with the mandatory rest periods etc...? Just wondering...
Believe it or not some operators give their pilots days off once in a while! At least that's what I hear :smt040
---------- ADS -----------

User avatar
WastedFlyer
Rank 2
Rank 2
Posts: 55
Joined: Thu Mar 23, 2017 10:45 pm

Re: Understanding the bush flying industry...?

#5 Post by WastedFlyer » Tue Apr 25, 2017 12:34 am

:D

I was digging into TC's Operator Search as suggested and found a wealth of information, which I thought I'd share in case anyone else is interested:

There are 142 CAR 702 operators in BC, of which 76 are Helicopter operations and about 14 are obviously non-bush (flying schools, skydiving, advertising, etc.). That leaves 51 operations that are most likely "bush" proper. Of those operators, 25 are "Float Operators" (so we can say that floats are roughly 50% of the business). These 51 operators own a total of 186 aircraft, as follows:

35 C185
32 DHC2
20 C206
19 C182
18 C172
11 PA31
9 C180
6 C210
36 Other types (C208s, DHC3s, PA18s, PA28s, BN2As and other oddities)

Typically the operations have 3 - 5 aircraft of two different types (for example 2 C185 and 2 DHC2). 10 operators own just 1 aircraft (so I assume these 10 are one-person companies)

That's just CAR 702 though, perhaps I should include CAR 703 too? Would CAR 703 (Air taxi) fall into the realm of "bush flying"...?
---------- ADS -----------

goingnowherefast
Rank 8
Rank 8
Posts: 839
Joined: Wed Mar 13, 2013 9:24 am

Re: Understanding the bush flying industry...?

#6 Post by goingnowherefast » Tue Apr 25, 2017 4:28 am

The vast majority of "bush" flying is done under 703. Very very small percentage is 702.
---------- ADS -----------

BeaverDreamer
Rank 2
Rank 2
Posts: 86
Joined: Sun Jun 07, 2015 6:05 pm
Location: NWO

Re: Understanding the bush flying industry...?

#7 Post by BeaverDreamer » Tue Apr 25, 2017 12:55 pm

goingnowherefast wrote:The vast majority of "bush" flying is done under 703. Very very small percentage is 702.
True. But the majority of 703 operators also hold 702.
---------- ADS -----------

User avatar
WastedFlyer
Rank 2
Rank 2
Posts: 55
Joined: Thu Mar 23, 2017 10:45 pm

Re: Understanding the bush flying industry...?

#8 Post by WastedFlyer » Wed Apr 26, 2017 10:15 pm

BeaverDreamer wrote:
goingnowherefast wrote:The vast majority of "bush" flying is done under 703. Very very small percentage is 702.
True. But the majority of 703 operators also hold 702.
Indeed... So I added the 19 CAR 703 operators which weren't already in the 702 list (which also included 703) and this is what I got:

70 operators (702 and/or 703) in BC, of which 39 are float-certified (56%)

224 total aircraft, as follows:

42 Beavers
39 C185
21 C206
20 C172
19 C182
15 C180
14 PA31
6 C210
5 PA18
4 PA23/PA24/PA28
39 Other assorted types (DHC3, C207, C208, BTN2, etc.)

19 of the 70 operators are "one-aircraft" companies

So there... Just sharing :)
---------- ADS -----------

Post Reply

Return to “Bush Flying & Specialty Air Service”