Australia is as large as the continental US, but with 1/15th the population. An extensive network of airports services major cities, regional centers, island resorts and remote mining communities. In addition to civil aviation services carrying fare-paying passengers between these airports, there are also recreational, tourism, freight, charter, agricultural, training, executive jet, private/business use, aeromedical, fire-fighting, space and border patrol activities. This excludes extensive military usage.

There are 15,219 aircraft on Australia’s civil aviation register of which 11,520 are powered aircraft; 2,089 are helicopters; 1,229 are gliders; and 381 are lighter than air. There are over 700 design, maintenance, maintenance training, parts manufacturing and parts distribution organizations.

Australia has extensive manufacturing, repair and maintenance capacities including sizeable investments by Boeing, Raytheon, Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin and BAE Systems. Boeing Australia is Boeing’s largest operational footprint outside the US. The US is both the largest supplier [USD 212 million] and Australia’s largest export market [USD 657 million] for aviation products [item code 88].

QANTAS is Australia’s largest commercial carrier with Virgin Australia its key domestic competitor. International services include the world’s longest direct commercial service –Sydney to Dallas-Fort Worth.

​Market Entry 

A Free Trade Agreement has been in place since January 2005 and a Bilateral Aviation Safety Agreement came into effect on 28 November 2006. Under this agreement Australia accepts certain FAA approvals and the US imports certain aeronautical products designed and manufactured in Australia.

Current Market Trends 

Australian imports [item 88] declined to USD 216 million in 2013. The United States dominate with approximately 50 per cent market share. The helicopter fleet is huge and growing. UAVs are appearing, especially in agriculture. Australia’s high labor costs and strong currency are a challenge to Australia’s domestic industry capabilities and repair and maintenance services for example are increasingly performed overseas. 

​Current Demand 

Over the next ten years QANTAS has committed to about AUD 17 billion for more fuel efficient, next generation aircraft such as the Airbus 380 and the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. In 2012 Australian airports facilitated 1.43 million aircraft movements and 141 million passenger movements. A second major airport was announced for Sydney in April 2014. Construction will commence in 2016.

Best Prospects

Helicopters, UAVs, parts, repairs and maintenance.

Subsector Focus: Helicopters

Australia has a large civil helicopter fleet exceeding 2000, ranking 6th worldwide and equivalent to about ¾ that of Canada. When added to New Zealand’s fleet of about 900, the regional fleet of 3,000 ranks in the top 3 internationally. Bell and Robinson are established brands. Helicopters are well suited to support remote oil, gas and mining projects as well as island tourist resorts, aeromedical and rescue services. Large cattle stations use helicopters for mustering.


There are no barriers per se to importing aircraft into Australia from the U.S. but there are standards that apply to aircraft, covering local manufacture, importation, operation and maintenance.

Australia  Aerospace & Defense Market Summary