Whenever he thought about it, he felt terrible. And so, at last, he came to a fateful decision. He decided not to think about it. ~John-Roger and Peter McWilliams
Question #32141 posted on 01/13/2007 3:01 a.m.
Q:

Dear 100 Hour Board,

How many airplanes are in the air at any given time? How about during busy hours?

Yours Truly,
Frequent Flyer

A: Dear Frequent Flyer,

According to the FAA 2005 Annual Performance Report, there are about 7,000 aircraft in the air at any given time. It appears that this includes military as well as commercial aircraft. Almost two million passengers travel by air each day, and the FAA expects that number to approach 3 million by 2015.

As far as busy hours, one of the goals of the FAA and of air traffic controllers is to keep air traffic as efficient and uneventful as possible. That means keeping things pretty regular, weather permitting. So, at times when a lot of people are likely to fly (like right before Christmas), they generally keep the same number of planes in the air, they just charge a lot more for it, and you have to make your reservation pretty far in advance.

-TheGoldenMean