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updated: 3/1/2011 5:22 PM

Commercial flight hours may break 2008 record, Honeywell says

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Commercial passenger aircraft are set to break a 2008 record for worldwide flight-hours this year, partly because of international travel, a Honeywell International Inc. executive said.

"We are very much in the recovery of the commercial cycle," John Bolton, head of the company's commercial airlines unit, said in an interview yesterday.

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Honeywell, a maker of aviation instruments including so- called black-box recorders, based the projection on information from industry data provider OAG. Honeywell declined to give the flight-hour tally. OAG confirmed flight hours are set to reach a record, and Diana Cronan, a spokeswoman, said totals weren't immediately available.

Passenger traffic at airports around the world rose 6.9 percent in July, for a year-to-date increase of 5.9 percent, according to a report last week from Airports Council International. Boeing Co., the world's second-largest maker of commercial aircraft, said yesterday that passenger traffic so far is "very close or over" 2008 levels.

Scheduled flight-hours track flight time starting at pushback from the gate through return, said Karen Crabtree, a spokeswoman for Morris Township, New Jersey-based Honeywell. The data is for planes seating 70 passengers or more, she said.

Flight hours may be increasing as company representatives travel outside their countries to identify and tap new markets, Bolton said.

"I would think it's international, all of the international growth, the interconnectivity of the world and companies trying to grow, reaching out globally to find new markets and adjacencies," he said.

Emerging-market growth prospects remain "robust" even as advanced economies, led by the U.S., are slowing, Bank of America Merrill Lynch said in an e-mailed note this week. The bank reiterated a forecast for 6.1 percent expansion in emerging markets next year.

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