FAA forecast shows growth in turbine planes and sport pilots

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The long-term outlook for general aviation is favorable, even though the slow growth of the U.S. economy has affected near-term growth, according to the FAA, which released its forecasts for the years 2014 to 2034 today.

According to the forecast, the growth in numbers of aircraft and hours flown will be primarily in the turbine-powered fleet.

FAA forecasts are behind a year because data for 2013 is not available at the time the agency makes it forecasts.

Between 2010 and 2012, the number of active general aviation aircraft went down by 6.4% from 223,370 to 209,034. Assuming a similar decline in 2013 as a result of cleaning up from the re-registration and renewal registry, the GA active fleet is estimated to have decreased 3% in 2013 to 202,865.

Flight hours for 2013 based on the active fleet and other indicators were 24 million, a decline of 1.8% from the previous year.

The active GA fleet is projected to increase at an average annual rate of 0.5% over the 21-year forecast period, growing from 202,865 in 2013 to 225,700 by 2034.

The more expensive and sophisticated turbine-powered fleet — including rotorcraft — is projected to grow to a total of 49,565 aircraft at an average rate of 2.6% a year over the forecast period. The turbine jet portion is expected to increase 3% a year, reaching 22,050 by 2034.

Piston-powered aircraft — including rotorcraft — are projected to decrease at an average annual rate of 0.3% from a 2013 total of 141,325 to 131,615 by 2034. Declines are expected in both single and multi-engine fixed-wing aircraft, but rotorcraft are expected to grow at 1.7% a year.

FAA also sees a growth in the light-sport category of general aviation. This is expected to increase by 4.1% yearly to 4,880 aircraft.

GA hours flown are forecast to increase by 1.4% yearly.

The number of GA pilots is projected to be 484,425 in 2034 — up 0.4% yearly — an increase of more than 35,000 over the forecast period.


  1. Norman says

    Complaining here does not convince AOPA and EAA to do something. One must pressure them directly. A letter writing campaign to the presidents of both organizations and to your congress person will be much more effective. I’ve read that airports won’t provide mogas because of the fear factor of liability. A law exempting mogas law suits would be better.

    My airport here in Florida won’t install the extra tanks and a pump for mogas because it’s too expensive. I think it’s because like the rest of the county government, they just don’t want to.. An airport I fly out of in Michigan (RMY) during the summer, has sold mogas at a fair price for several years with good sales results . It has helped the airport recover from a long slump. I used it almost exclusively in my Cessna 120 with good results.

    I think we need to target the correct audience. I hope everyone here has written his/her senators and congress persons regarding the General Aviation Pilot Protection Act. If it passes both houses and becomes law, it will be the most significant improvement to General Aviation in years.

  2. says

    OK. So, FAA is again showing their squinty smile while announcing yet another rosy growth prediction. And just yesterday, a fox in a henhouse also smiled while predicting robust health for all local chickens.

    GA (and the rest of the Public) deserves much better than this from the world’s most powerful denier of drone permits.

  3. says

    The fabled inaccuracy of the FAA’s annual projections notwithstanding, if we take the latest one at face value the long-term outlook for GA may be good for the turbine segment of GA. However, the FAA projection for a very modest increase in the number of personal flyers is suspect. All of the trend lines are down-and-to-the-right: number of new personal flyers, total number of personal flyers, total single-engine-piston aircraft, hours flown, etc.

    AOPA, EAA, FAA and the other alphabet aviation organizations are still doing the same things that have shown to be ineffective in reducing, let alone stopping, the rapid decline in personal flying. We need a new approach or there will be no personal flying in the U.S. in the not-too-distant future!

  4. unclelar says

    It’s a crying shame that EAA and AOPA won’t get behind an effort to make non-ethanol 91 grade mogas available to more of us. Especially the EAA. I can understand this is a low priority with AOPA since they are the country-club turbine folks. Then there’s EAA which is supposed to represent us little guys. Heck, the RV Demo Team wasn’t even invited to perform at OSH this year. Think about it, the quintessential home built that is in many ways homebuilding aviation not even invited to the homebuilder’s convention. Well, at least I have my little cheesey plaque that EAA gave me for being a lifetime member.

  5. Kent Misegades says

    This is a forecast from the same federal government that still believes in the man-made climate change hoax, that the Great Recession ended in 2009, that the economy is doing well, and that predicted a mild winter. Go visit any rural GA airport on a Saturday and ask real pilots, mechanics, flight school owners, etc. their opinion. Turbine aircraft are great tools for businesses, so they really don’t count. LSA is indeed the only bright spot among a fleet of aging aircraft. One report claims our fleet of essentially hangar queens is now 48 years old, on average! If we do not lower costs, it’s over. Mogas would do that overnight, but the FAA is leading the charge of the alphabets against it. They’ll kill off recreational flying just like they killed off ultralights a few years ago. If they could stop homebuilts, they’d do it too.

    • Greg W says

      Kent, mogas is indeed the quickest way to reduce cost, operation and maintenance as well. We as pilots and small operators can effect the change ourselves with the local airport politics as the main hurdle,sometimes you just have to go around them. West of the Mississippi Marathon sells “recreational” gasoline, it is premium without the ethanol added, at about the same cost as standard premium auto gas. We have help with the no ethanol battle in that the boaters and other recreational users want it as well and so the marketers make it available. I do find it sadly funny that EAA does not seem to want to promote the use of mogas and yet will take your money with out hesitation for the STC from them. Of course always check,(test), for ethanol when getting fuel just to make sure, but is is still out there and getting easier to find in my area,(Mich.).

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