The FAA predicted that GA growth will resume in 2010, in the annual forecast it released March 31. The report was headlined: “Aviation Activity to Resume Growth as Economy Returns” and was generally positive about GA throughout, a little less so about commercial airlines.
While the report predicted that aircraft operations will decrease almost 6% this year compared to 2008 levels, it said they should start to rebound in 2010. Operations then will grow at about 1.5% per year through 2025, with general aviation growing slightly faster than that average at 1.8% per year. The total GA fleet should continue to grow at the rate of about 1% per year, the report stated.
All of that was in sharp contrast to 2008. The report said that GA operations at combined FAA and contract towers were down 5.6% last year, the steepest decline since 2003. GA activity at consolidated traffic facilities – TRACONs – fell 6.3%, while the number of GA aircraft handled at FAA en route centers decreased 7.6% in 2008.
According to U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, “A vibrant, efficient and green aviation system will play a key role in our nation’s economic recovery. The Obama Administration is committed to essential safety and efficiency advancements that will meet our continued air travel demands.”
The forecast placed significant emphasis on the Next Generation Air Transportation System, or NextGen, describing it as “a key to transformation of the ground-based air traffic control radar system of today to a satellite-based system of the future and necessary for FAA to meet the safety, efficiency and environmental needs of the future. The FAA estimates that the cost of delays currently averages approximately $9.4 billion each year. Environmentally-friendly NextGen technologies and procedures will increase capacity and safety and reduce fuel burn, carbon emissions, and noise.”
On the same day, the UBS Business Jet Market Index released a report saying that a trend that began three months ago moved up again in March, signaling that used jet sales may be on a rebound. While the index is still in negative territory, this “reflects a slower pace of deterioration,” the report said. On a scale of zero to 100, where anything above 50 indicates stable conditions, the latest index is at 25 whereas last November’s hit a record low of 13 and January’s score had risen to 20.
While the relatively few sales taking place are at heavily reduced prices, 26% of the UBS survey’s respondents reported an improvement in customer interest since the previous survey.
The FAA forecast can be found at: http://www.faa.gov/data_research/aviation/aerospace_forecasts/2009-2025/
A fact sheet on the forecast is available at: http://www.faa.gov/news/fact_sheets/news_story.cfm?newsId=10457
A fact sheet about NextGen can be found at: http://www.faa.gov/news/fact_sheets/news_story.cfm?newsId=8768