FAA Forecasts Steady but Slow Growth for GA

In the FAA's just-released Aerospace Forecast for the fiscal years 2015 through 2035 the agency expects steady growth in the general aviation sector with an average increase of 1.4 percent per year over the 20-year period.

According to the published FAA data, 2014 saw one percent growth in total GA shipments. The single-engine piston market grew by 6.2 percent compared with 2013, but the twin-piston segment saw a 10 percent drop. Business jet shipments were strong with a growth of 12.3 percent, the first increase in bizjet deliveries in the United States since 2008. The turboprop market saw an 11.2 percent drop after a strong year in 2013.

While the overall number of shipments increased, the utilization of GA aircraft declined. There was a 1.1 percent drop in GA activity at FAA and contract tower airports in 2014 and there has been a 7.8 percent drop in the number of GA flight hours in the recent past with single-engine piston aircraft accounting for the greatest decline from 12.2 million hours in 2010 to 10.7 million hours in 2013.

With a forecast overall growth of worldwide GDP, higher corporate profits, and concerns about safety, security and delays in commercial air travel, the outlook for general aviation foresees growth over the forecast period.

The active GA fleet is expected to grow at a rate of 0.4 percent per year, increasing from 198,860 airplanes in 2014 to 214,260 by 2035. The turbine-powered fleet is expected to see the greatest growth with an average rate of 2.4 percent per year to a total of 45,905 aircraft by the end of the period.

While the piston-powered fleet is forecast to decline from 139,890 in 2014 to 125,935 by 2035, the FAA projects the light-sport aircraft segment will grow by 4.3 percent per year for a total of 5,360 LSAs by 2035.

Utilization of GA aircraft is also expected to increase by 1.4 percent per year, with the greatest growth projected for jet aircraft at an annual rate of 3.6 percent.

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Pia Bergqvist joined FLYING in December 2010. A passionate aviator, Pia started flying in 1999 and quickly obtained her single- and multi-engine commercial, instrument and instructor ratings. After a decade of working in general aviation, Pia has accumulated almost 3,000 hours of flight time in nearly 40 different types of aircraft.

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