FAA Numbers: Uptick Due Next Year

"The industry is trying to stimulate interest in flying, but the data suggest that more needs to be done." That may be an understatement, but the FAA's annual aviation forecast, released last week, included this bit of wisdom. What's encouraging is that the tone of the statement-and the attitude apparent throughout the rest of the report-bode well for general aviation's future. The agency still sees the downward trend continuing through this year, with overall operations (including airlines) expected to decrease by 6 percent compared to pre-meltdown 2008 numbers. GA ops are even worse, with operations at the en route ATC centers down 7.6 percent. For the fourth year in a row, student pilot numbers are down-this time by 4 percent. But next year we bounce back, according to the FAA forecast, or at least we start to climb up off the canvas. Overall aircraft operations are expected to increase by 1.5 percent annually through 2025. General aviation is expected to do even better, with growth on the order of 1.8 percent per year. The fleet is expected to increase in size by 1 percent per year through that 15-year time frame. It helps lighten our hearts to hear the words of Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood: "A vibrant, efficient and green aviation system will play a key role in our nation's economic recovery." Let's hope someone besides those of us in the choir is listening.