Unemployment, deteriorating assets, reduced travel accounts, and budget-conscious consumers may have contributed to the economic downswing, but long-term, the aviation industry is set to grow says the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
According to FAA Administrator Randy Babbit, changes are expected over the next several years due to the rapid growth of international markets and large airports. In addition, the departure of smaller regional jets is anticipated with the continuing trend of larger regional jets to replace the fleet.
The FAA has pushed back, the announcement in the FAA Aerospace Forecast Fiscal Years 2011-2031, for one billion passenger flights to occur in the year 2021 to 2023. In spite of a reduction in passengers, air travel remains valuable to the public over the long-term.
Even during this period of economic recovery, environmental issues, fuel prices, declines in general aviation (GA) aircraft shipments for a third year running and major economic impact on the business jet market warrants caution over the forecast.
Economic maturity is encouraging growth in business aviation over the long-term. An anticipated increase in GA hours is at an average of 2.5 percent annually through the year 2030 in conjunction with a growing fleet. Stability depends on continuing growth in advanced productivity, the labor force and capital shares.
The average growth rate of commercial aircraft is forecast at 150 aircraft or 1.8 percent annually from 2009 to 2030. The number of mainline carrier passenger jets is forecast to increase by 40 aircraft in 2011 since decreasing by 17 aircraft in 2010 and 129 aircraft in 2009. This increase will average of 85 aircraft annually from 2010-2030. The FAA is confident in strong growth in the active GA fleet. This may be due to product offerings, business jet aircraft demands, foreign demand and the importance of corporate safety and security measures.
The conversion of the United States aviation system from radar to satellite-based systems, through the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen), helps passengers reach their destinations faster and safer with increased capacity. “We are already seeing the tangible safety and efficiency benefits of NextGen,” said FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt. “Only a modernized air transportation system will be able to keep up with our forecasted demand.”
After implementing NextGen throughout its network, Southwest Airlines estimates a savings of $60 million on fuel costs. This advanced technology benefits all by reducing noise, fuel, delays and emissions.