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FAA Releases Annual 20-Year Forecast

Projects Long-Term Future Growth In Commercial, GA Sectors

The FAA on Tuesday released its Annual Aerospace Forecast Fiscal Years 2012-2033 that provides a comprehensive examination of current and future trends in air transportation. The comprehensive report looks at all aspects of aviation including the numbers of flights, commercial airline passenger totals, aircraft fleet size, private flying, and international travel.

The FAA uses the forecast to determine how best to devote its workforce and resources, and the aviation community also uses the forecast for planning and investments.

In the report, the FAA says as the economy recovers from "the most serious economic downturn and slow recovery in recent history," aviation will continue to grow over the long run. Fundamentally, demand for aviation is driven by economic activity. As the economy returns to growth, so will aviation. The 2013 FAA forecast calls for U.S. carrier passenger growth over the next 20 years to average 2.2 percent per year, compared to last year’s forecast growth of 2.6 percent per year. After another year of slow or no growth this year, growth over the next five years will be slightly higher than the long run rate as we assume the U.S. economy grows at a faster rate. This delayed trajectory represents the downward adjustments of the overall economy, here in the U.S. and abroad, and of the aviation sector response.

System capacity in available seat miles (ASMs) – the overall yardstick for how busy aviation is both domestically and internationally – is projected to shrink by 0.1 percent this year after posting a 0.1 percent increase in 2012; it will then grow at an average annual rate of 2.9 percent through 2033. In the domestic market, capacity growth hovers around zero for the second year in a row. Domestic capacity is projected to grow at an average annual rate of 2.1 percent for the remainder of the forecast period. Domestic mainline carrier capacity will not increase in 2013 after increasing 0.7 percent in 2012. For the regional carriers, domestic capacity growth is also projected to be flat in 2013 after declining 4.3 percent in 2012. Commercial air carrier domestic revenue passenger miles (RPMs) are forecast to increase 0.7 percent in 2013, and then grow at an average of 2.2 percent per year through 2033; domestic enplanements in 2013 will decrease 0.1 percent, and then grow at an average annual rate of 2.0 percent for the remainder of the forecast.

Although the slow growth of the U.S. economy and the European recession has dampened the near term prospects for general aviation, the long-term outlook remains favorable. The FAA said in the report that it expects to see growth in business aviation demand over the long term driven by a growing U.S. and world economy especially in the turbo jet, turboprop and turbine rotorcraft markets. As the fleet grows, the number of general aviation hours flown is projected to increase an average of 1.5 percent a year through 2033.

FMI: Read the Report

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