FAA Releases Aerospace Forecast for Next Two Decades

The Federal Aviation Administration recently published its annual aerospace forecast for the next 20 years, which includes fiscal years 2013-2033. To read the entire report, click here.

Below is an excerpt of the report that focused on general aviation.

“General aviation industry began to show signs of recovery in 2012, especially with strong growth in rotorcraft and the agricultural aircraft segment of the turboprop deliveries, as well as a modest growth in the single-engine piston sector.

Slow economic recovery and economic uncertainties continued to impact the turbojet and multi-engine piston deliveries. Based on figures released by the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA), U.S. manufacturers of general aviation aircraft delivered -1,514 aircraft in CY 2012, 3.3 percent more than CY 2011. This translates into the second year of increase in shipments.

Data were revised from all segments, but most significantly from agricultural aircraft producers. This revealed an increase of 9.8 percent in total deliveries in CY 2011, as opposed to a decline as previously estimated.

Overall piston deliveries remained in essence flat with an increase of 0.3 percent, with single-engine deliveries up 0.9 percent and the much smaller multi-engine category down 6.0 percent. In the turbine categories, revised data showed turbojet deliveries did not fall in 2011 and were in fact unchanged. However, the latest available data recorded a decline of 4.7 percent in 2012.

According to the revised GAMA data, turboprop deliveries were up by 76.3 percent in 2011 and continued to increase by an estimated 16.2 percent in 2012, even though a substantial portion of the deliveries were for the export market. U.S. billings in CY 2012 were totaled $8.0 billion, down 3.0 percent compared with 2011.

General Aviation operations at combined FAA and contract towers increased 0.6 percent in 2012, led by a 1.5 percent increase in local operations despite a fall in itinerant operations. General aviation activity at consolidated traffic facilities (FAA TRACONs) fell 0.6 percent, while the number of general aviation aircraft handled at FAA en-route centers declined by 1.3 percent.

The FAA uses estimates of fleet size, hours flown and utilization from the General Aviation and Part 135 Activity Survey (GA Survey), which has been conducted annually since 1977, as baseline figures upon which assumed growth rates are applied. The results of 2011 survey were not available to use as the basis for our forecast this year. Therefore, estimates of 2011 fleet and hours were based on estimated number of general aviation aircraft in the FAA civil aircraft registration database by the end of CY 2011, and past rates of active aircraft and utilization by type of aircraft and age of the fleet.

Based on the latest FAA assumptions about fleet attrition and aircraft utilization along with General Aircraft Manufacturer’s Association (GAMA) aircraft shipment statistics, the active general aviation fleet is estimated to have decreased 1.2 percent in 2011, and remained unchanged in 2012 at 220,670. With the decrease in the active fleet, general aviation flight hours are estimated to have decreased 0.9 percent in 2011 and were flat in 2012 with a scant increase of 0.1 percent at 24.6 million.

Student pilots are important to general aviation and the aviation industry as a whole. Student pilot numbers had been in decline for many years but in 2010 the FAA issued a rule that increased the duration of validity for student pilot certificates for pilots under the age of 40 from 36 months to 60 months. As a result, according to statistics compiled by the FAA’s Mike Monroney Aeronautical Center, the number of student pilots at the end of 2010 increased by 64.8 percent, or approximately 47,000 pilots, compared to calendar year end 2009. While the impact of the new rule on the long term trend in student pilots has yet to be fully determined, by the end of 2012, the number of student pilots increased by 1.1 percent from its 2011 level to 119,946. The average age of a U.S. pilot in 2012 was 44.7 years old.”