FAA Forecast Overshadowed by Funding Debate
DOT Secretary Mary Peters cautioned that aviation delays will grow without significant FAA funding reforms (read: user fees) as forecasters predict air traffic will increase by the equivalent of the traffic generated by two major hub airports each year through 2020. Speaking at the annual FAA Forecast Conference last Thursday, Peters noted that airline delays last year reached an all-time high. The FAA Aerospace Forecast Fiscal Years 2007-2020 predicts the business jet fleet will increase at a rate of 6 percent per year. The new very light jet (VLJ) segment could add another 500 aircraft a year to the active fleet by 2010. The forecast assumes that VLJs will begin to enter the active fleet this year (350 aircraft) and grow by 400 to 500 aircraft a year after that, reaching 6,300 aircraft by 2020. The number of jet aircraft hours flown is projected to expand at an average annual rate of 9.4 percent over the 14 years. The large increases in jet hours result from the introduction of VLJs, as well as increases in the fractional ownership fleet and its activity levels.