Hours flown by turbine aircraft (including rotorcraft) are forecast to increase 6.4 percent yearly over the forecast period, compared with 1.8 percent for piston-powered aircraft. Jet aircraft are forecast to account for most of the increase, expanding at an average annual rate of 10.2 percent over the next 12 years.
The large increases in jet hours result from the introduction of VLJs, as well as from increases in the fractional ownership fleet and its activity levels.
Fractional ownership aircraft fly about 1,200 hours annually compared with an average of roughly 350 hours for all business jets in all applications. “There is still a good deal of uncertainty about the utilization rates of the new microjets,” the FAA Office of Policy and Plans said in the forecast. “Some analysts believe the microjets used for on-demand air-taxi services could achieve utilization rates as high as 2,000 hours a year.”
However, the FAA believes that VLJ use rates will not be that high, but instead will be close to the rates of use by fractional operators. Nevertheless, the high rates of use are the primary driver behind the forecast increase in total hours flown.