GA Growth Could Bring Crowded Skies...

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And Concerns About Saturation

While it was a reference to user fees that drew quick GA response after last week's FAA Forecast Conference, the meeting also focused on the expected growth of all facets of aviation, with 20,000 more GA aircraft expected to join the fleet over the next 12 years -- 4,500 of them very-light jets (VLJs). Another fundamental shift is the increased use of jet charters by business folk avoiding the hassles of airline flight. "Aviation as we've seen it traditionally is going away," FAA spokesman Greg Martin told USA Today. While concerns center on the overcrowding of the airspace system, the fact is that thousands of airports across the country currently are underutilized, says Vern Raburn, CEO of Eclipse Aviation. That's where he expects the VLJs will be going. Eclipse still has a distance to go before those new jets are in the system, with deliveries expected to start in 2006. Flight testing is in progress, and the Pratt & Whitney Canada PW610F engines are working great, the company says. Cessna also projects that deliveries of its popular Citation Mustang will begin sometime next year.