More Aircraft And Pilots To Come

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The state's Transportation Department, however, notes that Florida's aviation growth has exceeded the national average and fears too much of a good thing could cause problems. "Florida stands at the threshold of an exciting new era in aviation, an era full of promise but also with many potential pitfalls," the DOT says in a recent overview of projected growth through 2025. There are already 860 air facilities in the state, including heliports, glider ports and seaplane bases. The state is home to more than 14,000 aircraft, or 6 percent of the national GA fleet, and hosts 20 percent of the world's flight training. Population growth is expected to continue, especially among older migrants, and GA will grow as well. "A capacity crunch is imminent," the report warns. The report overall is upbeat about GA, recognizing its value for disaster relief and business support. The coming fleet of small jets will encourage more point-to-point travel, which is also seen as a plus for the business community. "Aviation is on the verge of dramatic changes that will have special benefits for Florida," the report says.

A Future Based On Access And Airports

Airports are now as vital to a region's growth and development as a central business district, the DOT report says. According to business researcher John Kasarda, "Airports will shape business location and urban development in this century as much as highways did in the 20th, railroads in the 19th and seaports did in the 18th centuries. The three 'As'-- accessibility, accessibility, accessibility -- will replace the three 'L's' -- location, location, location." With conference centers, hotels, music, shopping malls, office space, wineries, art galleries, and nearby housing for airport employees, some airports are taking over the traditional role of downtowns as the main center of urban life, the DOT says. Commercial and residential centers radiate from airports, and companies, increasingly reliant on air transportation to move people and goods quickly in a global economy, locate nearby.