FAA Predicts GA Growth Will Resume In 2010

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In its annual aviation forecast, released on Tuesday, the FAA said it expects U.S. aircraft operations to decrease almost 6 percent this year compared to 2008 levels but then start to rebound in 2010. Operations overall will then grow at about 1.5 percent per year through 2025, with general aviation growing slightly faster at 1.8 percent per year. The total GA fleet should continue to grow at the rate of about 1 percent per year. "A vibrant, efficient and green aviation system will play a key role in our nation's economic recovery," said U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood. The report noted that GA operations at combined FAA and contract towers were down 5.6 percent last year, the steepest decline since 2003. GA activity at consolidated traffic facilities (FAA TRACONs) fell 6.3 percent, while the number of GA aircraft handled at FAA en route centers decreased 7.6 percent. The number of student pilots decreased 4 percent in 2008, the fourth consecutive year of decline in this category. "The industry is trying to stimulate interest in flying, but the data suggest that more needs to be done," the report says. The FAA said that although this worldwide recession is one of the most severe downturns since the end of World War II, new federal stimulus packages and monetary policies are expected to turn the economy around in the second half of this year.