FAA Forecast Mixed For GA

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The FAA this week released its annual aviation forecast for the next 20 years, predicting growth for the turbine and rotorcraft fleets but downturns in sales of most fixed-wing piston airplanes. The business jet market grew in 2014 for the first time since 2008, and the forecast predicts "robust growth" in that sector over the long term, driven by higher corporate profits and the growth of worldwide GDP. The number of rotorcraft is expected to increase at a rate of 2.5 percent per year, and fixed-wing turbine aircraft will increase by 2.2 percent per year. The fixed-wing piston fleet is expected to decline by 0.6 percent per year, according to the FAA's estimates, but the light sport aircraft fleet will grow 4.3 percent per year, to a total of 5,360 LSAs flying by 2035.

Business use of GA piston aircraft is expected to grow faster than personal or recreational use, according to the forecast (PDF). Both student pilots and private pilots are expected to decrease at an annual rate of 0.3 percent, but the FAA expects the number of sport pilots to grow. As of the end of 2014, the number of sport pilot certificates issued was 5,157, reflecting steady growth since the sport pilot certificate was created in 2005. By 2035, the FAA said it expects a total of 14,950 sport pilots will be certified.