9:22 AM

Bad news, good news
out of FAA Conference

At the FAA’s 31st Forecast Conference this week in Washington, a report entitled FORECAST HIGHLIGHTS 2006-2017 has been released, and the picture is not good for commercial airline pax.

It is however, some very, very good news for those who build VLJs, because we all know that as airline service deteriorates, more and more smart flyers will shift towards on-demand air taxis, fractionals or outright personal air transportation ownership.

Here are some pull quotes from the report (link to the entire report below):

The size of domestic aircraft will decline this year by 1.4 seats. Legacy carriers continue to replace their wide-body and larger aircraft with smaller, narrow-body planes. Additionally, demand for 70-90 seat aircraft will continue to increase, which furthers the decline in the overall number of seats per aircraft.
And this gem about VLJs:
General aviation is expected to receive a boost from relatively inexpensive twin-engine microjets, which may redefine “on-demand” air taxi service. Next year, 100 microjets will join the fleet, growing to 400-500 per year through 2017. The number of general aviation hours flown will also increase by 3.2 percent per year through 2017.
Microjets? Isn’t the rest of the industry calling them Very Light Jets? It’s no wonder the mainstream media speaks of VLJs as if they were a bunch of “itty-bitty whittle jets” due to fill the sky soon.

And just how many of us will be crammed into those skinny coach seats:
An important yardstick, though, remains the number of passengers that traveled. Last year, that number was a record 739 million, up from 690 million the previous year. U.S. commercial aviation remains on track to carry one billion passengers by 2015.
David Stempler, president of the Air Travelers Association sums the Forecast Report up this way as he mulls the future:
"Fares will be down, crowds will be up, delays will be longer. You're more likely to be in the middle seat, or next to someone in the middle seat, or sitting at the gate because you got bumped off the airplane."
Great. Smaller seats, more people fighting for them. As it is now, commercial airline travel is such a joy. So like many others, I shall predict a continued boom for GA and business aviation, that is a no-brainer if there ever was one.

Here are all the links you need to follow the conference:

Main conference page

Forecast 2006-2017 - Full Report

FAA Conference fact sheet

FAA Administrator Marion Blakey’s remarks

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