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1 SUMMARY Airports and the Newest Generation of Aviation Aircraft, Volume 1: Forecast A primary goal of ACRP Project 10-04 is to produce 5- and 10-yr fleet forecasts for the next-generation small general aviation (GA) aircraft. The baseline year is 2007, thus produc- ing forecasts for the years 2012 and 2017. A key related requirement is to assess how the use of these aircraft will impact airports across the United States. There are two major potential market segments for use of such aircraft: (1) traditional GA use, including personal, business, and corporate demand (including fractional ownership), and (2) commercial charter or air taxi use. The latter category includes both traditional charter use as well as "on demand per seat" services that have been widely discussed in the industry. These two segments are analyzed separately and with different techniques. The forecast results are shown in Table 1. The sales forecast for the GA segment projects that approximately 1,650 very light jets (VLJs) may be sold for use in the United States by 2012; by 2017, this total is projected to grow to around 3,500. The air taxi forecast projects 751 VLJs by 2012 plus more than 400 new low-cost piston aircraft that may be used for air taxi services. By 2017, the cumulative air taxi VLJ fleet may total more than 1,300, with about half that number added to the air taxi piston fleet. The air taxi forecast in particular is inherently speculative, and both parts of the forecast were completed prior to the major economic downturn in late 2008 as well as recent industry developments, including the bankruptcies of air taxi operator DayJet and VLJ manufacturer Eclipse Aviation. The overall level of activity at small airports is not likely to be affected much by VLJs that are purchased for traditional GA use because their main effect will be a simple displacement Table 1. Projected cumulative U.S. fleet additions of small GA aircraft from 2007. 2012 2017 GA Use - Total 11,279 25,179 VLJ 1,647 3,547 Other 9,632 21,632 Air Taxi Use - Total 1,188 1,967 Piston 539 Turboprop 13 31 Light Jet 12 39 VLJ 751 1,305 VLJ Total 2,398 4,852
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2 of sales that would have gone to other small GA aircraft instead. On the other hand, the analysis indicates that sales of VLJs (and low-cost piston aircraft) for air taxi use are likely to displace automobile and commercial air traffic, leading to substantial increases in activity at certain airports that handle large numbers of the new air taxi services. But overall, the pro- jected increase in operations by 2017 at "VLJ-ready" airports relative to 2007 is relatively modest, on the order of 6%.