FAA's annual forecast, released Tuesday, predicts that air travel will more than double in the next 20 years and will reach the 1 billion passenger mark by 2021, two years earlier than foreseen in last year's projection.
DOT Secretary Ray LaHood issued a statement saying that the projection underscores the need to keep the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen) on track to accommodate future growth. FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt noted that, "We are already seeing the tangible safety and efficiency benefits of NextGen. Only a modernized air transportation system will be able to keep up with our forecasted demand."
The agency predicted that the number of passengers traveling on U.S. airlines will increase by 3.5 percent from last year to 737.4 million passengers in 2011. That figure is projected to grow an average of 2.8 percent each year during the remaining forecast period to 1.3 billion by 2031.
Total landings and takeoffs at FAA-towered airports are forecast to slightly decrease in 2011, and then grow at an average annual rate of 1.6 percent each year, reaching 69.4 million in 2031.
General aviation hours flown are forecast to increase from 24.1 million in 2010 to 37.8 million in 2031, an average annual growth rate of 2.2 percent a year.
To view a fact sheet of the agency's projections, go to https://www.faa.gov/news/fact_sheets/news_story.cfm?newsId=12440.