The Federal Aviation Administration projects growth over the next 20 years for both commercial aviation and general aviation.
On the passenger side, the FAA’s latest 20-year forecast calls for revenue passenger miles worldwide to grow by 2.6 percent a year through 2036.
It also says to expect continued solid profits for airlines with lower oil prices keeping operators costs lower, along with airfares that grow more slowly than inflation.
On the general aviation side, the FAA expects minimal fleet growth (which doesn’t account for replacement aircraft) and the projected number of general aviation hours flown to grow by 1.2 percent.
Wichita is home to one of the world’s major aerospace manufacturing clusters, where companies such as Spirit AeroSystems Inc. has work on all Boeing Co. programs and on multiple Airbus programs.
It is also home to Textron Aviation and its Cessna and Beechcraft divisions, as well as home to Bombardier Learjet.
But it won’t be any manned aircraft where the greatest growth is found, as the agency projects skyrocketing drone numbers in just the next four years alone.
The FAA forecasts the number of hobbyist drones to grow from 1.9 million to 4.3 million, sales of commercial drones to go from 600,000 to 2.7 million units and combined hobbyist and commercial sales to go from 2.5 million to 7 million units all by 2020.
The FAA’s full 20-year forecast is available on its website(PDF download).
Daniel McCoy covers aviation, manufacturing, automotive and Koch Industries.