Boeing has again upgraded its 20-year forecast for new-passenger aircraft demand in the fast-growing Indian market and is now predicting a requirement for more than 900 jets through 2027.

The airframe manufacturer says it expects Indian carriers will need 911 new aircraft valued at more than $86 billion during the period, up from 856 aircraft valued at more than $72 billion in last year's 20-year forecast.

"The increased projection is supported in part by robust economic growth, increasing demand for domestic and international air travel, and ongoing efforts within airlines to reduce costs and drive efficiencies within their operations," says the manufacturer.

Boeing expects a requirement over the 20-year period for 55 regional jets, 674 single-aisle aircraft, 173 twin-aisle aircraft seating up to 400 passengers and nine aircraft seating more than 400 passengers.

"The airplanes will be needed for future growth and fleet replacement," it says.

"The 2007 [forecast] projects that commercial airplanes in the 90- to 400-seat categories will account for most of the growth in air travel over the next 20 years, and airlines will continue to accommodate that growth by adding frequencies and point-to-point non-stop flights."

Boeing says the main increase over its previous forecast is in the twin-aisle category, rising to an expected requirement for 173 aircraft from last year's projection of 120 aircraft.

"The growth in the twin-aisle category is a reflection of the current and future demand for point-to-point regional and international travel," it says.

Airbus has been more bullish in its forecasts for the Indian market and has said it expects more new aircraft will be needed overall, including many more in the ultra-large category.

India's air transport market has been growing at phenomenal rates in recent years as new airlines have launched services and foreign carriers have been given more rights to serve the country, prompting Airbus and Boeing to revise their demand forecasts several times. India's airlines have ordered hundreds of new aircraft since 2004 as domestic traffic has grown at rates well above the world average.

For the 12 months ended 31 March 2007 domestic passenger numbers are estimated to have increased around 40% over the previous financial year, when India's airlines carried 25.2 million passengers. That compares with just 15.6 million domestic passengers carried in the 2003-4 financial year, when deregulation measures were introduced that led to the launch of many new airlines.

Boeing says it expects around 20% growth in Indian traffic annually over the next five years, after which it should stabilise at around 12% a year.