All key indicators suggest that the commercial airline and general aviation sectors will continue to enjoy strong growth, producing healthy civil aircraft sales well into the next century, the US Federal Aviation Administration says.

FAA Administrator Jane Garvey notes that last year marked the seventh consecutive year of growth for US carriers, and adds that "all signs point to continued strong growth".

The administration's forecasters project that, by 2010, the USA's airlines could be carrying 1 billion passengers a year - up by over 50% on the record 643 million carried last year, when US carriers generated $9.2 million in profits, a $1.3 billion improvement over 1997.

To accommodate the additional passengers, says the FAA, the US fleet will jump from 5,030 aircraft in 1998 to 7,165 in 2010, an annual increase of 3%.

The US regional fleet is similarly expected to grow from last year's 2,039 aircraft to 2,886 over the same period, while the general aviation fleet should jump from the present 194,800 machines to 220,800.

Source: Flight International