THE US FEDERAL Aviation Administration is forecasting that the turbine-engined segment of the general-aviation (GA) fleet will continue to make gains at the expense of piston-engined aircraft - at least in the short term.

There were about 8,280 turbine-powered aircraft in the USA in 1995, according to the FAA General Aviation Forecasts. Projections are that there will be 9,900 turbine-engined aircraft by 2007.

By comparison, the piston-powered fleet is expected to slip over the next few years, from 138,909 to 132,700, before increasing by almost 1,000 aircraft annually as Cessna returns to piston-single manufacturing and a revived Piper Aircraft raises output.

The number of single-engine piston aircraft is expected to decline from 123,332 in 1995 to 117,800 in 1997, then increase to 126,400 by 2007. The multi-engine piston fleet is forecast to rise marginally, to 15,800, by 2007.

Overall, the situation was mixed in 1995. Shipments increased by 13%, to 980 units (505 piston aircraft, 234 turboprops and 241 jet-powered aircraft), with the rise occurring across all types, including piston-powered aircraft.

Billings rose for the third consecutive year, with sales of more- expensive aircraft allowing a one-third increase to about $3 billion.

Positive trends in 1995 included a 0.7% rise in the number of licensed business-aircraft pilots, reversing a three-year decline. The active GA fleet and the number of hours flown, continued to decline, however.

The FAA says that the situation should improve since "...the industry is riding a wave of optimism created by the passage of product-liability legislation in 1994".

Source: Flight International