The US general aviation industry is predicted to grow at a slow, yet steady pace over the next decade, according to the Federal Aviation Administration's ninth annual forecast.

By the end of 2010, the Administration expects the GA fleet to increase at an annual rate of 1.1%, to more than 220,800 registered aircraft, compared with 192,414 at the end of 1997, the last year for which complete data is available.

The FAA expects the single-engined piston market to increase, from 140,000 in 1997, to around 158,800 by 2010, while turbine-powered aircraft numbers will grow at an annual rate of 2.7%, from 11,000 in 1997 to 15,300 during the same timeframe. New aircraft sales rose by 1,495 aircraft last year, a 55% gain on the previous year, according to the FAA.

The number of new student pilots grew by more than 3.1% between 1997 and 1998, while the figure for new private pilot licences soared by 23.9%, to 24,011. Last year's influx raised the pilot total to 618,298. The FAA predicts that an annual growth rate of 1.5% will further raise the number to 735,000 by the end of 2010. Pilots are expected to fly more than 34 million hours annually by 2010, up from 27.7 million in 1997.

• Business jet deliveries by US manufacturers reached record levels in the first three months of this year. Members of the US General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) shipped 107 corporate jets in the first quarter, compared with 67 in the same period last year.

Shipments of piston-powered aircraft remain steady, while deliveries of turboprop-powered aircraft fell slightly, according to GAMA's first-quarter figures.

Cessna led business jet shipments, delivering 45 aircraft, followed by Bombardier Learjet with 25, Gulfstream with 17, Raytheon with 13 and Boeing with seven. In billing terms, Gulfstream took the top position, with deliveries worth $571 million.

Source: Flight International