All indicators show that air travel in the U.S. is strong, and according to the FAA Aerospace Forecast Fiscal Years 2018-2038, the trend will continue.
The FAA forecasts that the number of U.S. airline passengers will increase from 840.8 million in 2017 to 1.28 billion in 2038, a growth of more than 50%. Domestic enplanements are set to increase 4.7% in 2018 and then grow at an average rate of 1.7% per year during the remaining 20-year forecast period. International enplanements are expected to increase 5% in 2018 and then grow an average of 3.3% until 2038.
The FAA forecasts U.S. airline system revenue passenger miles to grow at an average rate of 2.5% per year from 2017 through 2038, with international growth projected to have average annual increases of 3.2% per year during the forecast period.
A key to meeting this growth in air travel, while maintaining high levels of safety and efficiency, is to ensure the necessary infrastructure to meet demand is present. Underscoring this point, the FAA forecasts total landings and takeoffs at FAA and contract towers to reach 51.0 million in 2018, growing to 60.5 million in 2038.
The forecast also highlights the phenomenal growth in the use of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS). The FAA expects UAS to more than double over five years, from an estimated 1.1 million vehicles in 2017 to more than 2.4 million in 2022. The commercial, small non-model UAS fleet is set for even more prodigious growth, going from 110,604 drones in 2017 to 451,800 in 2022.