MONITOR Digest on Air Transport Future Studies

Since the invention of the jet aircraft, air traffic has grown with high rates and with respect to the meanwhile dominant international air transport as part and as a driver for an increasing globalisation of the world. There is also a high potential for a further significant increase of air transport, if more nations will economically develop during the next decades. Statements on the future development of the air transport sector are required for various purposes and are also essential for strategic planning of the air transport infrastructure (airports and air traffic control) and quantifying potential environmental impacts caused by air transport.

This part of the MONITOR portal was designed to address the progress in the air transport sector and hint at new trends within the air transport system. For this purpose some selected, recently published future studies on worldwide air transport are presented.

Overview on global long-term air transport future studies
Publisher Titel Date of
Purpose of the study Time horizon Number of
Airbus Global Market Forecast 2013 Aeroplane market forecast 2012-2032 1
Boeing Current Market Outlook 2013 Aeroplane market forecast 2012-2032 1
ICAO Global Air Transport Outlook to 2030 2013 General development forecast 2011-2030 1
ICAO CAEP CAEP/9 Air Traffic Forecast 2013 Basis for environmental investigations 2010-2050 3
DLR CONSAVE 2050 2006 Identification of future challenges 2005-2050 4

The long term development of the air transport system can either be described by forecasts or by scenarios. The main characteristic of a forecast is trying to predict an event, a condition or a development. For the elaboration of a forecast data have to be collected, prepared and set with one another in relationship, in order to be able to derive patterns and principles. These principles can be used to create predictions about future developments and are therefore usually mirrored in mathematical models.

Scenarios on the other hand are combinations of consistent assumptions on the development in key fields for the scenario subject. Especially for complex systems it is difficult and - with increasing time horizons - almost impossible to predict the future. Consequently scenarios are not intending to be forecasts. But they rather describe possible alternative images of how the future might unfold and the paths leading to these futures. To reach this purpose it is tried to apply as much available relevant information on the future development as possible. Characteristically, scenarios are hypothetical and based on a range of assumptions [Wilson 1978]. Scenarios should be holistic and include the system environment. In a scenario process several alternative scenarios are created. The scenario storylines should consider relevant drivers and major developments. There should be no contradictions in a scenario which means that storylines and assumptions need to be consistent.

Descriptions of recent studies on the long-term development of the air transport system can be found on the following sites:
  1. Long-term forecasts on global air transport development
  2. Long-term scenarios on global air transport development