It's been an exciting year for
aviation and 2006 looks to be a break-out year. The aviation market seems to be moving in two opposite directions.
First of all there are the megaplanes, led by the behemoth doubledecker Airbus A380
and the Boeing 777. These larger planes lead to the need
for increased runway size. In fact several airports have had to lengthen runways in order to accommodate the A380. And
while they are making the runways larger they are also making the airports more luxurious as well, adding additional
features like better restaurants, spas, luxury
and lounges worthy of wiling away a few hours.
On the flip side are the little planes: the Eclipse
, the Mustang, the Adam A700
, and the Javelin
are just some of the planes we have been
tracking and which should end up taking to the skies in large numbers in 2006. Because many of these planes are
geared for short distances we could see a rise in air taxi services and private ownership. There has already been an
increase in private plane clubs. Fractional ownership, which we noticed was big last year, has increased even more and
we have also seen the rise of fractional clubs for those who are interested in being pilots instead of passengers (a
trend born out by celebrities likeAngelina
taking to the skies). All this small jet activity has also led to the rise of more and more private airports,
posh private hangars with amenities that resemble boutique hotels and even homes which are designed so that you can park
your plane in the driveway.
What's in the future? As we've seen by the latest moves from Richard Branson and
space flight is definitely on tap for the next
few years. "Space tourism" is currently still pricey but it is expected that the prices will fall eventually.
And with the creation of the Rocket Racing League, we may well have NASCAR in the skies. But what I am really excited
about for next year is the VTOL, that is the Vertical Take Off and Landing vehicles. The most-talked about is the Moller Skycar
which made the pages of
the Neiman Marcus Christmas Book
season but there are other vehicles such as the Bell/Augusta "impossicopter"
that offer the advantages of a plane and a
helicopter. And NASA is still offering that $250,000 prize for a flying car
. Could this
be the year of the flying car? Let me know your predictions for 2006 in the skies.