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Business aviation regains optimism
Business aviation has been one of the
segments of the aerospace industry
hardest hit by the global nancial
crisis. And while the industry
overall hails signs of recovery, some
business aircra manufacturers are
still su ering.
On 21 September, US industrial giant Textron
reported that it is adjusting aircraft production
schedules and reducing the workforce at its Cessna
subsidiary, the maker of the Citation family of
business jets, "due to continued weakness in new
"While we are seeing solid performance in most of
our other businesses, we have not yet seen a discernible
improvement in business jet order activity," says
Textron Chairman and Chief Executive Officer
Scott Donnelly. " erefore, we are taking further
production and restructuring actions at Cessna."
e manufacturer had already su ered a good
deal during the worst recession in 70 years, thanks in
part to its heavy reliance on the hard-hit light-cabin
business jet sector.
In 2009, the company delivered just 275 aircra ,
compared with 340 the previous year. e company's
original projection for the year -- prior to the onset of
the recession -- had been for 525 deliveries. Company
President Jack Pelton has blamed both the economic
downturn and a ood of negative publicity focused
on business-jet use for the sales slump.
As a result, the Wichita, Kansas-based company was
forced to cut half its workforce and slash production
rates across its entire range of aircra . Sales were
further hurt by nose-diving prices for used aircra --
especially in the light and mid-size range.
Speaking earlier this year, Pelton predicted that
Cessna would deliver about 225 Citations and hoped
to see recovery in 2011.
Canadian manufacturer Bombardier, too, admits
it has endured its share of pain as cancellations
industry-wide exceeded gross orders in 2009, "causing
a signi cant reduction in rm order backlogs and
aircra deliveries, a clear reminder of this industry's
However, Bombardier said it has seen the "green
shoots" of industrial recovery in the rst half of this
" e economic recovery in the United States was
under way and strong growth continued in emerging
economies," the company says. "Unfortunately,
lagging growth in Europe remains a concern."
Sales of pre-owned aircraft rose to normal
levels, the company says, with a resultant decline
in inventories. Business-jet utilisation was "up
signi cantly year-over-year" and positive net orders
for business jets have returned, "albeit at a low
Bombardier cites gures from the US Federal
Aviation Administration (FAA) and Eurocontrol
as pointing to a 17 percent increase in business-jet
utilisation in the US in the rst quarter, with a 4
percent gain in Europe.
"Furthermore, business aviation penetration in
the fastest-expanding world economies, China and
India in particular, is accelerating," Bombardier says,
concluding that "the stage is set" for a full industrial
Worldwide, economies shrank by 2.1 percent in
2009, a key factor sti ing air travel demand. A er
a concerted e ort by governments to aid recovery,
global GDP is expected to grow about 3 percent this
year, stabilising at 3.2 percent in the longer term,
helping revitalise demand for new aircra .
Some of the fastest-growing economies in the world
are in Asia -- most prominently, China and India.
Accordingly, aircra manufacturers are predicting
While the suffering is still not over for some business jet manufacturers, the longer-term outlook for the
sector is robust, with Asia a crucial growth driver, writes Andrzej Jeziorski.
Bombardier says the barriers to business aviation growth in China and India are falling.
AsianAviation | OCTOBER 29
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