Bombardier predicts rise in deliveries, fall in orders

 - May 17, 2008, 11:01 PM

The number of deliveries of new business aircraft is expected to increase substantially in the next 10 years, but this will be accompanied by a reduction in orders, especially in the short term, according to new Bombardier Aerospace statistics. The Canadian manufacturer predicts that typical annual industry output during the period 2008-2017 will be more than 32 percent higher than it had forecast 12 months ago for the current 2007-2016 period. Deliveries in the next 10 years will be more than double those of the past equivalent period, the report noted.

Strategy and business development vice president Mairead Lavery unveiled Bombardier’s latest view of the industry earlier this month, with a delivery forecast for 1,320 aircraft per year (excluding very light jets), compared with 995 annually predicted by Bombardier this time last year. The new figures reflect recent trends that saw 2007 become a “record year in revenues orders, deliveries and industry backlog.”

Lavery noted a “structural shift” as manufacturers continue development of 20 new models or variants that will begin to enter service in the next five years. Reviewing the past 10 years, she pointed to a previous annual delivery peak of 695 units in 2000 before last year’s 863 aircraft (as recorded by the U.S. General Aviation Manufacturers Association in the categories in which Bombardier competes). Related revenues peaked at $12 billion in 2001 and an estimated $18.4 billion last year (based on prices).

She said a geographic shift also is taking place, with larger numbers of aircraft being provided to end users outside North America. “International business jet markets are forecast to sustain continued growth as they now generate more than 50 percent of orders. The U.S. market is expected to slow down, but international growth should sustain the total market.”

Major “three-year market drivers” influencing Lavery’s forecast are positive international economic trends, “very significant” industry backlog, used aircraft inventories and emerging new aircraft. Bombardier puts backlog at 30 months’ production, or 2,571 aircraft worth $63 billion, and regards this workload as a “significant buffer” for manufacturers against any sudden downturn in future requirements. Demand for new business aircraft use from fractional ownership programs is seen as remaining essentially stable, although she did note the negative impact of the ongoing U.S. financial environment.

“With the surge of international orders, the industry is less exposed to the U.S. economy, while average real gross-domestic product growth in emerging markets and developing economies should remain above the worldwide average over the next three years,” said Lavery. She predicted that the fastest growth in the financial wealth of high-net-worth individuals would occur in the Asia Pacific, Latin American and Middle Eastern markets.

The Bombardier executive sees no current signs of weakness in the “very robust” used aircraft market for business jets; the number of pre-owned aircraft as a proportion of the total fleet decreased by one percentage point to 10.9 percent in 2007. Lavery warned, however, that higher numbers of new deliveries could push market values down in coming years. Meanwhile, fractional ownership programs are seen as maintaining a 10- to 15-percent share of deliveries, with a neutral impact on manufacturers in the next three years.

The healthy backlog of orders made recently should sustain manufacturers’ production efforts, even as they adjust to a likely downturn in new business, according to Lavery. “Despite an expected cyclic decrease in orders over the next two years, industry deliveries should continue to increase,” she said.

An expected 13,500 orders for new equipment in the forecast period contrasts with about 8,200 units ordered from 1998 to 2007. In the same period, manufacturers made about 6,200 deliveries, compared with the 13,200 foreseen over the next 10 years.

The result of the predicted market developments will be a 24,800-strong fleet (excluding VLJs) in 2017, according to Bombardier. This is almost exactly double the current fleet size, and would represent a growth of close to 200 percent since 1997.
Reflecting the predicted geographic shift, the 2017 figures are seen as demonstrating a decline in the U.S. operating industry from 69 percent of the fleet in 2007 to about 54 percent. Europe’s share will almost double, from 13 percent to 25 percent, leaving the rest of the world with a healthy 21 percent, up from 17 percent last year.

Against this positive industry-wide background, Lavery claimed Bombardier is
“positioned for success” because of its “most-complete product portfolio” of nine models: Global 5000 and Global Express XRS; Challenger 300, 605 and 850; and Learjet 40XR, 45XR, 60XR and the in-development Learjet 85. With no involvement in the VLJ market, which the Canadian manufacturer said will account for no more than 5 percent of market revenue, Bombardier’s eight current programs represent almost 28 percent of the designs in production, a proportion that would shrink to less than 23 percent after introduction of presently planned projects, including its own Global Vision program.