2001 turbine deliveries climb

 - March 25, 2008, 5:48 AM

Despite the continuing economic downturn and the aftereffects of September 11, the number of turbine business airplanes delivered last year surpassed the tally for 2000. According to figures compiled by AIN and the General Aviation Manufacturers Association, airframers worldwide delivered 790 business jets and 332 business turboprops last year, compared with 758 jets and 267 turboprops in 2000.

In a historical departure from past practices, GAMA has started listing delivery
statistics for non-U.S.-built GA airplanes. Starting with the 2001 year-end review, delivery figures now appear for the Canadian-built Bombardier Global Express and Challenger business jets, as well as turbine business aircraft and corporate shuttles built by Europe’s Airbus, France’s Dassault and Socata, Brazil’s Embraer, Germany’s Fairchild Dornier, Italy’s Piaggio and Switzerland’s Pilatus.

GAMA told AIN, “We want to have a complete picture of international deliveries,” although the trade group has yet to decide if non-North American manufacturers will be invited to join the association. Currently, all of GAMA’s more than 50 members are U.S.-based companies, except for United Technologies’ Pratt & Whitney Canada division.

One of the major issues non-U.S. companies must consider in joining GAMA is that the association is also a lobbying group that conceivably might support federal legislation that could be viewed as detrimental to non-U.S. interests. On the other hand, one non-U.S. manufacturer told AIN that it would welcome being a member of GAMA’s lobbying efforts to provide a dissenting view for legislatures to consider.
   
Cessna Leads With Huge Gain
In the jet market, Cessna had the largest gain by far–a record 306 civil Citations delivered last year vs 252 the year before, bolstered by shipments of the new Encore (37 last year compared with six in 2000). Deliveries of the Encore started in the third quarter of 2000.

Significantly more deliveries of the Gulfstream 200 (nee Galaxy) last year (25 vs six) enabled the Savannah, Ga. company’s total deliveries to exceed by nearly 15 percent the number of aircraft it delivered in 2000, since GIV-SP and GV deliveries remained the same at 71.

Dassault delivered 75 Falcons last year, up two from the number in 2000. The biggest seller was far and away the Falcon 2000; the fewest deliveries continued to be posted by the Falcon 900C–the six deliveries last year showing no gain over 2000. The other two Falcon models posted a slight decline in orders last year.

Bombardier and Raytheon Aircraft reported significantly lower deliveries of their respective turbine airplanes. At Bombardier, deliveries were off significantly for all Learjet models and the Global Express. Raytheon Aircraft delivered fewer King Airs and jets. Deliveries of the Beechjet 400A declined the most–25 last year compared with 51 in 2000.

All the manufacturers that produce only turboprops for the business airplane market posted increased deliveries, with Piper enjoying the largest boost with its Meridian turboprop-single–98 deliveries last year. 

Embraer started delivering the Legacy, a business-jet version of its ERJ-135 regional airplane, with three units handed over last year. Fairchild Dornier shipped the first four copies of the Envoy 3, a corporate jet version of its 328JET regional aircraft.

Fractionals Set the Pace for Jets
According to statistics provided by AvData of Wichita, the total number of corporate aircraft operators worldwide increased 4 percent last year to 13,371 operators flying 21,584 aircraft. “The growth in the total number of corporate aircraft operators comes at a time when fractional programs are also growing,” said GAMA president and CEO Ed Bolen. Preliminary AvData statistics indicate the number of individuals and companies in the U.S. that own a fractional share of an airplane increased by 22.3 percent last year, from 2,793 the year before to 3,415.

The number of airplanes in fractional programs grew 19.3 percent last year, from 560 to 668. Bolen said GAMA member companies reported that about 17 percent of their total turbine deliveries (primarily jets) last year went to fractional programs.
Does the fact that shipments of business airplanes held up last year mean that everything is fine and that this will be a banner year for manufacturers? “Not necessarily,” said GAMA chairman Ray Siegfried. “Although the latest economic figures seem to suggest that the current recession might be coming to an end, it’s too early to know for sure. Companies remain reluctant to make capital expenditures in uncertain economic times,” he added.

Even if the recession ended tomorrow, there would likely be some lag before there was a “significant” increase in orders, said Siegfried. Historically, there is about a six- to nine-month lag between the end of a recession and an uptick in new airplane orders. It also takes a while for new orders to translate into new production. “So I don’t think we can say that 2002 will be another record year for manufacturers.”
At least three major manufacturers–Cessna, Bombardier and Raytheon Aircraft–expect deliveries to remain flat or decline this year.