Business jet deliveries back to pre-2007 level

 - May 27, 2009, 11:50 AM

As a result of the slumping global economy, first-quarter business jet deliveries for 2009 paled in comparison to the same period in 2008, according to numbers released by the General Aviation Manufacturers Association.

A total of 191 business jets were delivered in the first three months of this year, down from 2008’s record tally of 297 first-quarter deliveries. One factor in the decline was the demise of Eclipse, which contributed 52 EA-500s to last year’s first-quarter total but none this year.

While slightly below 2007’s first- quarter total of 211 business jet deliveries, 2009’s first-quarter number still beat the first quarter of 2006, which saw 188 aircraft delivered.

For the first three months of the year Cessna saw a 28-percent decline in deliveries year over year, despite nearly doubling the number of Citation Mustang VLJs produced during the first quarter of 2008. Bombardier and Gulfstream both curtailed their output by nearly 20 percent. Embraer, which added the Phenom 100 VLJ to this year’s delivery roster, saw its total business jet output increase by one over the first quarter of last year, even though it produced five fewer Legacy 600s than in the same period last year.

The turboprop segment held its own, with reported deliveries of pressurized aircraft rising from 65 in the first quarter of last year to 66 in the same period this year.

Of note was Piaggio, which just changed its policy of reporting only half-yearly numbers, and therefore was not included in last year’s first-quarter tally. The Italian airframer delivered five Avantis during the first quarter of 2009. Hawker Beechcraft, Piper and Socata turboprop deliveries held steady from the first quarter of last year to this year, at 29, six and eight, respectively, while Pilatus delivered fewer copies of its PC-12 in the first three months of this year. Piston aircraft deliveries experienced severe erosion, with fewer than half last year’s first-quarter deliveries logged in this year’s first quarter.

Total industry first-quarter billings also declined by nearly $1 billion to $4.34 billion in the first quarter of 2009. “This is an extremely difficult time for our industry,” said GAMA president and CEO Pete Bunce. “We are dealing first and foremost with the severe negative effects of a worldwide economic downturn, but also with unwarranted criticism focused on the industry. The result has been the cancellation of orders for new airplanes and the loss of more than 15,000 high-paying jobs for American workers over the last several months. The reality is that the U.S. general aviation industry leads the world in innovation and remains one of the few American industries with a positive balance of trade.” Bunce added, “We will continue to work with governments around the world to recognize that general aviation can play a key role in propelling the economic recovery.”