Deliveries decline in 2Q, but billings increase again

 - August 31, 2010, 9:51 AM

For the seventh straight quarter, total deliveries of business jets and turboprops declined year-to-year, according to the second-quarter statistics released last month by the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA). However, industry billings, which totaled $9.4 billion, rose by a modest 0.2 percent, the second straight quarter showing an increase.

“The large end of the business jet segment fared best in the first half of 2010, resulting in an increase in total billings for the industry,” GAMA president and CEO Pete Bunce told AIN. “More and more companies are conducting business on a global level. This has continued to spur the delivery of larger business jets that can efficiently and quickly travel the distances necessary to take advantage of new market opportunities.” Bunce said this trend was especially true for the Middle East and Asia, which have generally fared better in the recession than other parts of the world. Additionally, he said, this segment of the market is less exposed to the negative effects resulting from contraction in the fractional business and it tends to rely less on third-party financing.

In the first half of the year manufacturers delivered 355 business jets, an overall decrease of 14.3 percent from the 414 shipped in the same period last year. Cessna deliveries fell by more than 50 percent. Last year the Wichita airframer was ramping up production of its Mustang; this year it delivered 26 fewer of the VLJs in the first half than it did in the same period last year, and handed over just one CJ1+ compared with the nine it delivered in last year’s first half. The company did not deliver any Citation Xs in the first half of this year. On the plus side, the new CJ4 made its service debut, with three shipped in the second quarter, and Cessna doubled last year’s Encore+ deliveries, handing over four in the first six months of this year.

Neighboring Wichita manufacturer Hawker Beechcraft saw a decrease of more than 30 percent in the number of jets it delivered in the first half, year over year. While the airframer doubled the number of Hawker 4000s it shipped in the first half of 2010 to eight, its smaller stablemates did not fare as well, with deliveries of every other model slipping except the 850XP, which held steady at one delivered in each of the first halves.

Bombardier, which slashed deliveries on its midsize Learjet 40/45XRs by more than half, from 22 in the first half of last year to nine through the first six months of this year, handed over one more Learjet 60XR than it did in the first half of last year. Deliveries of the Challenger 605 remained steady, dipping by just one airplane in this year’s first half.

Gulfstream experienced little deterioration, with only a single aircraft delivery difference year-over-year.

While the North American manufacturers continued to drift through the doldrums, the overseas airframers continued to show gains. Embraer more than doubled its business-jet deliveries year over year, bolstered by the swelling ranks of the Phenom 100. It shipped 51 of the VLJs in the first half of this year compared with 21 in the same period last year. In conjunction with the service entry of the Phenom 300, this was more than enough to offset the 50-percent drop in Legacy 600 deliveries.

Dassault, which had a better than 73-percent increase in deliveries, saw its bottom line buoyed by increased production of the Falcon 2000LX. Last year, the French airframer saw deliveries of eight 2000-series aircraft in the first half. This year that number doubled to 16 in the first six months. The 2000LX accounted for all 16 deliveries, as Dassault phases out the 2000DX and 2000EX EASy. Dassault also more than doubled the deliveries of its flagship 7X trijet year over year, to 21 in this year’s first half from nine in the same period last year.

Both Airbus and Boeing posted increases in their year-to-year bizliner deliveries, with Airbus doubling its first-half output to eight this year from four last year.

The pressurized turboprop segment experienced worse erosion. While the overall category saw deliveries decline by 17.8 percent from the first half of last year, the pressurized group doubled that decrease, recording a drop of 35.6 percent. The number of aircraft delivered fell to 87 from 135, the lowest tally since the first half of 2004. Piaggio last year delivered 11 Avanti IIs in the first half but saw that number dwindle to two in the first six months of this year. Pilatus and Piper each recorded a 43-percent decrease in first-half deliveries of its respective turboprop single, the PC-12 and the Meridian. Hawker Beechcraft saw shipments of King Airs slide by a third, to 24 in the first six months of this year from 51 in the same period last year. Bucking the trend, Daher-Socata delivered 18 TBM 850 turboprop singles in the first half, three more than in the first six months of last year, representing a 20-percent increase.

“As general aviation manufacturers continue looking toward recovery from the economic downturn, it remains critical that pro-growth, pro-manufacturing policies that promote aircraft purchases and stimulate job creation, such as bonus depreciation, be put in place,” said Bunce.