Next week's National Business Aviation Association convention in Orlando should give us a pretty good idea of whether the sector is showing any signs of recovery.
The portents have not been great. While the large cabin and airliner-derived segments have held up throughout the downturn - thanks to long lead times and a growing market of ultra-high-net-worths happy to pay to own or charter this sort of long-range, high-end transport, the rest of the business aviation market continues to sag.
Hawker Beechcraft announced last week that, following the breakdown of talks with a Chinese suitor, it was planning to dispose of - or shut down - its Hawker jet division. The famous brand has struggled for years, long before the onset of the recession, and time appears to be running out. It seems inconceivable that any of its rivals will step in to rescue it. The 23 October issue of Flight International has the full story.
Elsewhere, though there has been some uptick for Cessna and Bombardier has three Learjet models under development, that end of the sector remains tough. There are still many used jets in this part of the market looking for homes and dampening demand for new aircraft. And the core customer base for these jets - US corporates and small businesses - is still smarting from an onslaught from none other than President Barack Obama, who suggested in one of the presidential debates that owners should not be subject to favourable tax laws.
The NBAA's No Plane No Gain campaign - being rejuvinated at the convention this year - stresses that business aviation is crucial to the US and global economy. But in an age of austerity too many people still associate corporate aviation with corporate excess.
In this week's issue we look at several of the themes likely to be making the news in Orlando. Kate Sarsfield examines the air taxi market. Is there still life in a sector many suspected was a pre-downturn bubble of hype, blown up by the overstated ambitions of Vern Raburn's Eclipse Aerospace and would-be pioneer DayJet? You might be surprised at how the market has quietly developed over the past three years.
We also get our hands on some hardware, flight testing the new cockpit on Bombardier's revamped 70/75 and going under the skin of the Bell 429 helicopter with a stunning cutaway.
We have our annual snapshot of the business aircraft fleet with our census, and our cover story is the Bombardier Learjet 85, all-new big sister to the 70/75.