The business aviation industry is not out of the woods just yet, but General Dynamics executive vice-president, Joe Lombardo, is cautiously optimistic about the prospects for the future.
"We're starting to see some favorable signs, I'm not going to tell you that we're back on the upswing necessarily, there are some early signs that we're starting to pull ourselves out of this," says Lombardo.
Lombardo adds that reduction in service activities, the loss of skilled jobs, global credit crunch, jet fuel prices, as well as the negative public perception of business aviation have taken their toll on the industry.
Yet, in the last two to three months, Lombardo says he has seen a demand growing internationally in emerging markets for the company's large cabin G550 aircraft.
Meanwhile, Gulfstream is pushing forward with its new twin airplane programs. The company's large-cabin G650 is progressing toward its maiden sortie and is currently running through safety of flight testing checkouts before moving into higher speed taxi tests at Gulfstream's Savannah, Georgia facility.
Pres Henne, Gulfstream senior vice-president of programs, engineering and test says that the G650 structural airframe is undergoing static testing, while the second test vehicle, designated T2, progresses through final assembly. Henne adds that T3 and P1, the first production G650, are already in the production system ahead of final assembly.
More than 6,300 miles away, Henne says that the super mid-size G250, which rolled out just days after the G650, is progressing at a similar pace to its large cabin sibling with safety of flight checkouts and static testing well underway in Tel Aviv, Israel.
Both aircraft are expected to fly by the close of 2009.
"When the 'I's are dotted and the 'T's are crossed," says Henne. "We'll be ready to fly,"