NBAA: Large-cabin aircraft to drive business aviation industry recovery

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The business aviation industry is predicted to shake off the shackles of the debilitating economic recession within 24 months and begin a prolonged period of expansion, according to the latest 10-year industry forecast released at the NBAA business aviation convention by aerospace supplier Honeywell.

The 19th edition of the annual Business Aviation Outlook predicts delivery of around 11,000 new business jets from 2010 to 2020, generating estimated industry sales in excess of $225 billion. "This represents approximately a 10% increase in total expected industry sales value versus the prior 10-year forecast issued in 2009," says Honeywell.

However, the forecast has adjusted the expected delivery tally for 2010 from the 800 aircraft predicted in last year's forecast to 675. Deliveries for 2011 are also expected to fall below 700 aircraft. Honeywell says this is a result of "the continued global economic weakness, overarching concerns about government debt, austerity programmes, export growth, financing costs and general availability".

Rob Wilson, Honeywell president, business and general aviation, says: "Five-year buyer interest has softened from 2009 and new purchase plans are slightly below 2007-08 levels observed in the 2007-08 industry growth period. However, based on survey responses and factoring in economic growth forecasts, the industry should begin another period of expansion in 2012."

Despite lacklustre economic growth, there have been relatively few programme cancellations and delays, Wilson adds. "So the pipeline of new high-value models supporting long-term growth remains strong."

Honeywell predicts that international markets - notably Asia, Africa and the Middle East - will remain significant and contribute to longer-term growth throughout the forecast period. "International demand now accounts for 40-45% of the new aircraft purchase plans projected over the next five years after just exceeding 50% in the 2009 survey," it says. Honeywell forecasts that international deliveries will continue to reflect this global shift in share, which is well above the current international business jet fleet share.

The 2010 survey indicates a potential demand for more than 5,000 aircraft globally in the 2011-15 period, excluding demand from fractional ownership or branded charter start-up businesses and piston aircraft owner trade-ups into jet aircraft.

Fractional operators continue to delay aircraft purchases in the face of falling demand. Only three new jets were delivered to programmes throughout 2009 and the first half of 2010, the report says, and "significantly lower deliveries to this segment will continue for the next few years as excess capacity is worked off and shareholder levels are rebuilt".

"Sustained interest in the long- and ultra-long-range segment has been present for several years and reflects increased need for aircraft capable of transpacific flights, as well as the growth in demand in other regions requiring more long-range operations as trade and economic growth is still anticipated," says Honeywell.

In contrast, the outlook for personal jets - the Diamond D-Jet, Cirrus SF50 Vision - remains weak. "Current potential is limited by supply as much as demand due to the delays and disruption of several high-profile projects," Honeywell says.

"Deliveries over the next 10-year period will likely be constrained to somewhere between 500 and 1,000 aircraft during the forecast period. Corporate-configured airliners, meanwhile - Boeing BBJ and Airbus Corporate Jetliner families - will represent around 20 aircraft per year until 2020," it adds.