Half-year delivery figures for business aircraft manufacturers show an industry still ramping up to handle record backlogs. And the orderbooks continue to grow, with Cessna and Gulfstream both reporting strong second-quarter order intakes.

Deliveries of business jets and turboprops increased by around 15% compared with the first six months of 2006, says the General Aviation Manufacturers Association, its members shipped 475 jets and 182 turboprops. Piston aircraft deliveries slipped 4% year-over-year, to 1,226 units.

Among major manufacturers, only Bombardier did not show an increase in first-half deliveries, the 113 jets shipped essentially unchanged from a year earlier. Cessna's jet deliveries were up 13% to 163, Gulfstream's 22% to 66 and Dassault's 30% to 30.

Hawker Beechcraft saw a small increase to 62 jets and 62 turboprops, but has yet to deliver any super mid-size Hawker 4000s. The company says it is completing post-certification work, including icing approval and system upgrades, so it can deliver "fully usable" aircraft from October.

Another no-show in the GAMA half-year figures is Sino Swearingen, which has yet to begin customer deliveries of its SJ30 light jet, certificated in late 2005. Eclipse delivered 17 aircraft in the second quarter, up four in the first quarter, as it worked to overcome a series of issues slowing the introduction of its very light jet.

Cessna's lead in jet shipments looks set to lengthen, meanwhile. The company has pushed up planned Citation deliveries for the year by five to 380, including 44 Mustang VLJs, and booked 282 orders in the second quarter.

Planned 2008 production of 470 jets, including 100 Mustangs, is sold out and there will be another step up in shipments in 2009, when Cessna plans to produce 150 Mustangs.

Gulfstream's "book-to-build" ratio in the second quarter was 2.5:1 in dollar terms, and its increased production of 88 large-cabin jets in 2008 is sold out, says parent company General Dynamics.

The backlog could support a higher output, says the parent company, but Gulfstream's existing facility is capped at 95 a year. A new factory will come on line next year, but will build Gulfstream's next-generation large-cabin jet, General Dynamics says.

Source: Flight International