Turboprop sales are slower to respond, but supply of used aircraft starting to dry up

Business jet manufacturers are beginning to rebuild depleted order backlogs as the market shows strong signs of recovery. General Dynamics, Raytheon and Textron all report increasing order activity as they head into the second half of the year.

Cessna booked 72 net Citation orders in the second quarter, - twice the number of aircraft delivered - and production is now sold out for the year. Parent company Textron has increased its forecast for Citation deliveries to 180 for this year and 225 in 2005. By 31 July, Cessna had 180 Citations on order for delivery next year - up from 83 at the same time last year.

Demand is picking up at Gulfstream and order intake in the third quarter could be "a bit superheated", says parent company GD. The build-to-book ratio - the ratio of aircraft delivered to orders taken - has been running at around 1:1, but is expected to increase in the second half of the year. Gulfstream delivered 20 green and 18 completed aircraft in the second quarter.

Raytheon Aircraft says its build-to-book ratio is "the healthiest in three years". The company delivered 28 business jets in the third quarter and booked orders for 72 - more than three times the intake of a year earlier. Turboprop recovery is slower, with 22 King Air deliveries and 31 orders in the quarter.

The supply of good used aircraft is drying up, one reason for the increase in new aircraft orders. Textron says the used Citation inventory has returned to its historical level of 13% of the fleet. Raytheon says most newer jets have been sold, leaving older aircraft too expensive to upgrade. Good used turboprops are available, but inventories are down, the company says.

New and used aircraft prices are also recovering. Textron says prices were up 2% on the 36 new Citations delivered in the second quarter. GD says Gulfstream's exposure to the used aircraft market has been drastically reduced, with four traded-in aircraft sold at break-even in the second quarter compared with earlier losses.


Source: Flight International