Gulfstream and Cessna are predicting continued strong growth for their business jet lines due in part to rising demand in Europe.

General Dynamics chief executive Nicholas Chabraja says subsidiary Gulfstream's largest growth area now is Europe, including Russia, accounting for 21% of its sales. North America claimed 58% of the orders for 2006, down from 67% in 2005 and 70% in 2004.

Overall, Gulfstream is forecasting 139 green aircraft deliveries for 2007, consisting of 57 mid-size (G150 and G200) and 82 large-cabin (G350 through G550) aircraft, up 23% from the 42 mid-size and 71 large-cabin aircraft delivered last year. Sales in 2006 grew by 20% and earnings climbed 30%. The company's book-to-bill ratio was 1.41, up from 1.39 in 2005. "It is going along at a reasonable pace," Chabraja says of the market.

Though Chabraja says he expects sales growth in the neighbourhood of 17-18% this year, Gulfstream's operating margins will probably mirror the 16% obtained in 2006, in part due to increased sales of the lower-cost G150 and G200 and increased research and development expenditures. As for new programmes, Chabraja says only that the R&D is being spent on both mid-size and large-cabin aircraft.

Cessna's numbers are also strong. In an earnings call with analysts on 24 January, Lewis Campbell, head of Cessna parent company Textron, said Cessna will deliver 375 Citation jets this year, including 40 entry-level Mustangs. The company delivered 307 Citations last year on 496 orders, a 1.62 book-to-bill ratio. It has booked more than 350 orders for 2008.

Of the 40 Mustangs to be delivered this year, nearly 75% are to be exported, starting in the second quarter. Campbell said Cessna expects to receive European certification for the twinjet in March.

Campbell says Cessna is this year pumping $40 million into R&D efforts that include "feasibility" studies for a widebody business jet. Cessna unveiled a nine-seat Large Cabin Concept aircraft at the National Business Aviation Association's annual meeting last year, saying it would decide by October whether to proceed.

Source: Flight International