Gulfstream plans only a modest production increase this year, despite booking a record number of non-fractional business jet orders in 2004. The company secured 95 net orders in 2004, 36 more than a year earlier, but 43 of them came in the fourth quarter, so will not affect delivery rates until late this year or early 2006, says parent company General Dynamics.

Gulfstream delivered 78 green aircraft in 2004 - 56 large and 22 mid-size jets - compared with 74 in 2003. Deliveries of completed aircraft rose from 74 to 77 - 52 large and 25 mid-size. GD says the company is to build four more large and four more mid-size aircraft this year.

Orders for large aircraft - the G350/450/500/550 - increased from 41 in 2003 to 71 last year, valued at $2.4 billion, while orders for mid-size aircraft - the G100/150/200 - rose from 18 to 24, worth $384 million. There were two order cancellations early in 2004, says GD, and no fractional orders during the year.

GD chief executive Nick Chabraja says Gulfstream is 92% sold out for 2005 in terms of large-cabin business jet production, and 68% for mid-size aircraft, and has "a nice backlog or orders for 2006". There was also a "notable and marked" pricing improvement on orders in the fourth quarter, he says.

The G350, the latest and least expensive of Gulfstream's large-cabin aircraft, is proving popular, with several fleet orders placed in 2004. "We took quite a number of 350 orders in the year - perhaps more than we wanted," says Chabraja. Production of the G350 will be increased this year, he says.

Plans to increase production depend on suppliers stepping up output "We will build more aircraft if we can get the suppliers lined up," says Chabraja.


Source: Flight International