Deliveries ramp up, production slots fill and backlogs build as market boom for business aircraft continues

Order intake at Cessna and Gulfstream continued to be strong in the third quarter, and aircraft availability is moving out as backlogs build. Cessna booked net orders for 71 Citations in the third quarter, taking its total for the year to almost 230, and delivered 61 jets, up from 47 for the same period last year.

Cessna expects to deliver 240-245 Citations this year, up from 181 last year, and has pushed its delivery forecast for next year up to 290 aircraft, of which 260 have already been sold. Cessna already has 210 orders for 2007, which parent company Textron expects to be “another solid growth year”, chairman, president and chief executive Lewis Campbell told analysts. The 2007 orders include 50 for the Citation Mustang entry-level jet now in flight test.

Gulfstream, meanwhile, made green deliveries of 17 large jets and seven mid-size jets in the third quarter, up from 14 and six a year earlier. For the first nine months, green deliveries are 46 and 19, respectively, up from 41 and 16 in the same period last year. “Order activity remains strong and, in both a dollar and unit basis, Gulfstream’s book-to-bill ratio exceeds one to one,” Nick Chabraja, chairman and chief executive of parent company General Dynamics told analysts.

At the end of the third quarter “over 90%” of Gulfstream’s 72 large-aircraft production slots for this year were sold, as were more than 60% of its mid-size deliveries, Chabraja said. “In the first two weeks of the fourth quarter we have received five orders and taken 19 letters of intent with deposits,” he said.

Cessna also took orders for more than 900 piston singles in the first nine months, says Campbell, and now has more than 1,200 in backlog. Textron company Bell Helicopter, meanwhile, has booked 239 commercial orders in the first nine months and is on track to deliver around 140 aircraft this year, up from 93 in 2004, and more than 185 next year.


Source: Flight International