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Business aircraft growth expected as backlogs stay strong

Despite a downturn in the US economy, business aircraft manufacturers are expecting deliveries to increase again this year after the industry posted record billings for 2007.

A total of 4,272 business and general aviation aircraft worth $21.9 billion were delivered in 2007, says the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA). Shipments were up 5.4% and billings 16.5% from 2006.

Although the credit crunch has slowed US economic growth, a strong market outside North America has boosted manufacturers to record order backlogs, estimated by GAMA to total $58.1 billion by the end of 2007.

"Hopefully we are beginning to break the industry's cyclical tie to the US economy," says GAMA chairman Alan Klapmeier, chief executive of light aircraft manufacturer Cirrus Design.

"The industry is becoming more broadly based," he says, with 42% of 2007 business jet and turboprop deliveries going to customers outside the USA. This is forecast to reach 50% within five years.

   © Eclipse

Eclipse 500 was the most-delivered business-jet model of 2007          

Worldwide business jet deliveries increased 28.4% in 2007, to 1,138 aircraft. Turboprop shipments rose 11.4% to 459 aircraft. But the US economic downturn has hurt deliveries of piston-powered aircraft, which declined 2.9% to 2,675 aircraft.

Last year was the first time that business-jet deliveries exceeded 1,000 aircraft, GAMA says, and overall aircraft shipments were their highest in 24 years. "We expect the growth to continue," says Klapmeier.

Cessna delivered 388 business jets in 2007, says GAMA. Bombardier shipped 226 jets, Hawker Beechcraft 162, Gulfstream 138, Eclipse 98, Dassault 70 and Embraer 36. In addition, Airbus delivered 12 ACJs and Boeing seven BBJs.

Hawker Beechcraft delivered 157 turboprops in 2007. Pilatus delivered 92 turboprops, Cessna 79, Piper 53, EADS Socata 46 and Piaggio 21. Cessna led piston shipments in 2007, with 807 aircraft, followed by Cirrus with 710, Diamond with 471 and Piper with 168.

Top 15 Aerospace manufacturers 2007


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