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NBAA: Honeywell forecasts strong business jet demand driven by large-cabin types

Demand for large-cabin aircraft, a strong pipeline of new types and economic resurgence in Europe and Brazil will help create a strong business aviation market over the next decade, according to Honeywell Aerospace.

In the 23nd edition of its annual Business Aviation Outlook – published yesterday – Honeywell forecasts deliveries of up to 9,450 new business jets between 2014 and 2024 with a value of $280 billion.

Deliveries of around 675 new jets are forecast this year, says Honeywell. This is about 50 more aircraft than were predicted in the 2013 survey, “but this is largely due to programme schedule recoveries, new model introductions and additional aircraft entering fractional ownership programmes”, it explains.

It also expects deliveries to climb modestly in 2015, says Honeywell’s business and general aviation president, Brian Sill. The projected rise reflects “momentum from several new model introductions and some gains linked to incremental global economic growth”, Sill says.

Honeywell found that of the 1,500 global flight departments interviewed, 23% planned to purchase new business jets over the next five years, either as replacements or additions to their existing fleets. This number is lower than for the previous four years, it says, and the timing of acquisitions has also been pushed back, reflecting a lack of confidence in the market.

Nearly 20% of these purchases are planned by the end of next year, followed by 14% in 2016 and 22% in 2017.

Aircraft in the top half of the business jet sector will continue to dominate throughout the forecast period. In the next five years alone, models spanning the super-midsize to VIP airliner segments will account for up to 46% of all new aircraft purchased and 75% of the total value, Honeywell says.

“The strong desire for larger-cabin aircraft, with greater range and advanced avionics, is seen again in this year’s survey,” Sill says. The latest business jet programmes from Gulfstream, Dassault and Bombardier are really helping to stimulate demand in this sector, he says.

“We are also seeing some improved interest in midsize and small-cabin models thanks to new entrants such as the Pilatus PC-24 and Embraer’s Legacy 500,” he adds.

Demand for new aircraft will vary considerably across the regions, however. Given North America’s huge installed base, the continent’s buyers will inevitably account for the bulk of aircraft acquisitions over the next decade. According to the report, the continent – the USA in particular – will represent nearly 60% of projected global demand between 2014 and 2019. While this is a slight drop on last year’s prediction “the acquisition plans are still significant,” Honeywell says, “and this reaffirms the region’s unquestionable importance to the industry’s future”.

Europe – home to the second-largest business aircraft fleet – has seen operator purchase expectations rise this year for the first time since 2012. This is despite continued sluggish economic growth and increased political tensions. “Over the next five years the region’s operators are expected to replace 18% of their in-service fleet,” Honeywell says.

In contrast, purchase expectations from the BRIC countries - Brazil, Russia, India and China - have fallen. 2013’s survey showed 42% of respondents had acquisition plans, but this has dropped to 29% this year. Honeywell attributes the decline to political and economic uncertainty.

Brazil, however, is forecast to buck the trend. Operators in the country, thanks to a vast and ageing installed fleet, are showing the “strongest new aircraft purchase plans in the survey”, says Honeywell.

The 10-year outlook for the Asia Pacific region is not as rosy. Operators have halved their purchase expectations over the last year, and now only 12% of the region’s fleet is forecast to require replacement over the next decade.

Honeywell attributes this “muted operator enthusiasm” to “higher levels of regional tensions and government austerity initiatives”. It is confident, however, that the current survey “does not represent any long-term structural change in the region’s underlying growth drivers or commitment to business aviation”.

Get all the latest coverage from NBAA 2014 here

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