Faltering demand across the business aircraft sector in the first half of 2017 contributed to a $235 million fall in annual revenues for Textron Aviation, to $4.92 billion.
Operating profit slid by $86 million for the 12 months ended 31 December, to $303 million, but parent company Textron is optimistic that the Wichita-based airframer is finally turning a corner. The order backlog of Beechcraft and Cessna products climbed in the fourth quarter by $15 million, to $1.2 billion, while the book-to-bill ratio – or the number of orders against deliveries – stood at 1:1.
Speaking on a fourth-quarter earnings call on 31 January, Textron chief executive Scott Donnelly said: “There's no question that the level of activity out there is stronger than we've seen for some time.” He says the company has "some great new aircraft", pointing to the in-service, midsize Latitude – which he describes as a “very, very, well received product” – and the in-development Longitude. The super-midsize business jet is earmarked for certification in the first quarter. “If this market is strengthening,” he says, “we’ll be in good shape to benefit from that.”
Textron Aviation recorded deliveries of 86 Beechcraft King Airs in 2017 – down from 106 during the previous 12 months; Citation business jet shipments climbed by a modest two units over the same period, to 180. Fourth quarter King Air and Citation output totalled 31 and 58 units, versus a respective 28 and 58 delivered during the same period in 2016.