Graham Warwick/ATLANTA

US MANUFACTURERS are reporting significant order backlogs for business aircraft. Cessna says that orders for its Citation business jets are at their highest level since the end of the 1970s. Raytheon has reported record sales for its Beechjet and Hawker ranges.

Cessna's deliveries reached the 200 mark in 1995, including 113 Citations and 88 single-turboprop utility Caravans. That was up from 172 in 1994. The company also booked orders for another 145 Citations and 87 Caravans.

Cessna is on track to exceed $1 billion in sales in 1996 "...and set an all-time record for sales revenue", says chairman Russ Meyer. The existing record of $1.1 billion was set in 1979, when Cessna sold 202 Citations.

The manufacturer notes that sales increased in 1995, despite the fact that no Citation IIs - its most popular model - were delivered. The last Citation II was delivered in 1994 and its replacement, the Bravo, will be certificated later in 1996. Cessna is revamping its business-jet line, with deliveries of the high-speed Citation X beginning in mid-1996, followed by the widebody Excel in 1997.

Raytheon says that it delivered a record 64 business jets in 1995, plus 96 corporate turboprops and 65 regional airliners. Military sales took total turbine-aircraft deliveries for 1995 to 271, up from 227 in 1994. Commercial-aircraft sales, which included 138 piston-powered aircraft, accounted for $1.1 billion of Raytheon's record $2 billion in sales. The company does not reveal its orderbook.

Sales of the Beechjet 400A light business-jet rose to 30 in 1995, from 22 in 1994, while deliveries of the medium-sized Hawker 800 jumped to 26, from 16 the previous year. There was a big increase in sales of the out-of-production Starship 2000A business-turboprop, from three in 1994 to 13 in 1995. This masked a slight decrease in sales of the King Air.

Other US business-jet manufacturers announced 1995 sales increases: Learjet went from 36 to 43; and Gulfstream from 22 to 26. The US General Aviation Manufacturers' Association (GAMA) says that, overall, business-jet deliveries by US companies were up by 10% in 1995, to 246 units worth more than $2 billion.

GAMA cites encouraging signs, including record high-utilisation rates for business jets and aircraft-charter activity up by as much as 20%. The used-aircraft market remains strong, GAMA notes.

Source: Flight International