Although there have been hopeful signs in the past year that the downward slide of business aviation is slowing, if not stopped, the consensus of industry leaders at this year's National Business Aviation Association convention is that recovery will be slow and painful. "We expect 2010 to be a tough year," said Hawker Beechcraft CEO Bill Boisture. Cessna CEO Jack Pelton agreed, noting that recovery to the heady levels of 2007 and early 2008 could be years away. Meantime, both CEOs say they've done their best to put their companies in shape to weather the storm and emerge as strong companies. However, in doing so, they have most likely created some serious future problems.
The effect of those measures could have some long-term effects. Cessna has laid off half its workforce, and that, in addition to the undeniable heartache it's caused those directly involved, ironically, will likely create a labor shortage as the market recovers. It's reasonable to expect that many of those thrown out of work, most of them highly skilled, will find other ways to make a living and won't come back to aviation. The cutbacks have also rippled to suppliers, some of whom might not survive the reduction in business. That could result in serious supply chain issues as the demand for aircraft returns.