Big Bizjet Market Booms

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Despite the general economic malaise, it's good to be Gulfstream these days. Speaking to reporters at the NBAA convention in Las Vegas on Sunday, the company's new President, Larry Flynn, said that the good times continue to roll in the big-cabin bizjet market and the future looks strong. "Businesses that were once regional are now global," Flynn said. "And their leaders need long-range transportation. They recognize Gulfstream as the leader in technology, performance and product support, and that has translated into strong sales." He said the order book is at $18 billion, including $400 million added in the second quarter of this year, and production backlog is in the "sweet spot" of 18-24 months for most models. The flagship G650 is nearing certification and will have a market niche virtually to itself for several years until Bombardier's new Global 7000 and 8000 models become available. Meanwhile, Honeywell has issued its 20th annual bizjet forecast and it's showing a little more optimism from its 2010 crystal-balling.

The company has increased its 10-year forecast by 2 percent to about $230 billion over the next 10 years, but there is some short-term pain to endure to get to that long-term gain. Honeywell says 2011 deliveries will barely top 600 units and 2012 will be only marginally better. Things look better after that. Meanwhile, Embraer, which also puts out an industry forecast, has taken the unusual step of issuing a "what if" adjustment. At NBAA, Ernest Edwards, Embraer's VP for business jets, said the possibility of economic failures of European countries and a resulting double-dip recession will cut the market and production of business aircraft. Edwards also said that in the absence of the potential crisis, the bizjet market is on track to recover.