Manufacturers Ponder The New Year

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Boeing Has High Hopes...

Boeing, like many, has not had its best year, but that isn't keeping the company's execs from keeping an optimistic eye for the future. Chairman and CEO Philip Condit says long-term trends are a lot rosier for the Chicago-based aerospace giant despite coming through a period that included the loss of major sales campaigns, a slowdown in production and the shelving of the Sonic Cruiser program. Nevertheless, Condit stood by the company's prediction that it would deliver 285 commercial airplanes next year, down from an anticipated 380 this year and 527 in 2001. The 1991 Persian Gulf war cut air traffic by an annualized 2 percent and the general idea at the company is that a war with Iraq could invite similar consequences with an associated potential downturn in business for Boeing's commercial division. However, the company does have a defense division eager to take part in the Bush administration's plan to deploy an airborne missile-defense system.

...But Piper Isn't So Optimistic

The folks at New Piper Aircraft aren't quite so sure about their prospects for 2003. According to The Palm Beach Post, the Florida-based manufacturer says it expects next year's sales to be flat, meaning it doesn't see a further increase in the sharp reductions in production suffered this year. The General Aviation Manufacturers Association  reports that New Piper produced 213 planes through the third quarter of this year, amounting to $94.45 million. It had projected production of 100 more planes by the end of the year, down from 444 planes in 2001. Company spokesman Mark Miller declined to comment last week how many planes New Piper would produce this year but said the company was trying to deliver as many aircraft as possible before Christmas. "We're working extra shifts," Miller said. "It really depends on how many planes we can deliver before we shut down for the holidays." The company isn't making any predictions about sales in 2003, Miller said. Still, expect a slow year, he added.