The National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) says exhibitor and attendance numbers are up over last year’s convention and spots for display aircraft were sold out, but outside of the event analysts remain cool about the industry’s recovery. The NBAA convention “remains a must-attend” event for industry players, according to NBAA CEO Ed Bolen. And to casual observers an increase in attendance and vendors at NBAA’s convention can suggest anything from good things to businesses seeking leverage in difficult times. Analysts are more direct. Gary Crichlow of Ascend Aviation Consultancy told a Financial Times reporter that 2011 looks to bring “more of the same” for business aviation. Crichlow believes “2012 will be when things start picking up.” The Teal Group’s Richard Aboulafia called 2010 a year of “convalescing” and believes recovery is unlikely prior to 2012. NBAA’s Bolen contends that this year’s convention shows that, in his industry, “people and companies are optimistic and forward-looking.” And, at least for products at the highest end of the bizjet price range, there may be reason for that optimism.
In the world of $40 million-plus business jets, companies appear relatively bullish in a market that hasn’t softened. Bombardier chose the convention to roll out the Global 7000 and Global 8000 business jets, which are offered at about $65 million each. Gulfstream has about 100 firm orders for its G650 bizjet, a $60 million not-yet-certified offering. And Embraer’s Lineage 1000 jet has been introduced to the market by that company at $50 million each. Deliveries of Bombardier’s $40 million Global Express are up from 2008 (a banner year for the industry). Gulfstream’s G300-G550 models range from $33 million to $50 million, and they saw increased deliveries in 2009 over 2008. Dassault’s Falcon 7X chimes in at about $50 million and deliveries of that jet are up year-over-year, also, for 2010. Those gains have not offset losses. Honeywell forecasts that industry-wide, new jet deliveries will see an overall drop of about 17 percent this year, continuing last year’s 34-percent drop-off of 2008’s high water mark, according to The New York Times.