UPDATE: Parts of this article have been revised to reflect the fact that Cessna began delivering the Citation M2 and new Citation Sovereign before the end of 2013.
You could almost hear the collective sigh of resignation earlier in the year when the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) published its 2012 report of new business jet deliveries. The figures, reported directly to GAMA by the manufacturers, showed a decrease in deliveries for the fourth year running and worse still, the gap between the year-on-year decline, which had been getting smaller, was showing signs of creeping back up again.
Although in real terms, the difference between the 2011 and 2012 figures was only -2.9 per cent, the contraction still had people worried that we were seeing the start of another downward trend.
News from Beechcraft in October 2012 that the company would cease jet production altogether meant that 2013 might be a lean year – and with Cessna announcing a temporary production halt on its Mustang, CJ2+, CJ3 and CJ4 lines in April, it was clear that the year hadn’t gotten off to the best of starts.
In fact, worse would come out of Cessna later in the year with the announcement that software problems with the Garmin avionics suites would push back the first deliveries of the three new aircraft types / variants that the Wichita based airframer had been working on. Scott Donnelly, chairman and CEO of Textron, maintained in the parent company’s 18 July investor call that the Citation M2 and new Citation Sovereign would deliver before the end of the year and has only just kept his promise by beginning deliveries in the final week of the year. The third new type of 2013, the new Citation X, slipped directly into 2014.
So while the outlook for the lower end of the market seemed bleak, at the opposite end, deliveries promised to flourish. The Gulfstream G650 saw its first deliveries in December 2012 and the backlog of over 200 aircraft meant 2013 would be a busy year for the Savannah-based airframer, as it pushed out as many new aircraft to their owners as quickly as possible.
By the end of the third quarter, the industry had delivered a total of 421 business jets for the year, a 2.1 per cent decline for the same period in the previous year. However, most manufacturers tend to perform better in the final quarter of the year – December is usually the busiest month – and we’ll have to wait for the GAMA ‘State of the Industry’ press conference – tentatively scheduled for 19 February 2014 – before the final picture emerges.
Unadjusted delivery numbers provided by JETNET LLC for the period up until the middle of December show that catching up on 2012 is going to be a tough task, but it should be noted that delivery dates are often adjusted later, as fly away dates and ownership changes on registers don’t always match the official delivery date that the manufacturers declare.
The last few years have also seen an adjustment in the deliveries that are reported to GAMA, with Bombardier and Gulfstream at least changing from reporting ‘green’ deliveries to completion canters, to completed customer deliveries.
Airbus deliveries so far this year, according to JETNET LLC, stand at four aircraft, with one each of the ACJ318 and ACJ320 and two ACJ319s, half of the full year total for 2012.
Boeing’s figures for 2012 included eight 747 BBJs, all of which were delivered ‘green’ into completion, while two BBJs and two BBJ2s made up the final customer deliveries. Although no 747 BBJs have been delivered so far in 2012, fortunes were up across the rest of the BBJ range as the company has so far delivered five BBJs and one BBJ2.
Bombardier deliveries across the Challenger, Global and Learjet families topped out at 179 units in 2012, only three aircraft less than the 182 delivered in 2011. JETNET LLC note that in the year-to-date, Bombardier has delivered 127 aircraft, a number that includes the first three Learjet 75s. With the Learjet 70 gaining its type certificate on 12 December, Learjet will be hoping to get the first aircraft to its new owners before the end of the year.
The Cessna delivery numbers make for grim reading, with 86 units delivered so far this year, a 52 per cent drop from the 181 aircraft in 2012. But while the remainder of 2013 will see Cessna rush to deliver the new Citation Sovereign and Citation M2, 2014 should be a turning point for the Wichita-based airframer, as deliveries of the new types ramp up, and customer deliveries of the new Citation X begin.
French manufacturer Dassault delivered three more aircraft in 2012 versus the previous year and looks set to deliver a similar number again in 2013, with JETNET LLC noting 59 deliveries so far in the year. Dassault’s delivery numbers have been bolstered by the first deliveries of the new Falcon 2000S, with six of the new aircraft type delivered.
One manufacturer that’s been missing from the GAMA figures for several years has been Eclipse. Now back with a revamped version of the original Eclipse 500 and new ownership, Eclipse Aerospace has delivered three Eclipse 550s so far in 2013.
Unusually, Embraer delivered exactly the same number of aircraft in 2012 as it did in 2011, with one unit shy of 100 aircraft delivered in each year. 2013 looks to have fewer aircraft delivered, with the current figure standing at 82 units.
Gulfstream is on course to ship the highest number of aircraft for the last five years, with 132 aircraft deliveries so far in 2013. The large number of aircraft can mostly be attributed to the fast paced deliveries of the Savannah airframer’s new G650, with JETNET LLC noting 42 aircraft delivered to new owners in 2013 so far.
Although Hawker deliveries had been falling year-on-year since 2008, the October 2012 announcement that production of jet aircraft would cease saw the Wichita-based airframer begin its final jet deliveries. The delivery wind-down has seen Hawker deliver just six Hawker 4000s so far in the year, with no more shipments expected.
With the end of 2013 rapidly approaching, all eyes will be on the delivery centres to see how many more aircraft can be shipped, although time is running out fast, it’s doubtful that 2013 will reach the delivery numbers of 2012.
Once you’re done reflecting on 2013, have a look at the new private jet models entering the market in 2014 and anticipate a year that looks like (fingers crossed) it will finally bring a pick-up in deliveries.