New business jets need to be more than good, they also need to be lucky


As well as being a boom for local laser light suppliers and contemporary dance troupes (things that some manufacturers seem to think are as essential to a rollout as a runway) new aircraft launches are also good for aircraft salespeople.

There tend to be two order spikes when aircraft are launched: first when manufacturers start taking orders; and second when the first aircraft are delivered. With six new aircraft set to reach customers in 2018, this should be a better year for people pushing new metal.

The aircraft entering into service in 2018 are all genuinely exciting. The super-versatile Pilatus PC-24 (the first delivery came last year), the Airbus ACJ320neo, Bombardier’s long-range Global 7000, Textron’s super-mid Citation Longitude, and Gulfstream’s G500 and G600 (which replace the strong G450 and G550) all look set to be popular aircraft.

This is partly because established manufacturers do not make bad aircraft any more. Bad ideas are killed long before launch. But this does not stop them from launching unlucky models.

The G650 is a great aircraft but Gulfstream’s timing was serendipitous. Customers placed deposits before the Global Financial Crisis had truly hit and then had a few years before delivery. Other models were not as lucky. The Hawker 4000 and the Premier 1 are good aircraft but suffered when Hawker Beechcraft entered Chapter 11.

Things look better for the models delivering in 2018 – especially with newer pre-owned aircraft being bought quickly. But it is too early to guarantee success.

Cessna’s Citation Mustang is a good aircraft that launched in a strong market. But the model was hit by the credit crunch. Before Lehman Brothers collapsed slots were trading for more than $700,000 above the $2.5 million list price. In late 2008 some customers could not afford to pay for their aircraft or find finance. Textron built Mustangs from 2006 to 2017 but nearly half were delivered in the first two years of the programme, according to analysis by broker jetAVIVA.

We are all hoping that the new models coming this year will be around for a long bull market. As in life, being good is not always enough; you also need to be lucky.

NOTE: The below originally appeared as the editorial in our One Minute Week newsletter. To find out more, and sign up for free, please click here.

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