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New Reports Show Slow but Steady Growth in Business Aviation

November 26, 2012

Several newly released business aviation market reports show that the industry upturn that began earlier this year is continuing into 2012’s final quarter.

In addition, a major business jet manufacturer is predicting a long period of sustained growth extending well into the next decade, an expansion that will be driven largely by growth in China and other emerging markets.

ARGUS International Inc. reported business aircraft flight activity in October reached its second highest level since January 2009. The number of flights that month increased by 8.1 percent from September, reaching its highest level since March 2011, according to the company’s TRAQPak report, which monitors serial-number-specific aircraft arrival and departure information of all instrument flight rules operations in the U.S. and Canada.

All operational categories saw flight activity increases, with FAR Part 135 operations leading the way with an 11.7 percent gain, followed by growth of 7.5 percent in Part 91 operations and a 2.9 percent increase in the fractional sector. Year-over-year, flight activity increased for all sectors by 2.8 percent, with Part 135 posting a 9.7 percent increase and Part 91 growing more modestly at 1.7 percent. Fractional flight activity fell by 5 percent year-over-year, according to the report.

TRAQPak’s survey followed a report from the General Aviation Manufacturers Association, which said general aviation aircraft shipments and billings through Sept. 30 increased by 4.2 percent to 1,393 aircraft, while the value of those shipments rose 1.4 percent to $12.3 billion, compared to the same period in 2011. Turboprops posted the largest increase (10.5 percent) as total deliveries numbered 368 for the first nine months of 2012. Deliveries of piston-driven aircraft rose by 3.5 percent to 597 units in the first nine months of this year, while business jets posted a slight gain of 0.2 percent, with 428 deliveries through the first three quarters of 2012.

Finally, Brazil’s Embraer Executive Jets forecast that total business jet deliveries could reach 650 units in China by 2022, accounting for a total value of about $24 billion and representing roughly 9 percent of the total business jet market worldwide. The report, which was issued during the 9th China International Aviation & Aerospace Exhibition (Airshow China 2012), said the country today boasts a fleet of about 267 business jets, up from just 78 jets in 2007. Embraer said 77 percent of China’s business aircraft fleet today is made up of super mid-size to ultra large jets.

These reports come on the heels of several surveys published in October during NBAA’s 65th Annual Meeting & Convention (NBAA2012) in Orlando.

Honeywell’s 21st Annual Business Aviation Forecast predicted that nearly 10,000 new business jets, valued at about $250 billion, will be delivered between 2012 and 2022. The company also officially labeled 2011 as the trough of the downturn that began in 2009, and it predicted a 9 percent gain in deliveries in 2012 over last year.

JETNET also said it expected a period of sustained growth that will extend well into the next decade. It predicted in its most recent JETNET iQ report that 10,424 business jets, with a total value of $253 billion, will be delivered through 2022. JETNET also labeled 2011 the trough of the downturn in aircraft deliveries.