Business aviation has taken a hit from both the economic downturn and also from negative media coverage but there now appears to be light at the end of the tunnel. An extensive piece in General Aviation News has recently reported that in its 18th edition of the annual Business Aviation Outlook, Honeywell is forecasting the delivery of about 11,000 new business jets from 2009 through 2019 with heavy purchases predicted in various emerging markets around the world. Honeywell is also predicting the market to bottom out by 2010.
Moreover, General Aviation News also recently had another story featuring Piedmont Aircraft Co. which, although only founded earlier this year, is selling planes even in the current down market. The article quotes their CEO as saying:
“Even in this market—which is one of the toughest markets we have seen in years—there are buyers out there. It’s a question of matching the right buyer with the right seller — at the right price. It’s about tactfully educating the seller as to what their airplanes are worth when we’re in this down-cycle. Sellers have to adjust their expectations and once you get that expectation set correctly, there are buyers ready to capitalize on depressed values.”
Who is buying aircraft right now? The Wall Street Journal recently noted that airport discomforts and the stress of commercial flying is prompting business owners to become pilots. In addition, the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) has also released a study that found that business aircraft users “had a dominant presence, on average of 92%, among the most innovative, most admired, best brands, and best places to work, as well as dominating the list of companies strongest in corporate governance and responsibility” (General Aviation News has summarized the study’s findings).
All of this is good news for anyone involved in business or general aviation and especially for places like Wichita Kansas where Beech Aircraft (now Hawker Beechcraft), Cessna Aircraft and LearJet (now Bombardier) were founded (In fact, Wichita bills itself as the “Air Capital Of The World” and there have been concerns that it could go the way of Detroit).