Business jet deliveries appear to have remained flat or even dipped slightly in 2012, according to early manufacturer and analyst reports.
Embraer delivered 99 business jets in 2012 – exactly the same number as in 2011. Bombardier’s deliveries were down slightly (when comparing calendar year deliveries), and an industry analyst significantly scaled back its fourth-quarter expectations for Cessna. Hawker Beechcraft, meanwhile, spent the year phasing out its jet production.
Business jet deliveries began on an upswing last year, up more than 13% in the first half. But a slow third quarter, when political and economic uncertainties slowed sales significantly, reversed that trend. Manufacturers were hopeful that once the elections were over, sales would pick up and they would be able to recover by the end of the year.
Initial review of aircraft registrations did show a pickup of new aircraft before the holidays. For instance, Cessna had delivered eight Mustangs in the first two-three weeks of December, but just two in November and one in October, according to initial Aviation Week data. But fourth-quarter surges have been typical for business aircraft manufacturers.
This was particularly true with Embraer, which reported today that it delivered 53 business jets in the fourth quarter – more than half of its full-year total. The company delivered 77 Phenoms on the year, slightly below the 83 delivered in 2011, but still in line with company expectations. The Brazilian airframer shipped 22 Legacys and Lineages, a few more than the company had estimated and up from the 16 delivered in 2011.
Embraer executives had expected a stronger fourth quarter for the company. But overall, the year’s totals were flat with 2011, and company executives have said that 2013 may be just as flat. Embraer’s backlog at the end of the year inched up slightly, from $12.4 billion at the end of the third quarter to $12.5 billion. But that is down from $14.7 billion in the first quarter of 2012.
Bombardier last week also detailed its deliveries, saying it delivered 179 aircraft in 2012. This was down a little from the 182 delivered in 2011 (calendar year. Bombardier’s fiscal 2011 was shortened by a month, which provided a different comparison). Global deliveries improved by one, despite a slowdown early in 2012 to accommodate a flightdeck change.
Learjet deliveries, meanwhile, were slightly behind those of 2011 even though the company underwent a month-long strike and halted production of the Learjet 60. The company further is phasing out production of the 40/45 to accommodate the successors 70/75.
On a bright note, Bombardier ended 2012 with strong order intake, with net orders outpacing deliveries by an almost 2-1 ratio.