After years of record prosperity and sales, the business jet industry went into a nose dive at the end of 2008.
No one yet has a firm handle on the situation (the General Aviation Manufacturers Association is issuing an industry review on Feb. 17), but it's obviously dire, with corporate flight departments cutting back or bailing out entirely, and with a glut of used planes on the market.
More background on that later, but stats released today by Aviation Research Group/US show a sharp drop in domestic flight departures in December. Compared with December 2007, departures of business aircraft were down 22.8 percent.
(On the other hand, the December figures showed an improvement over November 2008, when departures were down 33 percent.)
Here's a breakdown of the December departures:
--Departures of "Part 91 aircraft" -- corporate and private aircraft (jets and turbo-props) were down 15.3 percent, with the biggest drop (not counting turbo props, which were off 23.2 percent) in large-cabin jets (off 16.9 percent).
--Departures of "Part 135" aircraft -- that is, aircraft used for charters, were down 33.3 percent, with the biggest drop in large-cabin jets (down 44 percent).
--Departures of fractionals were down 32.1 percent, though the biggest drop was in small-cabin jets (down 44.2 percent).
Aviation Research Group/U.S., Inc. provides specialized aviation services to companies that manufacture, finance, operate, maintain, and market commercial and business aircraft, as well providing products and services to end-user consumers worldwide. It also performs on-site safety audits for corporate flight departments, charter operators, and commercial airlines.