The business aircraft industry is facing what can only be called a calamity. For months, I've been reporting on the sudden end of good times for a global industry (largely dominated by U.S. manufacturers and American technology) that only six months ago was projecting another record year and anticipating new orders totaling $300 billion in the next decade.
Here's the latest bad news for the industry.
In January, according to Aviation Research Group/US, the number of flights by business jets and turboprops was off 42.5 percent from January 2008. The fractional market was hardest hit, with a 49.6 percent drop. Across the board, the declines by cabin type were: Large cabin jet (minus 38.7 percent); Mid-size jet (minus 45.7 percent); Small cabin jet (minus 47.3 percent); Turboprop (minus 37.4 percent).
Turboprops, by the way, are being more heavily marketed these days by manufacturers like Hawker Beechcraft because of fuel efficiency and because it looks far better to be seen flying a prop plane than a corporate jet, in terms of public perception, which is a huge factor in the distressed state of the business jet market.