““[Bill Gates] has been historically one of my best supporters…One of my favorite e-mails he ever sent me…I proposed this crazy project. And he sent back this two-line response: ‘This has got to be the craziest thing you’ve ever suggested. Please proceed.’” ”
2010 Buyers' Guide
Recently released industry forecasts and surveys suggest that interest in business jet travel is on the rise again as fliers revert to their natural consumerist tendencies. Improving economic conditions have yet to translate into an increase in aircraft orders, but the cancellations and deferments that characterized much of 2009 appear to have abated. What's happening now can best be described as a kind of waiting game.
Business jet manufacturers will deliver about 700 airplanes this year, down from a peak of 1,313 in 2008 and 870 last year. The next couple of years will be painful for the business aviation industry as economic uncertainty in Europe and a slow recovery everywhere else weighs on the market. A glut of preowned aircraft inventory, meanwhile, is only making matters worse for manufacturers as potential buyers cull their options from an unprecedented pool of used jets available for sale.
When will the industry turn around? No matter how strongly convinced some insiders had been that the current down cycle was going to translate into a "soft landing" for business aviation after a period of super-heated growth, history once again provided the most accurate barometer of what was about to happen. Thankfully, the past can also give us a clearer understanding of how the transition to the next up cycle will unfold.
In all likelihood, the next two years will be characterized by soft demand for new business jets as the market burns off a preowned aircraft inventory of almost 2,800 airplanes. Flight activity will continue picking up as demand for charter, jet cards and fractional shares starts to stabilize. Then in 2013-assuming those predictions about the Mayan calendar and apocalypse are wrong-the industry will once again begin a sustained period of growth.
Five years from now, older, less efficient aircraft will be reaching retirement and a crop of exciting new models will entice buyers with more comfortable cabins and longer range. Suddenly, a term from the past will again come into vogue, as "pent-up demand" makes a triumphant return. Corporate tire kickers will place orders en masse, interest from buyers in the Middle East, South America and Asia will take off and the fractional providers will begin spooling up by adding airplanes.
Want to get ahead of that crush of demand and ensure that buying the airplane of your dreams doesn't turn into a hurry-up-and-wait-for-it-to-be-built affair? That's where our 2010 Buyers' Guide comes in. In this third annual edition of our award-winning guide you'll find information on more than 180 of the most popular business jets, turboprops and helicopters, including scores of out-of-production models and new models that aren't on the market yet.
Although you might not be in buying mode, you at least should be in the planning phase if you're going to hit the next up cycle prepared to make the proper decisions when the time is right. Our guide breaks down your travel choices with an article by R. Randall Padfield on page 6 that explains how you should be thinking about air charter, jet cards, fractional ownership and whole aircraft purchases in today's market. We follow this up with a step-by-step tutorial covering how and where to book a charter flight, buy a jet card or purchase a fractional share. We then give you a sneak peek of some of those hot new private jets coming to the market in the next few years. And we offer expert advice on
business jet financing in Jeff Wieand's article, which is a must read for anybody looking for a loan.
My personal favorite section of the guide is the
aircraft performance and specification charts, which provide details on each model's chief selling attributes, including price, size, range, speed and nearly two dozen additional characteristics.
I invite you to sit back and take some time reading this special issue. Study it. Jot down notes in the margins.