Aerospace sales to spring forward

February 3, 2011

FoleyAviation industry analyst Brian Foley, formerly in marketing at Boeing and Dassault Falcon Jet, says the recession is over and the industry can expect a growth spurt, followed by slower, more traditional growth. Foley is president of his consulting firm, BriFo.

As recently as last fall aerospace executives concluded that the low point or “trough” of one of the most severe downturns in recent history—thought to have been reached in 2010—was not over and would continue through 2011. Foley says that is not correct, and predicted the report on deliveries for the first quarter of 2011 will prove him right.

Foley said in a press release that many general aviation segments, including charter and fractional operators, fuel sales, maintenance, and other service providers, are already reporting measurable improvement. Aircraft builders are recovering as well, albeit more slowly. Large-cabin jet manufacturers have experienced an upswing since mid to late 2010, “and the beleaguered smaller aircraft segments will now follow, rounding out the rest of the recovery.”

Foley predicts business-jet deliveries will grow an average of 8 percent per year over the next five years, actually outpacing many industries outside of aviation. “The twist, however, is not the rate per se but the unlikely source of all this growth,” Foley said in his press release. “The large-cabin jets that held their own relatively well during the downturn will grow at a modest 5 percent per year. However, the truly spectacular growth, quite possibly upwards of 20 percent per year, will be seen in segments of the once decimated smaller cabin market.

“This is very positive news, but let's keep it in perspective. It does not imply runaway growth so much as a bounce from unimaginable low delivery levels,” Foley cautioned.

The first indication of whether Foley is correct will come when the General Aviation Manufacturers Association releases delivery statistics for aircraft in the first quarter of 2011. Foley has a good track record. One of his first predictions after starting his consulting company came in 2008, when he predicted the current recession.

“Deliveries will fall precipitously from peak and could take many years to return to those levels. The OEMs have grown fat, dumb, and happy with their current order backlogs and are oblivious to how quickly things will change,” Foley said in September 2008.