WICHITA – An expected rebound in the small- and medium-sized business jet market this year could be good news for Wichita, which manufactures the aircraft.
While an upswing has been predicted a number of times in the past five years, experts say increasing consumer confidence and low oil prices point to probable growth in the industry, The Wichita Eagle reported.
“2015 is the first year people are going to say, ‘Wow. There’s a recovery,” said Rolland Vincent with Rolland Vincent Consultants. He forecasts that sales will grow to nearly 800 this year, up from the 715 planes he expects will be the final figure for 2014.
Richard Aboulafia with Teal Group, projects orders to increase to around 770 jets this year, with sales topping out at 650 for 2014. He adds that nearly 50 jetliners and regional jets will likely be converted to business aircraft this year.
Aboulafia said he’s “extremely optimistic” that Wichita will benefit from a likely turnaround, as Bombardier Learjet and Textron Aviation, which includes Cessna Aircraft and Beechcraft Corp. – have plants there.
But Vincent thinks orders will plateau in 2019 with about 1,000 units delivered, partly because analysts “don’t have a good understanding of what the manufacturers are going to be doing and what the engine manufacturers are going to be doing.”
Looking even further ahead, Vincent said there’s a need for more pilots in the industry. He said flight training and getting a pilot’s license is expensive.
“Technology is not very affordable for a lot of people,” Vincent said. “I think it’s limiting the pipeline of talent coming into the industry and limiting the number of pilots.”