Possibly the world’s most recognized advocate, if not expert on the value of Business Aviation,... Read More
Jack Olcott ruminates on a characteristic that has not occurred in nearly two decades: worldwide shipments of turboprop business aircraft and business jets were nearly identical last year.
The Great Recession impacted Business Aviation in profound ways. Financing for aircraft- like other items of capital equipment- essentially disappeared.
Corporations kept their impressive cash balances close at hand- waiting to invest when the overall economy became more predictable. While users of business aircraft continued to believe in the importance of their vehicles as a means of transportation- public perception of the classic ‘corporate jet’ remained questionable.
Within the fog of a troubled economy and considerable uncertainty- new turboprop aircraft appeared to retain at least some of their popularity during the subdued market for business aircraft that followed Lehman Brothers’ bankruptcy on September 15- 2008. Possibly an explanation- if not a definitive reason- for such a situation is the availability of single-engine turboprops offered to buyers. Capital expenditures for these designs are less than the typical business jet. With the difficulty of securing financing for new aircraft resulting in a higher percentage of cash purchases- the lower acquisition price of turboprops may be an incentive to purchase.
Turboprops offer excellent transportation- especially for the typical domestic business trip. (Plane Sense is a well-established fractional provider of Pilatus PC-12 single-engine turboprops. Wheels Up- a new charter provider that began service a few months ago- features an expanding fleet of Beech King Air 350i turboprops.)
Another reason may be the inclusion of utility aircraft (such as single-purpose models designed specifically to be used in aerial application of fertilizers and pesticides). Data from the General Aviation Manufacturers Association list the shipments of two popular agricultural aircraft only for the previous three years in the accompanying graph.
Possibly the character of turboprop vs. business jet shipments displayed in the graph below tells a simpler message. Namely- the Business Aviation community experienced unprecedented circumstances resulting from the Great Recession. Hopefully the marketplace will resume more of its historical form as economic conditions continue to improve.