Bombardier hopes to keep leading position despite Gulfstream challenge

Smaller aircraft billings jump to $10.4 billion, up 26.4% over last year.

MONTREAL – Bombardier says it can still maintain its position by year-end as the world’s largest business aircraft manufacturer despite falling behind US rival Gulfstream Aerospace Corp. in terms of the value of planes shipped in the second quarter.

“The prospects are still positive for us overall,” said spokeswoman Annie Cossette. “I won’t speculate what position we’ll have until the end of the year but we do believe that No. 1 is still within our reach.”

The US-based Gulfstream shipped 36 aircraft worth US$1.83 billion in the quarter, compared to 45 planes valued at US$1.59 billion for Bombardier, according to the General Aviation Manufacturers Association.

The value of Gulfstream’s shipments doubled from a year earlier when it delivered 21 aircraft. Bombardier shipped one less aircraft this year but the value of planes delivered increased by US$274 million or nearly 18%.

Halfway through the year, the value of Gulfstream’s aircraft shipments was 7.5% greater than its Canadian rival.

Gulfstream spokesman Steve Cass said deliveries increased for the G280 and G650 aircraft, both of which were certified and entered into service in 2012.

“We have publicly announced that we have sold more than 200 G650 aircraft. To date, we have delivered more than 20 G650 aircraft to customers,” he wrote in an email.

Bombardier shipped 14 Global 5000/600, 11 Challenger 605, 16 Challenger 300 and four Learjet 60XR during the quarter. The division of General Dynamics delivered 30 of its 450/550/650 planes and six smaller 150/280 aircraft.

It’s not the first time that Bombardier has slipped down the quarterly ranking. And Cossette said the Montreal-based company anticipated that Gulfstream’s revenues would increase when deliveries started for its new long-range US$65 million G650.

She said expected deliveries in the fourth quarter of its new Learjet 70 and 75 should have a positive impact on Bombardier revenues. Longer term, the manufacturer stands to benefit from a series of new aircraft, including the Global 7000 and 8000, Challenger 350 and Learjet 85.

Overall, the industry association said total worldwide airplane shipments rose 8.9% in the first half of 2013 as billings of various smaller aircraft reached US$10.4 billion, up 26.4% from the prior year. It marked the first time that six-month revenues surpassed US$10 billion since 2008.

Shipments of single, twin and piston-engine airplanes increased, but industry business jet deliveries decreased 4.1% to 283 planes, from 295 a year ago.

“We are encouraged to see a strong increase in billings this quarter, but the mixed results in shipments – and the differences in performance among sectors – emonstrate that general aviation airplane manufacturers still face some strong headwinds as the global economy recovers,” stated General Aviation Manufacturers Association president Pete Bunce.

Montreal-based Bombardier shipped 179 aircraft valued at US$5.8 billion in 2012, compared to 94 aircraft valued at US$4.1 billion by Gulfstream.

©The Canadian Press