The year 1968 found the United States embroiled in a presidential election as hotly contested as the 2016 race, with political differences defined just as sharply.
When it comes to business jets, one major difference between 1968 and 2016 is the sheer number of makes and models available. Back then you could select from one of ten models, built by one of nine manufacturers. Those ten models came in three sizes: small, medium, and large – and there were only two in that last category. It was business aviation’s slight variation on Henry Ford’s famous 1909 marketing maxim, “Any customer can have a car painted any color that he wants so long as it is black.”
Now to be fair, the industry was limited by available engine technology. Even the most popular engine, which powered the light jets, burned more than 250 gallons per hour. Building anything that carried more than six passengers more than about 1,200 miles was just not possible – and only the large cabin Gulfstream II could cross the Atlantic without stopping in Iceland to refuel.
Fast forward to 2016. Today new, quieter, more fuel efficient engines abound, and there now are fifty models from which to choose, in eight sizes, with seven more due for initial delivery by 2020, all capable of intercontinental flight. And that’s not counting the various supersonic aircraft under development (See this issue’s “Booming Business”).
Those seven NextGen jets will offer the latest in engine, airframe, and avionics technology. So if you like to own or operate the “latest and greatest,” and your aircraft replacement acquisition cycle occurs after the certification of the new Citation, Embraer, Falcon, or Gulfstream aircraft is complete, then it’s time to put your money down.
But unless you’ve already placed your order, you’ll likely miss taking delivery of the first aircraft. The first year’s production run for each is already spoken for – and that means either keeping the aircraft you now have longer than you intended, or shopping for a new or used interim jet, to keep you flying cost effectively until the new models arrive.
The good news is that, thanks to the recent economic slowdown, there are plentiful opportunities for you to acquire a brand spanking new, current production aircraft at a favorable price. And, as Don Dwyer describes in “Don’t Count Out the OEMs,” the total cost to purchase, operate, and trade that new interim aircraft may well be comparable to holding onto your older one for a few years longer.
The table is set for 2017, and new options are served!