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EBACE 2010: Is the road to recovery here?

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The short answer: Hard to tell.

GENEVA -- A year ago I wrote that the absence of players like Hawker Beechcraft and Cessna defined the state of the industry. The absence of these Wichita-based heavy hitters showed just how far the market had fallen in a short time: Production rates cut, programs shelved, workforces cut. In short, EBACE 2009 was the bottom. 

A year later, signs of recovery are coming to the fore. Corporate profits, business aviation's leading indicator, are rebounding, driving aircraft utilization and reinvigorating demand for aircraft.

Early signs illustrate that the trends continue to focus on getting the most out of existing aircraft with the addition of fuel-saving winglets, new avionics, interiors and engines, continuing to signal that if customers are spending money, it's on their existing fleets.

One new addition to this show is the return of discussion about new aircraft. While no new clean designs are expected to be announced this week, below the surface there is an audible buzz about new models (or the re-launch of new models) on the horizon from companies like Gulfstream, Bombardier, Hawker Beechcraft and Cessna.

Just as the Singapore air show lacked major order announcements, the theme focused on the work going on behind the scenes as the aerospace industry prepared for the full recovery in the years to come. While an optimistic mood already permeates the show in great contrast to last year, the industry continues its quiet hibernation on the road to recovery.

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