Despite an early threat of rain, the late afternoon sky at the airport was deep blue with just a few puffy white clouds. The temperature was perfect and a quarter of a billion dollars of gleaming business aircraft were artfully positioned inside a spotless hangar and outside on the tarmac.
The 10 planes and one helicopter were all open for invited guests to touch, feel, inspect, experience, ask questions of the onsite manufacturer’s representatives and speak with the flight crews. The event, “An Evening in Aviation” was held recently at Washington Dulles International Airport in suburban Washington, D.C. It was sponsored by PNC Aviation Finance and AVPRO, an aircraft brokerage, acquisition and consulting firm.
The private atmosphere afforded guests a rare opportunity to do some side-by-side comparison shopping among various aircraft sizes and capabilities. It also provided a venue where aircraft owners, operators and prospective buyers could discuss the financial side of business aviation, including aircraft financing options.
Event sponsor PNC Aviation Finance has been the country’s No. 1 financier of business aircraft loans each year since 2009, a long-running track record demonstrating the nearly 40-person team’s deep expertise and broad product set.
“Faced with crowded airports, jam-packed commercial planes and ever-present flight delays, corporate executives and high-net worth individuals are increasingly turning to private aviation,” said Alex Overstrom, head of PNC Aviation Finance.
Business aircraft relieve the time constraints of commercial flying, makes travel time more productive and allows users to take advantage of smaller airports that can be significantly more convenient.
Record levels in the stock markets, growing corporate earnings, a strong U.S. dollar and increasing consumer and business confidence are driving demand for private aircraft.
During the recent National Business Aviation Association Convention in Las Vegas, Nevada, manufacturers had approximately 100 aircraft on display, including several high-end models that were making their public debuts.
“A business aircraft is a sign of a well-managed company,” said Ed Bolen, President and CEO of the NBAA. “Companies that use business aviation return more to shareholders than companies that do not.”
According to data from AMSTAT, pre-owned business jet sales hit a record in the first 9 months of the year, with more than 1,600 transactions taking place, up 8% from the same period last year.
Moreover, available inventory declined for the 5th straight quarter to 10.4% of all U.S. business jets, below pre-crisis levels.
And this trend is expected to continue. An October 2017 forecast of the business aviation marketplace by Jetcraft says the number of business aircraft likely will grow 33 percent over the next 10 years, with the sales trend moving to the new larger wide body business jets over the more traditional narrow body aircraft.
At that delivery pace, the latest Honeywell Global Business Aviation Outlook estimates 830 new private jets will be delivered each year over the next 10 years. The last time more than 800 jets were delivered in a single year was in 2009.
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