(Adds comments from executives)
By Allison Lampert and Mike Stone
MONTREAL/WASHINGTON, Feb 19 (Reuters) - Business jet deliveries across the globe hit a decade high in 2019, the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) said on Wednesday, helped by strong market demand for new models.
Deliveries rose 15% from 703 to 809 jets, the highest level since 2009, GAMA said in its 2019 year-end aircraft billing and shipment numbers.
Business jet deliveries are being underpinned by the ramp-up of new models by manufacturers like Bombardier Inc and General Dynamics Corp unit Gulfstream Aerospace that offer longer ranges and amenities such as beds and hot showers at 40,000 feet.
Honeywell Aerospace’s business aviation outlook from last year expects a 7% rise in deliveries in 2020.
Business jet executives who are bringing new planes to market defended the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)’s certification process, which has come under fire following the March global grounding of Boeing’s 737 MAX jet.
Crtics have said the FAA’s long-standing practice of delegating “a high level” of certification tasks to manufacturers like Boeing needs significant reforms to ensure adequate safety oversight. In 2019, a global panel pointed to the FAA’s review of a MAX safety system that was later tied to two crashes that killed 346 people.
Textron Aviation President Ron Draper called the 2019 certification of its super-midsized Cessna Citation Longitude as “the most rigorous certification process on any airplane we’ve done in our history.”
Draper told reporters at a GAMA event in Washington DC that the delegation system overseen by the FAA remains “rigorous,” and it would not make sense to scrap it.
“The FAA orchestrates this like a conductor from the entire process and we have to show compliance on every system every safety aspect of the airplane,” he said.
GAMA said North America accounted for 67.1% of business jet deliveries, the largest market for corporate aircraft followed by Europe.
Gulfstream generated the highest value of deliveries with almost $7.9 billion in billings, followed by Bombardier at $5.7 billion. (Reporting by Allison Lampert in Montreal and Mike Stone in Washington D.C. Editing by Matthew Lewis and Nick Macfie)