Bombardier Seeing the Glimmer of a Gradual Comeback

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Global Express XRSBombardier

There is no such thing as "normal" for new business jet sales. It's usually a cycle of extreme highs and deep lows, with occasional periods when the market can't seem to decide which of those two to choose. According to Bombardier Aerospace, the painful debacle from the past two years' economic slowdown is showing signs of abating. But contrasted with the boom immediately preceding the last quarter of 2008, current sales stats can only be described as "not so bad, anymore." For the second quarter of this year, Bombardier reports it sold 26 airplanes — but 12 order holders canceled their sales, for a net uptick of 14. Compared with 2009, that qualifies as just about giddy. The first half of last year saw 27 new orders, but 80 cancellations for a net of minus-53. Because Bombardier builds business jets ranging from "light" (Learjets) to the large-cabin, ultra-long-range Global Express, the company has a good perspective on what segment of the market is doing best. From Bombardier management's perspective, bigger is better. Sales of Global Expresses reflect a 28-month backlog, compared with 26 months for the same time last year. Challengers are not doing as well, the backlog having shrunk from 13 months last year to nine — though within the company's "target range." Bombardier delivered just three Learjets in Q2 this year, compared with 13 for that time frame in 2009.