Rockwell Collins CEO Sees Signs of Turnaround

Bizjet manufacturing poised to rise this year

Business jet manufacturers have again begun ramping up production, signaling the start of a turnaround after three difficult years marked by falling production rates, according to Rockwell Collins chairman and CEO Clay Jones.

"We see a positive direction for the first time" since the downturn began, Jones said of business jet manufacturing, speaking to reporters on an earnings conference call. “There’s no subtlety. They’re going up in rate.”

Jones said business jet production levels should continue to rise in 2012, although he noted that the increased activity likely won’t be felt until the second half of the year. Predicting that bizjet sales this could increase by percentages "in the low double digits" over last year, he said the uptick could be attributed to generally improving economic conditions around the world.

Jones said production rates for midsize and light business jets are starting to improve while sales of small business jets continue to lag. Larger, longer-range business jets, he noted, have proved more resilient. Rockwell Collins supplies cockpit and cabin avionics for a wide range of business aircraft, as well as airliners and military aircraft.

Rockwell Collins reported a 14 percent decline in its fiscal first-quarter earnings, but still beat Wall Street estimates.