The latest data from the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) shows unit business jet deliveries increased last year. The annual databook reported 703 new business jets sold worldwide in 2018 compared to (a slightly revised) 677 unit sales in 2017. The increase was helped by several recent model introductions. Here are some of the highlights and the sales by manufacturer.

The table below shows the unit sales by manufacturer.

    Manufacturer   2018   2017   Change
 Airbus  1  0  1
 Boeing  6  10  (4)
 Bombardier  137  138  (1)
 Cirrus  63  22  41
 Dassault  41  49  (8)
 Embraer  91  109  (18)
 Gulfstream  121  120  1
 Honda  37  43  (6)
 One Aviation  0  6  (6)
 Pilatus  18  0  18
 Textron Aviation (Cessna)  188  180  8
 Total  703  677  26

The most significant model sales included the following:


  60 aircraft for Challenger 300/350 - super mid-size, with transcontinental U.S. range
  41 aircraft for Global 5000/6000/Express - large ultra-long range business jets


  63 aircraft for SF50 - very light (or personal) jet, with a 1,300 nm range


  53 aircraft for Phenom 300/E - light jet, with a range of about 2,000nm


  92 aircraft for G300/350/400/450/500/550/650/650ER - large to very long range jets


  34 aircraft for Citation M2 - light jet
  37 aircraft for Citation CJ3+ - light jet
  29 aircraft for Citation CJ4 - light jet
  57 aircraft for Citation Latitude - mid-size jet 

While there was an increase in the number of new jets sold, the total market value of business jet sales was down 0.8% to $17.9bn in 2018, compared to $18.0bn in 2017. This reflects the mix of planes, with increasing sales of (lower price) light jets such as the new Pilatus PC-24, the Cirrus Vision SF50, and various Cessna models but lower unit sales of bigger jets, particularly at Boeing and Dassault.   

As in prior years, North America is by far the largest market for business jets at almost 65.1% of the market. Europe is next and represented about 15.4% of the market in 2018. Market shares in the rest of the world saw slight increases in Asia and Latin America and a slight drop in the Middle East and Africa, compared to the prior year.

In the very large sector, where Airbus and Boeing convert their commercial jets for private use, Boeing has been leading the field for the last few years, and this continued in 2018. 

GAMA reports (based on the latest FAA survey) that the total number of active business jets in the US is 14,217 and expects this to increase to 17,730 by 2027. Of this total 1,880 are personal, 8,747 are used for business (FAR part 91), 2,876 are on part 135 charter certificates and the rest have a variety of uses. In comparison, there are 1,660 turboprops and 1,567 piston engined planes under FAR part 135.

The other highlights in the GAMA Annual Report include:

  • Worldwide new turboprop airplane shipments increased 5.2% from 563 units in 2017 to 601 units in 2018. The estimated billings for turboprops was $1,781m, for an average of $2.96m per plane. The three biggest selling new turboprops were the Pilatus P2-12 with 80 unit sales, the Cessna Grand Caravan with 79 unit sales and the King Air 350 which sold 52 units.
  • Worldwide piston-engine airplane shipments rose 6.9% from (a revised) 1,218 units in 2017 to 1,302 units in 2018. The estimated billings for piston-engine planes was $866m, for an average of about $665k per plane.
  • According to numbers from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the number of active pilots reached 633,318 at the end of 2018, an increase of 4 per cent. The report notes that "The largest driver of the increase in pilots was a 12 percent increase in the number of student pilot certificate holders, which reached 167,804 at the end of 2018," which is a really good sign, given the overall shortage of pilots.
  • The average hours flown by business jets was 286 hours per year (2017 numbers), whereas the average usage for turboprops was 264 hours (2017 numbers). For both types of aircraft, those under part 135 charter certificates tend to do a lot more hours per year, over 350 on average for jets and over 440 for turboprops.
  • The total hours flown by all US business jets in 2017 (latest data) was 4.1 million hours. The FAA is forecasting this will increase to over 5 million hours by 2020 and over 6 million by 2027. In comparison the total hours flown by US turboprops stays fairly constant in the range of 2.6 - 2.8 million hours over this forecast period.
  • The FAA estimates that the average fuel consumption rate for a jet is 296.1 gallons per hour, compared to only 75.6 gallons per hour for a turboprop. (Note these will vary very widely, depending on the plane, the flight duration and weather conditions amongst other things).
  • The average age of US registered jets was 16 years. In comparison single engine turboprops average 14.2 years and multi-engine turboprops average 29.0 years.

The full GAMA "2018 Annual Report" is available on the GAMA website.