Textron CEO sees positive signs for increasing jet sales

Though jet deliveries dipped slightly in the first quarter for Wichita’s Textron Aviation, the CEO of parent company Textron Inc. (NYSE: TXT), Scott Donnelly, said Tuesday that he sees positive signs that sales will increase.Donnelly, speaking to investors following the release of the company’s first-quarter earnings results, said that customer conversations about new sales are increasing, even during the traditionally slow first quarter of a year. “Customer activity is as strong as we’ve seen in awhile,” Donnelly said.

Add to that the ever-shrinking number of used jets on the market, and the increasing pricing on those aircraft and what Donnelly said is stable pricing on new models, and the market shows positive signs for a growing number of new sales. “As we see those residual values rebound, we definitely think it bodes well,” he said. Donnelly also said that as the company’s Cessna Citation Latitude continues to progress, with flight testing now complete customer interest in the new model should help add to a backlog that dropped $99 million from the end of last year.

And, he said, he also expects some conversions from Hawker customers — one of the brands folded into Textron Aviation following Textron’s purchase of Beechcraft last year, but no longer being produced — to newer Cessna products like the Latitude and eventually the Citation Longitude.

For now, Donnelly said, the most demand for Cessna Citations is in North America, while the turboprop Beechcraft King Airs are getting more traction internationally. The company delivered 25 King Airs in the first quarter. That was up from the 22 delivered in the first quarter last year, during which Textron closed on its deal for Beechcraft in March. According to data from the General Aviation Manufacturers Association, eight of those deliveries were attributed to Textron Aviation.

ur expectations,” he said.

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