Textron Aviation’s third-quarter revenues dipped 2 percent to $1.1 billion as commercial turboprop deliveries fell from 57 to 43 in the most recent quarter. Business jet deliveries held steady at 41 in the third quarter of 2018 and backlog jumped by $200 million in the quarter—a gain that Scott Donnelly, chairman and CEO of Textron Aviation parent Textron, said reflects a strengthening market across the board for its product line. The unit ended with a $1.8 billion backlog, up 80 percent from where it was in late 2016 and early 2017.
Donnelly noted the uptick in activity, saying it “continues to be robust.” While too early to provide guidance on 2019 production, he did say, “We will clearly expect to see volumes continue to increase, which will tweak production.” While the turboprop deliveries were down, he said they were more linear than last year, when deliveries were particularly strong in that year's third quarter.
Pointing to the announcement of the agreement with NetJets for the option to buy up to 175 Longitudes, he said NetJets “is going to start ramping up with us working on the sales and marketing effort to the fractional community, and we expect that team will deliver on Longitude much as we've seen it deliver on Latitude in terms of driving volume in the business.” But those aircraft are not yet counted in the backlog. Donnelly said he expects the company to begin firming up orders in the fourth quarter.
As for the Hemisphere, Donnelly expressed confidence in Safran’s progress in implementing fixes to issues surrounding the Silvercrest engine selected to power the aircraft. “We’re very bullish,” he said, but then added: “We do want to see it on the test stand.” Donnelly reiterated that the middle of next year would be a time frame to determine whether “this is a firm go or not.” But in the interim, Textron Aviation is continuing to invest “at some level” in the Hemisphere program, as is NetJets, which additionally had placed options for up to 150 of the large-cabin aircraft that is in the works.