Major Business Aircraft Manufacturers at a Glance

Shopping for an airplane or helicopter? Start by reading the key facts about the airframers whose products you're considering.

Airbus

Founded: 1970
HQ: Toulouse, France
Top executive: Guillaume Faury, CEO
Employees: 131,000
Phone: +33 5 81 31 75 00

Airbus is a multinational aerospace conglomerate. The company traces its roots to the formation of the Airbus Industrie GIE consortium in 1970 and is the result of decades of European aerospace consolidation efforts designed to compete with American defense and aerospace monoliths.

Airbus launched its first passenger jet, the A300, in 1972. The model was revolutionary; it was not only the world's first widebody twin-engine passenger jet but also marked the initial offering from what would become Europe's largest aerospace and defense company.

The years following the launch of the A300 were marked by intensive consolidation and further aircraft development, with the release of the A300B2 (1974), the Tornado multirole combat jet (1974), the A310 (1982), and the ubiquitous A320 family of jets (1987). In 1991, Airbus launched the ultra-long-range A340 four-engine passenger jet, and the A330 followed in 1992. Additional fixed-wing developments in the 1990s included the launch of the A300-600 Beluga transporter (1994), the first flight of the Eurofighter (1994), the standing-up of Airbus Industrie's Large Aircraft Division, the development of the A380 (1996), and the first flight of the C295 (1997).

Airbus forayed into the corporate jet market in 1997 with the release of the A319 Corporate Jet. The A320 family was an easy first choice for the development of a VIP transport aircraft, but offerings across the Airbus product line have emerged over the decades. Today, the Airbus Corporate Jets (ACJ) business unit offers the ACJ TwoTwenty, ACJ319neo, ACJ320neo, ACJ330neo, and ACJ350 XWB. ACJ330 and ACJ320 aircraft are now exclusively offered with the New Engine Option (neo), which provides customers with a choice between the Pratt & Whitney PW1100G and CFM International LEAP-1A engines.

Airbus—which maintains roughly 180 global locations—has delivered close to 13,000 aircraft since the launch of the A300.

Airbus Helicopters

Founded: 1992
HQ: Marignane, France
Top executive: Bruno Even, CEO
Employees: 20,000
Phone: +33 (0)4 42 85 85 85

Airbus Helicopters is the rotorcraft wing of Airbus, Europe's largest aerospace and defense conglomerate. The company was founded as Eurocopter Group after a merger between the helicopter divisions of Aérospatiale and DaimlerChrysler Aerospace (DASA).

Airbus Helicopters has been a pioneer in rotorcraft development for decades. Legacy company Aérospatiale developed the world's first turboshaft-powered helicopter in 1955, the Alouette II, as well as the "Fenestron" shrouded tail rotor design, which debuted on the Gazelle in 1968. In both civil and military applications, Airbus's helicopters have proven to be bestsellers with a reputation for ruggedness and durability. They sport features such as full flight capabilities in icing conditions and fly-by-light digital flight controls. Airbus helicopter variants have also accomplished high-profile feats never attempted by other rotorcraft, such as the 2005 landing of an AS350 B3 at the peak of Mt. Everest.

Eurocopter was officially rebranded as Airbus Helicopters in 2014, after 22 years of operation as Eurocopter SA and Eurocopter SAS. Rotorcraft names were changed across the board, with each receiving a new numerical designation with an "H" prefix.

The Airbus Helicopters product line includes entries in the intermediate-single segment (H125 and H130), light-twin segment (H135, H145), medium and super-medium segments (H155, H160, H175), and heavy segment (H215, H225). In 2017, Airbus Helicopters launched the Airbus Corporate Helicopters (ACH) business unit, a luxury corporate helicopter development wing mirrored after the successful Airbus Corporate Jets model. ACH offers up-market VIP variants of the H125, H130, H135, H145, H160, and H175, positioning an offering in every segment from intermediate single to super-medium. Cabin configurations and design characteristics are customizable to consumer preference, and most feature extended ranges over their base-model counterparts.

Airbus Helicopters is headquartered at the Marseille Provence Airport in Marignane, France. The company is currently developing the RACER compound, high-speed civil helicopter and the CityAirbus eVTOL.

Bell

Founded: 1935
HQ: Fort Worth
Top executive: Mitch Snyder, president and CEO
Employees: 7,000
Phone: (817) 280-2011

Bell, a subsidiary of Textron, is an aerospace manufacturer that has developed both civilian and military aircraft and rotorcraft since 1935. Lawrence Dale Bell founded the original company, Bell Aircraft Corporation, in Buffalo, New York. The company now specializes in rotorcraft development and manufacturing.

In its early years, Bell focused on fighter aircraft. The company's founding coincided with the build-up for World War II, and Bell consequently developed aircraft such as the XFM-1 Airacuda and P-39 Airacobra during the war years. The Bell P-59 Airacomet, the first American jet-powered fighter, took its first flight in 1942 but was never adopted for service.

In 1941, Bell hired engineer Arthur M. Young, who would provide the knowledge and innovative spirit required for the development of the company's first helicopters. Bell's initial civilian-certified offering, the Bell 47, first took flight in December 1942, marking the beginning of a long and illustrious development path that continues to this day.

Textron purchased Bell, then known as Bell Aerospace, in 1960, just after the introduction of the Bell 204. This turboshaft-powered helicopter was the first in the line of ubiquitous Huey-family rotorcraft and was designed initially to meet the U.S. Army's requirements for a utility rotorcraft. In the military role, the type was designated the HU-1 and later UH-1. The image of the Huey family is intrinsically connected to the rotorcraft's enormous involvement in the Vietnam War, during which it served both the U.S. Army and Marine Corps. The combat-tested reputation of the UH-1 translated into strong civilian sales of the 204 and 205 models, and later into sales of the 212, 214, 214ST, 407, 412, and more.

In 1976, Textron rebranded the Bell Helicopter division as Bell Helicopter Textron. This designation remained until 2018 when the company was officially renamed Bell.

Currently, Bell manufactures the 505, 407, 429, 412, and 525 rotorcraft for the civilian market. Maximum passenger counts range from four in the 505 to 16 in the 525. The company is also developing a series of unmanned aerial vehicles called Autonomous Pod Transports (APT) for cargo delivery.

Boeing

Founded: 1916
HQ: Arlington, Virginia
Top executive: Dave Calhoun, president and CEO
Employees: 141,000
Phone: (312) 544-2000

The Boeing Company is a defense and aerospace manufacturing organization and one of the largest defense contractors in the world based on dollar value. It has operations in 65 countries and maintains offerings across the aerospace realm, manufacturing aircraft, rotorcraft, rockets, satellites, and communications equipment for civilian and military clients.

Lumber industrialist William Boeing founded the company in 1916 in Seattle. Originally named the Pacific Aero Products Co., it designed its first aircraft in the same year: the B&W Seaplane (named for its joint development by Boeing and Conrad Westervelt). The company was renamed Boeing Airplane Company in 1917 and Boeing Airplane & Transport Corporation in 1928.

By the close of the 1920s, Boeing had found success in the aerospace market and purchased several aircraft makers, such as Sikorsky Aviation, Pratt & Whitney, Avion, Chance Vought, and Hamilton Metalplane. Following these acquisitions, Boeing Airplane & Transport Corporation became United Airplane & Transport Corporation. The venture lasted until 1934 when regulatory mandates forced the separation of air transport and aircraft manufacturing. Three major groups emerged from the disbanding of the United Airplane & Transport Corporation: Boeing Airplane Company, United Aircraft, and United Airlines. United Aircraft would eventually become United Technologies.

Boeing became one of the largest aerospace companies in the world after its merger with McDonnell Douglas in 1997. In 2018, Boeing completed its largest acquisition since 1997, with a $4.25 billion purchase of aerospace parts distributor KLX.

Boeing's civil aircraft offerings include the 737, 767, 777, and 787. The 737 has been a bestseller since its first flight in 1967, with more than 10,500 deliveries to date. The company's civilian aircraft division, Boeing Commercial Airplanes, also produces the Boeing Business Jet (BBJ) series. Narrowbody models of the BBJ are based on variants of the 737, while widebody models include offerings based on the 747, 777, and 787 platforms. These aircraft compete primarily with the Airbus Corporate Jets line.

Bombardier

Founded: 1942
HQ: Montréal
Top executive: Éric Martel, president and CEO
Employees: 15,800
Phone: (514) 861-9481

A standalone business jet manufacturer since January 2021, Bombardier manufactures and supports Challengers and Globals, spanning the super-midsize to ultra-long-range jet categories.

In 1942 Joseph-Armand Bombardier, a Canadian inventor and entrepreneur, established a company to market his “snow vehicle,” or snowmobile. Four decades later, in 1986, Bombardier expanded into aerospace, acquiring Canadair, which had developed the Challenger 600 series business jet (which begat Canadair Regional Jets). In 1989, Bombardier bought Northern Ireland’s Short Brothers; in 1990, it acquired the Learjet Corporation, whose midsize Learjet 60 first flew later that year; and in 1992, it purchased a majority stake in De Havilland Aircraft of Canada. The first member of its ultra-long-range Global family, the Express, flew in 1996, followed by the Challenger 300 in 2001.

In 2014, amid parent-company losses, Bombardier Business Aircraft became a Bombardier Aerospace division, as did the conglomerate’s commercial aircraft business. In 2017, Bombardier partnered with Airbus to market its resource-draining C Series commercial jets, and the following year it sold the Q Series commercial turboprop program and its Business Aircraft Training division to focus on business aircraft, aerostructures, and other transportation-segment opportunities. 

In December 2018, the flagship Global 7500 entered service. More than 4,700 Bombardier business aircraft are now in operation worldwide.

The company's business jets include Challengers (CL350 super-mid, CL650 large cabin); and ultra-long-range Globals (Global 5000, 5500, 6000, 6500, 7500, 8000). (The Global 8000 is a faster and longer-range version of the 7500.) The company continues to provide product support for the discontinued Learjet line. A revised version of the Challenger 350, the Challenger 3500, will begin deliveries in the second half of 2022.

Bombardier-owned and -authorized service facilities and mobile response teams provide global assistance from AOG recovery to major repairs, overhauls, and interior refurbishments. The company also buys, takes in trade, and sells preowned Bombardier aircraft.

Cirrus

Founded: 1984
HQ: Duluth, Minnesota
Top executive: Zean Nielsen, CEO 
Employees: 2,100
Phone: (218) 529-7200

Cirrus manufactures the SR line of piston-powered single-engine aircraft and the SF50 series of single-engine fanjet aircraft. The company is owned by the China Aviation Industries General Aircraft (CAIGA) division of state-owned AVIC. 

Daher

Founded: 1863
HQ: Orly, France
Top executive: Didier Kayat, CEO 
Employees: 9,500
Phone: 33 (0) 1 49 75 98 00

Daher is a diversified aircraft manufacturing, aerospace equipment and systems, and logistics and supply-chain-services company that can trace its aviation roots back to 1911 with the founding of the Morane-Saulnier Aircraft Company. It produces the Kodiak and TBM lines of single-engine turboprops and manufactures components for other airframers. 

Dassault

Founded: 1929
HQ: Paris
Top executive: Éric Trappier, chairman and CEO
Employees: 12,400
Phone: +33 (0) 1 47 11 40 00

Dassault Aviation, a division of France’s Dassault Group, manufactures Falcon business jets, known for their performance efficiency and technically advanced systems, as well as military aircraft, 3D CAD/CAM engineering systems, and ancillary aerospace products.

Founded by aeronautical engineer Marcel Dassault (née Bloch) in 1929, the company had a rich history of military and civil aircraft production before it entered the business aviation market, but it abandoned its first design, 1954’s Méditerranée twinjet, for cost and fuel-consumption reasons. Acting on Charles Lindbergh’s recommendation, Pan Am founder Juan Trippe ordered 40 Falcon 20 twinjets, Dassault’s first production business jet, for U.S. distribution, with deliveries commencing in 1965. To provide factory support for its jets, Dassault established what is now Dassault Falcon Service in 1967.

Federal Express launched its delivery service in 1972 with a Falcon 20 fleet, and Dassault and Pan Am jointly formed Falcon Jet Corp. to service and sell Falcons that same year. The Falcon 50, Dassault’s first production trijet and first civil aircraft with a composite control surface (the aileron), was certified in 1979, and the following year Dassault acquired Pan Am’s stake in Falcon Jet Corp. (renamed Dassault Falcon Jet Corp. in the mid-1990s). The 900 trijet series entered service in 1986, and the Falcon 2000 midsize twinjet joined the fleet in 1995, with both aircraft undergoing upgrades under new model designations in the years since.

Using its own CATIA system—now the industry standard—Dassault began designing aircraft exclusively on 3D CAD/CAM computers in 2000. Business aviation revenues exceeded military sales for the first time in 2005.

The ultra-long-range Falcon 7X trijet, the first fly-by-wire business jet, entered service in 2007, and its Enhanced Flight Vision System was certified in 2010. The follow-on, longer-range 8X entered service in 2016. Falcon unveiled a super-midsize Falcon 5X in 2013, but it canceled the program in 2017 due to development problems with the Snecma Silvercrest engines. In 2018, the airframer debuted the derivative Falcon 6X, slated for service entry in 2022. The company introduced a new flagship, the large-cabin, long-range Falcon 10X twinjet, in 2021. Deliveries of that aircraft are expected to begin in 2025. 

Dassault's product line includes the Falcon 2000LXS super-mid twinjet, Falcon 900LX large-cabin trijet, and Falcon 7X and 8X ultra-long-range trijets. The company has service centers and satellite facilities in the U.S., France, Italy, Brazil, and Africa.

Embraer Executive Jets

Founded: 1969
HQ: São Paulo
Top executive:Francisco Gomes Neto, president and CEO
Employees: 18,000
Phone: +55 12 3927 1000

A division of Embraer, the Brazilian aircraft manufacturer, Embraer Executive Aircraft produces business jets spanning the light- to large-cabin categories.

Seeking to expand beyond its civil and military markets, Brazil’s Empresa Brasileira de Aeronáutica (Embraer) embarked in the mid-1990s on a business jet development program, and in 2000 the airframer introduced the Legacy 600. Based on Embraer’s ERJ 145 regional jet, the Legacy 600 entered service in 2002, and with prospects bright, the company established Embraer Executive Jets (EEJ) in 2005 and introduced the clean-sheet Phenom 100 VLJ and Phenom 300 light jets that same year. The flagship Lineage 1000, a 19-passenger derivative of its E190 airliner, debuted in 2006.

EEJ brought fly-by-wire to midsize jets with the launch of the Legacy 450 and 500 in 2008, and it opened service centers in Mesa, Arizona, and Fort Lauderdale, Florida, that same year. The Legacy 650, an upgraded, longer-range derivative of the Legacy 600, debuted in 2009. A vote of confidence came in 2010 with a firm order from fractional fleet operator NetJets for 50 Phenom 300s and options on an additional 75—a deal worth more than $1 billion.

EEJ began assembling Phenom 100s at a new facility in Melbourne, Florida, in 2011; it brought the assembly of Phenom 300s to the site in the same year and started making Legacy 450/500s there in 2016.

A fleet-refreshment program begat the Lineage 1000E (Enhanced), with upgraded cabin, cockpit, and range (2013); the Phenom 100E, with multifunction spoilers (2014) and 100EV (Evolution), with upgraded powerplant and avionics (2016); the Legacy 650E, adding synthetic vision and auto-throttle (2016); and the Phenom 300E, with new interior and avionics (2017). Meanwhile, fractional fleet operator Flexjet added the Phenom 300 to its program in 2014, and the Legacy 450 and 500 in 2016.

Embraer announced that it was discontinuing its Legacy 450, 500, and 650, as well as the Lineage 1000, in 2020. Current production business aircraft include the 100EV, 300E, the midsize Praetor 500, and the super-midsize Praetor 600.

Embraer spun off its EVE eVTOL division as a separate, publicly traded company in 2022 after accumulating potential orders for 1,700 aircraft valued at more than $5 billion.

Gulfstream

Founded: 1958
HQ: Savannah, Georgia
Top executive: Mark Burns, president
Employees: 13,000
Phone: (800) 810-4853

Gulfstream Aerospace focuses on the large-cabin market, manufacturing business jets capable of intercontinental operations. The company, a division of U.S. defense contractor General Dynamics, also provides sales and refurbishment services for preowned Gulfstream aircraft.

The company was established in 1958 as an outgrowth of Grumman Aircraft Engineering Co., which developed the Gulfstream 1, a 12-passenger turboprop business aircraft. The success of that model led to the jet-powered Gulfstream II. In 1966, Grumman moved its civil-aircraft production to Savannah, Georgia; and in 1978, the Gulfstream line and Savannah plant were purchased by American Jet Industries, headed by Allen Paulson, and its name changed to Gulfstream American. 

In the 1980s, the GIII came to market; the company’s name changed again, this time to Gulfstream Aerospace; Chrysler bought the company; and the Gulfstream IV was introduced. At the end of the 1980s, Paulson repurchased Gulfstream with private equity firm Forstmann Little & Co. The 1990s brought Gulfstream’s first sales contract with NetJets, the introduction of the GV, and in 1999, the company’s purchase by General Dynamics.

In the 2000s, Gulfstream bought Galaxy Aerospace, developing its midsize jets into the G100 and G200, and purchased its first service facility outside the U.S. Gulfstream also introduced the G550 and G650 and brought Enhanced Vision Systems and internet connectivity to business aircraft. This decade saw the introduction of the 650ER and the G500 and G600 super-midsize jets.

The product line includes the G280, a super-midsize model introduced in 2008 with 3,000-nautical-mile range; G500/600, a pair of long-range jets introduced in 2014 that feature the Symmetry Flight Deck and fly-by-wire flight controls; and 650ER, the current flagship ultra-long-range jet 7,500-nautical-mile range. 

Work continues on testing Gulfstream's largest aircraft, the G700, which is slated to enter service later this year. The airframer announced the G700 in 2019. The G700 has the same fly-by-wire flight controls with active control sidesticks as the G500/G600 and the Honeywell Epic-based Symmetry avionics suite, with multiple touchscreen displays. 

In 2021, Gulfstream announced two additions to its family of large-cabin jets: the G800 and the G400. The G800, which will ultimately replace the G650ER as the airframer’s longest-range jet, stretches its predecessor’s—as well as the G700’s—range by 500 nautical miles, to 8,000 nautical miles. It retains the fuselage dimensions of the G650 line while receiving a host of updates from the G700, including the Symmetry touchscreen flight deck with active control sidesticks, interior elements, wings, and Rolls-Royce Pearl 700 engines. Scheduled to enter service in early 2025, the new G400 offers a range of 4,200 nautical miles and fills a niche held by the G450, which ceased production in 2018. It will be appointed similarly to the G500 and G600 but will have a shorter fuselage and a different variant of the Pratt & Whitney PW800 engine—the PW812GA.

Gulfstream operates a global network of service centers for maintenance and repairs. It refurbishes its aircraft interiors at a purpose-built facility in Savannah.

Honda Aircraft

Founded: 2006
HQ: Greensboro, North Carolina
Top executive: Hideto Yamasaki, president and CEO
Employees: 1,500
Phone: (336) 662-0246

Honda Aircraft Company manufacturers the HA-420 HondaJet. The aircraft was first delivered in 2015 and by 2017 was the world’s most-delivered light jet. The current iteration of the aircraft is the HondaJet Elite S. The twinjet features a patented over-the-wing engine mount as well as turbofans that the airframer’s parent, Japan’s Honda Motor Company, developed in partnership with General Electric.

In 2021, Honda unveiled a concept for its next aircraft. The HondaJet 2600 would be a larger light jet with a transcontinental range of 2,625 nautical miles and a midsize-jet cabin that seats up to 11 passengers. 

The design is similar to the original HondaJet HA-420, with the over-the-wing-engine-mounts. Performance goals include a maximum cruise speed of 450 knots and a maximum altitude of 47,000 feet. For the HondaJet 2600, the fuselage will be more oval-shaped, increasing headroom and shoulder space at each seat. 

Besides producing the HA-420 HondaJet, the company offers HondaJet maintenance and upgrades at its Greensboro factory maintenance facility.

Leonardo

Founded: 1948
HQ: Rome
Top executive: Alessandro Profumo, CEO
Employees: 50,400
Phone: +39 06 324731

Leonardo is a multinational aerospace and defense organization. It is one of the world's largest global defense contractors and manufactures a wide variety of rotorcraft and fixed-wing aircraft for both civil and military applications. 

Formerly Finmeccanica, Leonardo was founded in 1948 as the mechanical engineering division of the Italian government–run Istituto per la Ricostruzione Industriale (IRI). Agusta represented the rotorcraft branch of the business, which began developing and manufacturing helicopters in 1952 under license from Bell. 

Agusta first flew the A109 in 1976. A lightweight, twin-engined utility helicopter, the A109 has proven to be the company’s best seller and is still manufactured today.

Leonardo’s legacy companies underwent frequent reorganizations, mergers, and divestments from 1960 through the 1980s. In 1992, Agusta became a partner in NHIndustries, a joint venture between Eurocopter and Fokker. This trio went on to develop the NH-90 helicopter. In 2000, Finmeccanica and British manufacturer GKN agreed to merge their rotorcraft production branches (Agusta and GKN-Westland Helicopters), forming AgustaWestland. The venture was originally a 50/50 merger, but Finmeccanica acquired GKN’s share in 2004, becoming the sole owner of the AgustaWestland brand. 

Finmeccanica was restructured into seven business units in 2014 and changed its name to Leonardo on Jan. 1, 2017.

Leonardo produces the AW109S, AW119Kx, AW139, AW169, AW189, and AW101 for civilian applications. It is developing the AW609 civil tiltrotor and the AW09 single-engine helicopter. The AW09 is the former Kopter SH09. Leonardo purchased Kopter in 2020. Leonardo also manufactures a variety of military helicopters including the TH-73A for the U.S. Navy and the MH-139A for the U.S. Air Force (with Boeing). 

Leonardo, which operates from more than 150 global locations, has a large helicopter assembly, support, engineering, and training facility in Philadelphia.

MD Helicopters

Founded: 1955
HQ: Mesa, Arizona
Top executive: Alan Carr, sole director
Employees: 250
Phone: (480) 346-6300

MD Helicopters traces its roots back to 1955 when the Hughes Tool Company's Aircraft Division began studying and developing light helicopters. After more than six decades and a series of mergers and divestments, it was recapitalized as an independent company in 2005. Since then, the light rotorcraft manufacturer has grown its global fleet presence to more than 2,500 operational aircraft.

Early civilian rotorcraft produced by the Aircraft Division included the Hughes 269, 300, 500, and 530F. After successes in the civil and military rotorcraft domains, the AH-64 Apache attack helicopter chiefly among them, Hughes sold its helicopter division to McDonnell Douglas in 1984. In 1997, McDonnell Douglas and Boeing merged their businesses, becoming the Boeing Company. 

Only two years later, in 1999, Boeing sold the commercial rotorcraft lines formerly produced by McDonnell Douglas to MD Helicopter Holdings, an umbrella company of Dutch RDM Holding. While Boeing retained production of the AH-64 and rights to the NOTAR no tail rotor system, MD Helicopter Holdings now owned production of the MD 500E, 530F, 520N, and 600N, as well as the MD Explorer series of twin-engine rotorcraft.

In July 2005, Lynn Tilton, the founder and then-owner of Patriarch Partners, acquired MD Helicopter Holdings. That same year, MD Helicopters was officially recapitalized, with a headquarters in Mesa, Arizona.

In early 2020, Tilton relinquished control of MD Helicopters and other portfolio companies of Patriarch Partners following rulings by a Delaware bankruptcy court. MD filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in March 2022 and entered into an asset purchase agreement with a creditor consortium. Civilian rotorcraft currently in production include single-engine models MD 500E and 530F. The 500 series—derived from the OH-6 military rotorcraft—is sold to both military and civilian customers.

Nextant Aerospace

Founded: 2007
HQ: Cleveland
Top executive: Kenneth C. Ricci, chairman
Employees: 1,600
Phone: (216) 261-9000

Nextant Aerospace specializes in the remanufacturing of business jets and turboprops. 

The company introduced the 400XT, an upgraded Beechjet 400A/XP (Hawker 400), in 2010. The type was certified by the FAA in 2011, and the first Nextant 400XT was delivered in 2013. That year, Nextant also launched the G90XT program, a tip-to-tail remanufacturing of Beechcraft King Air C90 twin-engine turboprops. The remanufactured aircraft first flew in 2015 and received final FAA certification in 2018. Nextant launched the 604XT, a program to upgrade the large-cabin Bombardier Challenger 604, in 2017. The first deliveries were in 2018. 

Nextant also provides service to military customers with cockpit upgrades and associated support equipment for USAF T-1A and T-6 trainers and USN C-26 aircraft.

Piaggio Aerospace

Founded: 1884
HQ: Villanova d'Albenga (Savona), Italy
Top executive: Vincenzo Nicastro, extraordinary commissioner (appointed by the Italian government)
Employees: 950
Phone: (561) 253-0104

Piaggio began producing aircraft engines and airframes in 1915.  

It entered into a partnership with Gates Learjet in 1983 to begin the development of the twin-engine pusher-propeller turboprop P.180 Avanti. Learjet withdrew from the project in 1986 and the aircraft received FAA certification in 1990. As of December 2020, Piaggio had built approximately 250 copies of the model. The aircraft is on its third iteration, which is called the EVO. It has a maximum speed of 402 knots at 41,000 feet. 

The company was declared insolvent in 2018 and currently operates under special administration while it attempts to find a buyer.  

Pilatus Aircraft

Founded: 1939
HQ: Stans, Switzerland
Top executive: Markus Bucher, CEO
Employees: 2,000
Phone: (800) 745-2887 (U.S.), +41 41 619 65 80 

Pilatus Aircraft began manufacturing military training aircraft in the 1940s and launched the legendary PC-6 Porter short-takeoff-and-landing aircraft in 1960. Today, the company is best known for its turboprop military trainers and its PC-12 single-engine business and utility turboprop, which entered service in 1994. Pilatus has since delivered 1,900 of the aircraft whose newest iteration, the PC-12 NGX, features a more powerful Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6E-67XP engine, single-lever power control, and larger cabin windows. 

In 2018, the company began deliveries of its twin-engine PC-24 Super Versatile Jet, an aircraft capable of using unimproved airfields and hauling outsized cargo, thanks to an oversized rear cargo door and flexible cabin layout. By January 2021, Pilatus had delivered 100 of the aircraft. 

Piper Aircraft 

Founded: 1927
HQ: Vero Beach, Florida 
Top executive: John Calcagno, president and CEO 
Employees: 562
Phone: (877) 879-0275

Piper is still perhaps best known for building more than 25,000 of its simple and inexpensive piston single-engine, two-seat Cubs between 1936 and 1947. The iconic yellow fabric, “tail-dragger” landing gear aircraft distill the essence of pure “stick and rudder” flying in its most basic form. 

Today, the company builds a full line of piston single and twin-engine aircraft, sold in the main to flight schools. Those models include piston singles Pilot 100i, Archer, and pressurized M350 and piston twins Seminole and Seneca. Piper also builds two models of turboprop singles based on the M350 fuselage, the M500 and M600/SLS. The six-seat M600/SLS cruises at 274 knots and is equipped with advanced avionics including the Garmin Autoland system, called HALO, which can automatically land the aircraft in the event of pilot incapacitation.  

The company is currently owned by the Brunei Ministry of Finance. Hassanal Bolkiah, the Sultan of Brunei, is an accomplished pilot who flies his own Boeing 747. 

Sikorsky
Sikorsky

Sikorsky

Founded: 1925
HQ: Stratford, Connecticut
Top executive: Paul Lemmo, president
Employees: 15,000
Phone: (203) 386-4000

Lockheed Martin acquired Sikorsky for $9 billion in 2015, largely for its military helicopter programs, including the ubiquitous UH-60 series of Black Hawk models, and the promise of lucrative future military programs including the CH-53K heavy-lift helicopter and the U.S. Army’s Future Long-Range Attack and Assault (FLRAA) and Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA). 

Production of existing civil models, the S-76D medium twin and the S-92A heavy twin, has languished due to a combination of corporate resourcing priorities, U.S. regulatory changes, and market forces. Sikorsky made the strategic decision not to bring the S-76D into compliance with new FAA crashworthy fuel tank standards, essentially ending its ability to sell that aircraft in the U.S. market and effectively ending its production. Meanwhile, long-promised upgrades for the S-92A have been slow in coming, thanks to the recent weakness of the offshore energy market, which reduced customer demand. Sikorsky delivered just four new S-92As in 2021 and announced the closure of its Coatesville, Pennsylvania plant, which had been the hub of its civil helicopter production. The company thinks S-92A production could eventually rebound and that product improvements for the helicopter, now slated for 2026, are incorporated.

Textron Aviation 

Founded: 2014
HQ: Wichita, Kansas
Top executive: Ron Draper, CEO
Employees: 9,500
Phone: (316) 517-6000

Textron Aviation was created in 2014 when parent company Textron, the owner of Cessna Aircraft, acquired the Beechcraft and Hawker brands. As a result of the acquisition, the manufacture of Beechcraft- and Hawker-branded business jet aircraft was permanently discontinued. 

When Cessna was established as the Cessna-Roos Company in 1927, co-founder Clyde Cessna had already launched several failed aircraft manufacturing ventures (in partnership with fellow aviation pioneers Walter Beech and Lloyd Stearman, among others). The business began to achieve success only after nephews Dwane and Dwight Wallace bought out Clyde in 1935.

Cessna’s first business jet, the Citation I (Cessna 500), which the airframer created to compete with the Learjet, first flew more than 50 years ago, in 1969. A decade later, Citations were the bestselling business jets in the world. In the 1980s, under CEO Russell Meyer, Cessna pioneered aircraft leasing and fleet sales.

In 1985 General Dynamics bought Cessna, which it then sold to Textron in 1992. (General Dynamics bought Gulfstream Aerospace in 1999.) Cessna became a Textron Aviation brand in 2014. (Beechcraft also became a Textron Aviation brand that year, and Bell, formerly Bell Helicopter, is now part of Textron, as well.

Cessna sells seven models, ranging from the small-cabin Citation M2 to the super-midsize Citation Longitude. The twin-engine utility SkyCourier turboprop received FAA certification in March, with the first delivery to launch customer FedEx taking place shortly thereafter. The single-engine Denali turboprop has been moved to the Beechcraft brand. Since they entered service in 1973, more than 7,000 Citations have been produced. The Citation X/X+, which ended production in 2018, held the distinction of being the world’s fastest civilian production aircraft.

Beechcraft manufactures the G36 Bonanza single-engine piston aircraft, the piston twin-engine G58 Baron, and twin-engine King Air model 260 and 360 turboprops. It also assembled the T-6 Texan II single turboprop trainer for the U.S. military. Its new Denali single-engine turboprop made its first flight in 2021. Certification is expected in 2023.

In March 2022, Textron bought European electric aircraft maker Pipistrel for a newly created business unit called Textron eAviation, which will focus on the development of electric and hybrid-powered aircraft.

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