WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Worldwide shipments of business jets and other private aircraft fell again last year, but billings rose modestly in a sign of improvement in a tough economy.
"Shipments declined in all three industry segments from the previous year, but the declines reached the single digits which indicate general aviation is reaching the trough in this cycle," said Caroline Daniels, chairman of the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA).
"A majority of the market fundamentals are moving in the right direction," Daniels said.
She cited record corporate profits and stronger business for the industry in emerging markets. However, financing remains difficult.
"An ease in credit markets could help boost our industry into positive growth once again," Daniels said.
The aircraft market is an indicator of overall economic health, particularly among global corporations and other businesses that use private jets.
Worldwide shipments of general aviation planes dropped 3.5 percent to 1,865 last year, GAMA said in its annual report.
The business jet sector declined by 6.3 percent with 681 planes shipped, but GAMA said the long-range market was healthy and pushed up overall industry billings by 0.4 percent to $19.1 billion.
Piston shipments were off 1.5 percent and the turboprop sector was down 2.4 percent.
Key manufacturers include Canada's Bombardier, Cessna, Brazil's Embraer, Gulfstream, and Hawker Beechcraft.
(Reporting By John Crawley; Editing by Derek Caney)