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   for a while. We’ll also touch on paint and interior upgrade options, and even explore upgrade paths when figuring out the best time to “trade up” and move into your next aircraft.
Introduced in 1996, the first Citation Excel delivered in 1998, and Textron continues deliveries of this popular jet as of 2019. The most re- cent variant, the XLS+, makes the fleet size a whopping 949 aircraft in operation today. Of those aircraft, 365 are Excel, 328 are XLS, and 256 are XLS+. (If you want to learn more about the history and differences be- tween each model, I invite you to watch our 560XL Series Review Video review at under the “Videos” section).
Another interesting fact about the XL fleet is that a staggering 28 per- cent of all XLS aircraft in operation today are operated under fractional ownership programs like NetJets and Wheels Up. They clearly see the val- ue, efficiency and popularity of this aircraft model.
A Current Overview of the XL Markets
Last year proved to be another strong year for the XL markets, al- though we did see some dichotomy between the three models in this se- ries. The Excel stayed fairly strong in the first part of the year and then experienced some market softening as the year went on. The XLS mar- ket remained strong throughout the year, only experiencing a short lull through the summer months, then returning as one of the strongest markets in business aviation going into Q4. The XLS+ market proved to be the most unpredictable of the three markets, however, with early serial numbers selling more quickly than later serial numbers. Overall, all three markets remained fairly strong in the fourth quarter.
Current Snapshot
A “healthy market,” as defined by many industry analysts, is a market with roughly 10 percent of the fleet available for sale. Any higher, and this indicates a buyer’s market. Any
lower, and it’s considered a seller’s market, generally speaking. So, as of this writing at the end of October 2019, here are the market statistics:
• Citation Excel: 17 For Sale = 5.0%
• Citation XLS: 13 For Sale = 3.3%
• Citation XLS+: 12 For Sale = 5.5%
As you can see, we are most decid- edly in a seller’s market with inven- tory numbers for all three models in the 3 to 6 percent range. Life is good, right? In theory, yes. However, there is an interesting trend when it comes to breaking down the transactions over the past year and discovering what buyers are looking for.
In general, there seems to be a higher demand for late-model Excels (2002 or newer), as well as any XLS priced at or below $4.5 million. There are also a number of variables when looking at this fleet, and buyers as- sign a certain value to these variables that are not necessarily linear. It’s these devil-is-in-the-details variables that drive overall aircraft values.
For instance, the “Vref Aircraft Valuation Digest” says to deduct the engine buy-in cost if the aircraft is not on an engine program. “Bluebook” values the airplane differently. They have you add the buy-in amount to the overall aircraft value if the air- plane is already on an engine pro- gram. Just figure out the buy-in cost then, right? Wrong. We have found that of the 12 (yes – twelve!) different engine program options and levels of coverage, simply figuring out the buy-in differential does NOT directly calculate aircraft value. Partly, this could be because some buyers do not understand the differences be- tween these programs and coverages. Other savvy buyers, however, weigh the buy-in differently depending upon how far from the future event they are.
For example, say the airplane is on Pratt & Whitney’s ESP Silver engine program, and to bring the airplane up to ESP Gold coverage, the buy-in cost is $500,000. If the airplane is just
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