U.S. private jet buyers seek distressed planes in early sign of turbulence

By Allison Lampert (Reuters) - Some U.S. business jet buyers are looking for new aircraft whose current owners are having trouble making payments ahead of delivery, in

a possible sign of early cracks in what has been a soaring market up to now. From preowned planes selling more gradually to flattening business jet traffic, demand is

beginning to moderate, aviation lawyers, brokers and analysts said. While defaults remain rare, those signs of uneven demand are drawing attention. One business jet

executive said he has seen a few distressed planes and customers who are late on payments due to financial hardships, some of whom are from parts of Eastern Europe or Latin

America where economic growth is expected to slow. "We're watching to see if it will level off as a soft landing versus something else," said the executive, who asked not

to be identified. Investors will be watching for clues when Gulfstream-maker General Dynamics Corp and Cessna business jet maker Textron Inc report earnings on Wednesday.

Private jet makers have assured investors their billion-dollar backlogs and ongoing demand would cushion any blow from a possible recession. Planemakers rarely disclose

cases of distressed planes, but argue they can easily resell unwanted models. "If, for any reason, the final sale of an aircraft does not occur, the sales team works to

match the aircraft with a similar customer's mission, location and timeline," said Lannie O'Bannion, a senior vice president at Textron's aviation unit. HUNT FOR PLANES