Feb 19 (Reuters) - Gulfstream became the world's No.2 maker of business jets by deliveries in 2013 as surging sales of its large executive jets outpaced Cessna's smaller lineup, an industry group said on Wednesday.
Growing demand in the Middle East has driven the large jet boom, helping to offset a shrinking European market, said Steve Tyler, head of the General Aviation Manufacturers Association in a webcast.
Strong sales of the most expensive business jets raised total billings for the industry by 23.1 percent last year to the highest since 2008, even as the number of new planes grew just 0.9 percent from an eight-year low.
Bombardier took first place in the $21 billion business jet market with a little-changed 26.5 percent share of deliveries, thanks to larger Challenger and Global models.
Gulfstream, a division of General Dynamics Corp, expanded its market share to 21.2 percent last year from 14 percent in 2012. Textron Inc's Cessna saw its share drop to 20.5 percent from a market-leading 26.9 percent.
Booming sales at the top of the business jet spectrum has followed in part from the rollout of big new aircraft in recent years, said Tyler, and the pendulum could swing back soon.
"As new light and mid-size products start to deliver, we could see that segment recover starting in 2014," he said.
Embraer SA, for instance, plans to begin delivering its new mid-size Legacy 500 this year.
Already the Brazilian planemaker has solidified its place as the world's No.4 business jet maker, lifting its market share to 17.6 percent last year from 14.7 percent in 2012. Its light Phenom 300 was also the most shipped single model of business jet last year, according to an Embraer spokesman.
Embraer and others have also grown at the expense of Beechcraft Corporation, which emerged from bankruptcy last year with a 0.9 percent market share for its Hawker business jets, down from 12.2 percent in 2008.
France's Dassault Avisation SA also ramped up deliveries of its large Falcon 7X, shipping 11.4 percent of new aircraft in 2013, up from 9.8 percent the year before.
- business jets