Aviation & Defense

Aircraft makers are set to fly even higher, with earnings likely to surpass the records set in '96. The only sore spot: Belt-tightening at the Pentagon

The aviation business is soaring as sales of commercial aircraft continue to climb. Earnings in 1996 rose 65%, to a record $7.6 billion, according to preliminary data from the Aerospace Industries Assn. (AIA). Profit margins in 1996 will be the highest in three decades. And industry employment may finally bottom out at about 700,000, as years of downsizing come to a close.

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