The prolonged recovery of the used business jet market has faltered in recent months, taking a “frustrating” step backward, according to market researcher Amstat. Business aviation analysts have closely watched the used market over the past couple of years, as high inventories have been considered a major stumbling block to the overall health of the industry.

Amstat stresses that those inventories have come down – “Over the long haul, conditions are getting better more often than they’re getting worse,” says Amstat Executive VP Tom Benson. But in recent months, business jet market conditions have contracted.

In the third quarter, the inventory of business jets for sale increased to 14% of the fleet, up slightly from 13.9% in the second quarter. This increase, Amstat says, “bucks the trend of steadily decreasing quarterly jet inventories that has lasted for the last two years.”

At the same time, sales transactions slowed from 2.5% of the fleet in the second quarter to 2.3% in the third quarter. “This decrease puts a damper on the mostly positive trend we had seen over the previous six quarters,” Amstat says in its most recent Market Update report, adding that the sales transactions are “well shy” of the 20-year average of 3.2%.

Amstat says the business jet market is unquestionably in a better place than two or three years ago, but “the recent leveling off of improvement in used for-sale inventory, combined with the slight step backward in traction activity this past quarter, does not constitute the continuous improvement that we would prefer to see.”

Turboprop inventories fared better in the third quarter, decreasing to 10.7% – below the 20-year average of 11.2%. Turboprop resale transaction activity inched upward to 2.5% of the fleet, compared with the second quarter’s 2.3%.