Surging sales of commercial jetliners have driven the U.S. aerospace industry's sales, profits, and trade balance to all-time highs, reports the Aerospace Industries Assn. (AIA) At the association's yearend review and forecast luncheon Dec. 9, President John W. Douglass said that the industry posted a record $7.4 billion in profits on $140.5 billion in sales during 1998. Most of the gains came from sales of jetliners, which alone rose $5.6 billion to an estimated $33 billion. The industry's trade surplus will reach $37 billion, a 15% rise over 1997's record level. "This year's trade surplus maintains the aerospace industry's lead in holding the highest trade balance of all industries in the nation," Douglass declared. The booming jetliner business more than offsets falling revenue from military aircraft, engines, and parts -- sales of which declined from $32.8 billion to $30.6 billion as a result of Defense Dept. budget cuts, Douglass said. AIA forecasts continued growing sales in 1999, Douglass said. But he noted that recent announcements of employment cutbacks have caused industry analysts to take "a more guarded view of what will happen in the year 2000 and beyond."