General Electric Company (NYSE:GE) said Friday its aviation business helped lift the giant conglomerate's sales and profit above Wall Street's expectations for the first quarter.

The Fairfield, Conn.-based company reported net income of $3.53 billion, or 34 cents per share, compared with $3.03 billion, or 29 cents per share, in the first quarter of last year. Sales edged up slightly to $35 billion. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters had expected, on average, earnings per share of 35 cents and revenue of $34.51 billion.

Besides a 47 percent increase in aviation sales, GE booked a 24 percent increase in revenue from energy customers as demand from emerging markets offset declining demand in Europe.

“Our equipment orders were strong in the quarter, growing 10 percent, with oil and gas orders up 24 percent and aviation up 47 percent,” CEO Jeff Immelt said. “In growth markets, equipment and service orders grew 17 percent. We ended the quarter with our biggest backlog in history.”