General aviation aircraft shipments for the first quarter of 2021 show an overall increase versus figures from the same period in 2020, but no return yet to 2019 numbers. The news, which came as part of the regular quarterly report from the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA), was not surprising—and still reason for hope, according to the association. However, results were mixed between categories, with increasing numbers for propeller-driven airplanes and turbine rotorcraft, but essentially level deliveries for jets and piston-powered helicopters.
Cirrus Aircraft marked the most piston deliveries, with 70 SR20 and SR22/22T units delivered, as well as overall, adding 7 SF50 jet deliveries for 77 total—though Textron Aviation was close in trail with 75 total units. Gulfstream Aerospace topped out the turbine airplane segment with 28 total units out of the hangars in Q1—3 G280 models, and 25 in the G500/550/600/650/650ER series.
“The first quarter of 2021 shows progress for the industry,” said GAMA president and CEO Pete Bunce in a press release on May 20. “It is encouraging to see manufacturers begin to bounce back from the impacts of the pandemic. Although, we are not yet in the clear. The industry continues to face headwinds, especially with ongoing supply chain issues and pandemic related restrictions and constraints to global travel. It is important that we continue working with governments to assist in strengthening our supply chain, safely easing travel related restrictions and protecting our highly skilled workforce. Our outlook toward the future is exciting, particularly in light of our industry’s commitment to, and focus upon, environmental sustainability which continues to spur development of new aircraft, innovative technologies, and the production, distribution and uptake of sustainable aviation fuel.”
The turboprop category showed the biggest jump, with 18.3 percent more airframes out the door in the first quarter—a total of 84 shipments versus 71 in the same period during 2020. Piston airplanes were up 7.3 percent, with 235 units delivered in the first three months of 2021—a total rise of 16 units. The jet segment tallied one less delivery in 2021 when compared to 2020, as did piston helicopters. Turbine-powered rotorcraft were up 8.2 percent overall.
Total airplane billings clocked in at $3.93 billion, with total rotorcraft coming in at $544 million, increases of 18.1 percent and 26.2 percent, respectively. One change to note: the term “propeller driven” is now used in GAMA’s reporting to include both piston- and electric/hybrid-powered aircraft in the single-engine category, to reflect the 14 Pipistrel Virus SW 128 Velis Electros delivered in the period.