While the data just released from the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) showed trends that weren’t unexpected, the degree of downturn for the industry points to a more significant slump than most people prepared for. The total number of aircraft shipped to date in 2020 declined 21.5 percent from the same period last year. Billings were also down just over 20 percent. The helicopter side of the industry received an even tougher blow, with deliveries down nearly 40 percent with billings declining 35.5 percent. On the airplane side of the business, turboprops took the biggest hit with deliveries down slightly more than 34 percent. Piston helicopters saw the greatest decline amongst the rotorcraft fleet, down 45.2 percent.
GAMA’s president and CEO Pete Bunce said in a news release, “It should come as no surprise to anyone that the COVID-19 pandemic severely impacted the general aviation industry and its global operations in the second quarter. During those months, while the global aerospace supply chain was significantly degraded and national, state and local pandemic restrictions changed routinely on both sides of the Atlantic, many companies supplemented their activities to support the health care response with the manufacture and distribution of personal protective equipment. With facilities conducting operations in a ‘new normal’ work environment, what has been very encouraging is that the supply chain has begun to stabilize and robust screening procedures and innovative work station COVID-19 mitigation protocols have resulted in very few virus transmission incidents.”
Bunce did offer some good news despite the grim delivery numbers. “While continued mandated and voluntary restrictions on international business travel are producing stiff headwinds,” Bunce continued, “flight activity for business aviation has appeared to return to around 85 percent of pre-pandemic levels in US domestic airspace, while piston, turboprop and rotorcraft flight activity has actually increased. Many travelers have also opted to explore the utility of general and business aviation for the first time, which we hope will translate into future customers for the incredible and versatile products and services our industry has to offer.” GAMA’s complete 2020 second quarter report can be found at gama.aero.