GAMA Report Indicates Positive Trend for General Aviation

Shipments up over all segments compared with last year.

Pilatus PC-24
Business jet manufacturers are delivering an increasing number of airplanes, a large percentage of which are newly introduced models such as this Pilatus PC-24.Pilatus

The third quarterly general aviation shipments and billings report for 2018 was released this week by the General Aviation Manufacturers Association and, this time, it was mostly good news. “This is one of those few times since the great recession that we have seen all segments up in shipment numbers,” said GAMA’s president and CEO, Pete Bunce.

The greatest increase in shipments was seen in the piston rotorcraft segment, where nearly 16 percent more helicopters were delivered over the first 9 months of last year. Turbine rotorcraft also saw an increase, though it was closer to eight percent. However, despite the increased number of deliveries, the total rotorcraft billings over the three quarters was down approximately 2.2 percent from $2.7 billion to $2.6 billion.

Similarly, shipment numbers were up in all airplane segments, while billings were down. Piston airplane deliveries increased by more than eight percent, from 724 in 2017 to 784 this year. Turboprops saw an increase of nearly six percent, from 374 to 395, and business jet deliveries increased about three percentage points, from 433 to 446 airplanes. However, despite the solid delivery numbers, billings dropped by more than three percent, from $13.1 billion in 2017 to $12.7 billion this year.

While the report was not all positive, Bunce predicts a bright future for GA. “While there remain some soft spots in a few segments, including business jet deliveries and impacts being felt from global trade disputes, I’m optimistic about our industry’s performance in 2019 given continuing healthy demand for tax expensing, stabilization of the used market and the number of new products being introduced to the market.”

Bunce's prediction of an improvement in the bizjet market based on newly introduced airplanes could be right. The recently certified Cirrus SF50 VisionJet and Pilatus PC-24 Super Versatile Jet represented 50 deliveries, more than 16 percent of the total deliveries over the first three quarters.