So far, 2017 looks like a good year for piston airplane sales. The General Aviation Manufacturers Association released its shipment report for the first two quarters of the year, indicating an overall increase in piston shipments of 5.6 percent over the same period last year.
It was particularly good news for piston airplane producers in the United States, which increased their deliveries by 6.7 percent over last year from 701 to 734 airplanes this year. Cessna was by far the biggest winner, increasing its piston product delivery numbers from 65 to 98 airplanes — better than a 50 percent increase.
The turboprop market, which has seen a steady increase in the past couple of years, declined 0.9 percent, with King Air sales particularly hard hit. King Air shipments plunged from 49 to 31. After a few tough years, the bizjet market saw a slight uptick of 1 percent. Most of that was due to an increase in deliveries from Honda Aircraft, which shipped 24 HondaJets versus 10 in 2016. In total, the number of airplanes delivered in the first half of this year as compared with last year added up to 995 airplanes, an increase of 2.7 percent, according to the GAMA report.
While the delivery numbers were up, the total billings were down by 3.4 percent from $9.4 billion in the first half of 2016 to $9.0 billion this year. This should come as no surprise as the increases in deliveries were largely seen in the lower-cost piston products. It is also important to note that the report shows only a snippet of time and there are many factors that can affect shipments short-term. The deliveries for both Skyhawks and Skylanes, for example, were unusually low in the first half of 2016 as Cessna was ramping up Skylane production after the hiatus from the unsuccessful switch to a diesel engine.