The General Aviation Manufacturers Association released its first quarterly shipment report for 2018 last week, which indicates an overall upward trend in the industry. “Training needs are driving the demands in the rotorcraft segment, while a stabilizing used market, overall global economic growth and aviation innovation are driving the other segment increases,” GAMA’s president and CEO Pete Bunce said. Bunce expects the positive trend to continue, citing the introduction of new products as the catalyst for continued growth.
Nearly all segments of GA manufacturing saw improvements in deliveries. But the piston rotorcraft market was the strongest by far with an increase of nearly 40 percent from 58 piston helicopters delivered in the first quarter of 2017 to 81 this year. Turbine rotorcraft also saw increases in deliveries, though only by 7 percent. In total, the helicopter market pulled in $0.67 billion, an increase of 18.3 percent over last year’s billings.
Total airplane billings increased from $3.71 billion to $3.83 billion, a welcome increase of 3.3 percent after an overall decline in 2017 of 4.2 percent over the 2016. The biggest turnaround was seen in the turboprop market where shipments increased by 12.7 percent in the first quarter over last year’s numbers. This is an encouraging trend after the segment saw a decline in shipments from 2016 to 2017. Textron Aviation’s Beechcraft King Air line was the big winner, delivering 17 twin turboprops, up from 12 during the same time in 2017.
The bizjet market continued its slow growth, increasing by 1.5 percent over the past year with 132 airplanes delivered while piston airplane deliveries were down by 1.5 percent.