Beechcraft, Cirrus, Piper Aircraft Announce Big Sales Numbers

The past several years have seen some pretty frosty sales reports from light airplane manufacturers. But in advance of yesterday's General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) luncheon, Beechcraft, Cirrus and Piper reported that sales are heating up.

On the cusp of its ownership transition to Textron, Beech looked back fondly on its first year as an independent company. CEO Bill Boisture said, "It's safe to call our first year as a standalone company a success." He referred to the emergence from bankruptcy early last year, followed by deliveries of 205 general aviation aircraft, including 35 Barons and 35 Bonanzas. But the big story was the avalanche of King Air deliveries — 135 in all, up from a mere 46 in 2012. On the military side, Beech delivered 34 T-6 Texan II trainers to services around the world. Boisture also cited high sales bookings and substantive revenue from maintenance of Hawker and Beech aircraft — on both the civilian and military sides of the ledger.

From Cirrus comes news of 276 deliveries in 2013, a 10 percent increase over 2012. Last year's numbers are the best since 2008, the year of the great global fiscal meltdown. Cirrus cites a 37 percent annual market share in its category and lauds its SR22/22T sales performance as the best in the 4/5-seat market for 11 years in a row. Todd Simmons, executive vice president of sales, marketing and customer support, said, "Our trajectory turned upward in 2013."

Piper's press release cited deliveries of 188 aircraft last year, 154 piston models. That's an overall increase of 30 compared with 2012. Revenues were close to $169 million. Piper CEO Simon Caldecott attributes much of the increase to resupplying the training market with new aircraft.

With three legacy GA airframers showing strong sales and financial numbers, this could indicate that we're starting the slow climb back from the brink of fiscal disaster. Other economic indicators support that theory, such as the steady reduction in the available inventory of pre-owned business jets, and a corresponding increase in prices.

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Mark Phelps is a senior editor at AVweb. He is an instrument rated private pilot and former owner of a Grumman American AA1B and a V-tail Bonanza.

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