Airplane Manufacturers Soar in Early 2008

Turbine airplanes dominated the impressive sales of the first three quarters, but nothing could save the fourth quarter

The General Aviation Manufacturers Association reported record dollar volume of new airplane deliveries from airplane manufacturers for the first three quarters of 2008 with a total value of $18.2 billion in deliveries, up from $15.1 billion in the same period of 2007. A total of 2,977 airplanes were delivered compared to 2,918 in 2007, indicating that turbine airplanes dominated as the dollar volume grew much faster than unit count.

However, GAMA acknowledged that the final quarter of the year -- traditionally the most important for the industry -- looked difficult as the world economy had slowed dramatically. Business jet makers still had large backlogs of orders, but most companies were starting to plan for production cuts by the end of the year.

The piston airplane segment had already slowed into the third quarter with deliveries down 11.4 percent to 1,646 airplanes compared to 2007. Turboprops were up 13.7 percent at 341 airplanes, and business jet deliveries soared 30.1 percent to 990 units for the first three quarters.

It appeared that the global credit crisis and overall slowing of the world economy proved to be more damaging to the general aviation business than the high fuel prices earlier in 2008. GAMA President Pete Bunce called on governments of the United States and Europe to create incentives to stimulate the aviation industry, and most importantly, not to impose new taxes and restrictions that could further hamper the growth of airplane manufacturers.