GAMA report shows Q1 deliveries down

Wheels UP

Now that spring has arrived, the general aviation industry was hoping for encouragement from the first quarter aircraft shipment statistics. However, according to GAMA’s President and CEO Pete Bunce, “shipments of general aviation were soft across the board with only a handful of bright spots.”

The latest numbers published by GAMA cover the period January to March of this year and show the industry delivered 585 aircraft and helicopters, billing a total of $4.52 billion. This compares with 639 deliveries for the same period last year (down 8.5 percent) representing a 13 percent fall in revenues. Breaking down these figures, there were 422 fixed-wing aircraft and 163 helicopters handed over during the period and each class of aircraft fell by a few units, with 191 piston aircraft (193 last year), 109 turboprops (117) and 122 business jets (128) recorded during the quarter.

Of course, the GAMA numbers cover a wide range of aircraft from LSAs (Light Sport Aircraft) to Boeing and Airbus airliner business jets. In the piston sector, Cirrus shipped the most aircraft with 57 SR20s and SR22s, a 32 percent improvement on last year, but, surprisingly, it was the Italian manufacturer, Tecnam, coming next with 46 deliveries including seven of the smart new four-seat P2010s. Piper continued to feed the training market with the PA-28 (Warrior and Archer), the Arrow and the Seminole. Cessna also looks to training schools for 172 Skyhawk orders, and these fell to just nine units compared with 31 a year ago. But the more expensive Skylane, Turbo Stationair and TTx helped to prop up revenues. Still in business are American Champion, Maule, Cub Crafters and Waco Aircraft, who all produced a handful of aircraft this quarter, and, while Mooney shipped only two Acclaims, the company’s new management and development of the M10 trainer and substantially redesigned M20V bode well for their future.

Business aviation down

In business aviation, Boeing and Airbus made no deliveries during the three months, but Textron’s Cessna division slightly exceeded last year’s performance with 34 jets handed over including seven Model 680 Citation Latitudes and a pair of Citation X+. The impact of the higher value of the Latitude helped Cessna’s revenues to climb 17 percent for the period. The company is anticipating the arrival of the high-value Citation Longitude.

Unfortunately, Bombardier’s woes continued with deliveries falling from 45 last year to 31 this time, which meant a 23 percent fall in revenues to $1.276 billion. This was partly caused by a fall in Global sales but mainly due to just one Learjet being delivered compared with nine last year.

By contrast, Embraer delivered 23 aircraft — up from 12 last year, including five of the new Legacy 500s and six Legacy 650s. Eleven of the popular Phenom 300 were handed over last quarter, and Embraer has recently celebrated its 1,000th business jet delivery with a Legacy 500 handed over to Flexjet. According to Embraer, this milestone was achieved in just over a decade with deliveries to more than 60 countries.

At this stage, we cannot comment on Dassault who only disclose their results each half year but Gulfstream had an unusually low output this quarter with only 27 deliveries – compared with around 40 each month last year. The midsize G150 and G280 held up well but the shortfall was in the large cabin models, and it seems this may be a bump due to customers awaiting the arrival in service of the new G500 and G600. At the smaller end of the market, Honda is getting into its stride with three examples of the HA420, and One Aviation handed over three of its Eclipse 550 VLJs.

The turboprop market has several segments, which include business twins and single-engine models, but there are also the “agricultural” aircraft. This is actually a misnomer because Thrush and Air Tractor now have a mixed market including firefighting models and military versions for counter-insurgency operations. This quarter, Thrush delivered ten units including four of the new H80 Thrush 510G which is powered by the GE H80 turbine engine specially developed for this aircraft. Its direct competitor, Air Tractor, completed 28 deliveries, which is in line with most of last year’s quarterly totals.

Turboprops hold steady

Of the business turboprops, Textron’s Beechcraft King Airs are the dominant force and 26 were delivered (up from 25 last year), including 15 King Air 350i/ERs, six King Air 250s and five of the small C90GTx. A significant customer is Wheels Up, which already has around 40 King Air 350s in service. Their only competitor in this sector is Piaggio Aerospace who delivered one Avanti Evo this quarter.

In the utility single-engined turboprop segment, the Cessna Caravan 275 and Grand Caravan EX are dominant with a dozen delivered, but the Quest Kodiak, five of which were sold, is a strong competitor. Straddling the utility and business market is the Pilatus PC-12, which continues its relentless progress with 16 deliveries (in line with last year’s average). Daher has seen good customer reaction to its TBM900 with 145 sold and 110 delivered to date although only five were actually handed over in the first quarter. Finally, Piper delivered only three of its M500s (the former Malibu Meridian) but is gearing up for getting the new M600 into service later this year.

Taking a quick look at the helicopter results, most manufacturers are still suffering from the effects of the oil crisis with Airbus Helicopters delivering 42 aircraft (49 last year), Finmeccanica with 14 (22 last year) and Bell handing over 30 (down from 35). Sikorsky had a fairly good quarter with deliveries of three S-76s and two S-92s. In the personal helicopter market, French manufacturer, Guimbal moved nine of its Cabris (consistent with 2015), but Robinson saw a drop in sales of the turbine R66 from 29 down to 11, which meant it completed just 61 deliveries compared with 80-90 each quarter last year. As with the rest of the industry, the helicopter folks will be hoping things will improve as 2016 moves forward.

General Aviation Aircraft Shipment Report Q1 2016