GA Celebrates Its Comeback...

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The General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) last week held its annual production review and market outlook, and to no one's great surprise, business aircraft led the industry's charge to growth. According to GAMA, deliveries of new general aviation aircraft climbed 10 percent in 2004, with billings increasing 19 percent. Turboprops led the growth, with an 18-percent (272 vs. 321 airframes) increase over 2003 while business jets followed closely with a 14.1-percent (518 vs. 591) jump in sales. Counting piston-powered, GAMA members sold $11.9 billion of new aircraft in 2004. James E. Schuster, chairman of GAMA’s board, said, “Bonus depreciation, coupled with the continuing growth of the U.S. economy, helped make 2004 a turning point for our industry. The fact that total shipments increased indicates that this turn-around is broadly based. GAMA member companies believe this bodes well for the future of general aviation.” All involved welcomed the 2004 news, since it wasn't all that long ago -- 2001, to be exact -- that GA was taking it in the shorts, both economically and operationally. Despite security concerns that lingered into 2002, the industry has rebounded quite nicely, thank you, perhaps because of those very same security concerns. As fractional operations continue to expand -- along with charter flights and traditional "corporate" aviation flying -- and the quality of airline service and attendant security hassles continue to dominate the news, more and more people and business are looking to general aviation to complete their travels. And that's just fine with the GA industry. The complete GAMA briefing on the industry's recovery and outlook for the future is available on the association's Web site.