GA Forecast: Slow But Steady Growth

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Production of general aviation aircraft is expected to grow slightly through next year, with stronger growth starting in 2013, according to a report by Forecast International released this week. The research firm, based in Newton, Conn., excluded business jets and light sport aircraft from its study, which focuses on the projected GA market from 2011 to 2020. The report forecasts that 18,400 piston aircraft will be built by 2020, worth $8 billion, plus 6,000 turboprops, worth $20.5 billion. "There have been signs of strengthening demand in the piston market, but the increase has been from a very low base," said analyst Douglas Royce. "Getting production back to pre-recession levels will take years, if not the entire decade."

Economic growth has been slow in the primary GA markets of the U.S. and Europe since the end of the global recession, and demand from countries with higher economic growth, such as China, India, and Brazil, will not grow quickly enough to replace those lost orders, the analysts found. When that demand does kick in, U.S. manufacturers such as Cessna, Piper and Cirrus will be well-positioned, Royce told the Wichita Eagle. "Everyone will benefit, but that's going to require the regulatory structure and infrastructure [abroad] to be built," Royce said.