AEA: Aircraft And Avionics Numbers On The Rise

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After some six years in the doldrums, the general aviation industry—aircraft manufacturing, avionics sales and hiring—are showing clear signs of modest expansion and record attendance at the Aircraft Electronics Association convention this week seems to bear out the claims.

“The buzz is back in the industry now and I haven’t seen this kind of excitement since 2007,” said Pete Bunce, president of the General Aviation Manufacturers Association, in a combined address to the convention with AEA President Paula Derks. Bunce said GAMA commissioned PricewaterhouseCoopers to analyze GA’s economic trends, using the same methodology used when it did the study previously in 2004. The accountants found that 1.1 millions jobs can be attributed to the GA economy, whose total size is about $219 billion dollars, up $25 billion from 11 years ago. Bunce said the data is important to convince Congress to work in the industry’s behalf. “We are facing a reauthorization year and we have to tell our story,” Bunce said. “This is nothing to shy away from. We are huge contributors,” he added.

The avionics market has also show modest growth, according to AEA’s Derks. Two years ago, AEA did its own economic study, relying on reports from 23 avionics manufacturers. The total size of the industry during 2014 was $2.5 billion, up about 4 percent over the previous year.

Derks said the survey showed that both flight activity and hiring trends are also in the black. Business aviation had its best flight activity since 2008 with an overall increase of 4 percent and a 23 percent increase in fractional aircraft activity. The aviation job-tracking firm JSFirm said that 92 percent of companies in the industry plan to hire workers during the coming year.

Both Bunce and Derks said the biggest challenge for 2015 may be to keep the FAA on track to deliver on its promises for regulatory reform and streamlining of certification oversight. “They have to find a better way of doing things. They have to embrace reform to keep commerce moving,” Bunce said.

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