As Expected: GAMA Says Shipments Down In First Half


Deliveries of new aircraft were down dramatically in the first half of 2020, according to the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA), which released its first-half report today. All segments, compared to this time last year, were down in double digits through the end of June but certain categories were particularly hard hit. Helicopters overall were down almost 40 percent, while turboprops and business jet deliveries fell by 34 percent and 27 percent, respectively. Piston aircraft were the lone bright spot, if you can call a reduction in deliveries by 13 percent good news. The total value of deliveries in the second quarter was $5.3 billion, which makes to total billed to date in 2020 down 20 percent from last year. Remember that 2019 was an up year for the industry.

“It should come as no surprise to anyone that the COVID-19 pandemic severely impacted the general aviation industry and its global operations in the second quarter,” said GAMA President and CEO Pete Bunce. “During those months, while the global aerospace supply chain was significantly degraded and national, state and local pandemic restrictions changed routinely on both sides of the Atlantic, many companies supplemented their activities to support the health care response with the manufacture and distribution of personal protective equipment. With facilities conducting operations in a ‘new normal’ work environment, what has been very encouraging is that the supply chain has begun to stabilize and robust screening procedures and innovative work station COVID-19 mitigation protocols have resulted in very few virus transmission incidents.”

Aircraft manufacturers generally saw gradual increases in volume during the second quarter of 2020 despite the onset of Coronavirus-related slowdowns in manufacturing and supply chain. Overall, piston aircraft saw an increase in deliveries in the second quarter compared to the first: 278 vs. 219 units. Cirrus deliveries slowed a bit in the second quarter, from 85 to 74 units, but Textron Aviation’s overall portfolio held largely steady, increasing from 93 units in the first quarter to add 98 in the second, led by 51 Skyhawks delivered from April to June. Piper, meanwhile, picked up the pace in Q2, putting 60 aircraft out the door in Q2, compared to 25 in Q1; most of those were Archer IIIs—45 were delivered in the second quarter.

“While continued mandated and voluntary restrictions on international business travel are producing stiff headwinds, flight activity for business aviation has appeared to return to around 85 percent of pre-pandemic levels in U.S. domestic airspace while piston, turboprop and rotorcraft flight activity has actually increased,” GAMA’s Bunce says. “Many travelers have also opted to explore the utility of general and business aviation for the first time, which we hope will translate into future customers for the incredible and versatile products and services our industry has to offer.”

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KITPLANES Editor in Chief Marc Cook has been in aviation journalism for more than 30 years. He is a 4000-hour instrument-rated, multi-engine pilot with experience in nearly 150 types. He’s completed two kit aircraft, an Aero Designs Pulsar XP and a Glasair Sportsman 2+2, and currently flies a 2002 GlaStar.

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  1. I maybe the lone voice out here. I’m seeing more people putting money into Aviation they can control. I believe the airlines are going to take a long term hit this time. The GA industry will pick up the demand. This is the second time in twenty years the airlines have been set back with a weak return to normal schedule. Business can’t be competitive if their transportation is unreliable.

    Over the last couple decades GA Aircraft technology has come a long way. The Large Transport aircraft have long been known as the best price, schedule and dependability. Times have changed, today an unpressurized Cessna 208 Caravan holds as good of dispatch record as any airliner. The convenience of a catered schedule makes up for the increase in trip cost. Airlines may never see the full return of the Business Class.

  2. I agree. I’m seeing the same thing locally. You’ve hit the nail on the head, “Times have changed” and we aren’t going back. It will definitely be interesting to see how all of this plays out and how the industry changes. I really don’t see it adapting, however, I definitely see it morphing. Aviation transportation will survive. What comes out at the other end a few years from now will be telling.

  3. While not an aircraft sales/production direct issue – wonder if there still exists a pilot shortage? Assuming, of course, that it did exist in the first place (overblown?) and that training aircraft was/is a constraint.

    • Agree with ‘Pilot Shortage’ still a factor. The greatest majority of the pilots are older and out of the commercial work force or finishing their airline career. Older pilots (+50 Years old)(+10,000 hours) have little interested in Corporate, Air-Taxi, Instruction or Contract jobs. Many of them tell me it’s going backwards.

  4. There is now definite reduction of pilot demand as evidenced from layoff / furlough notices by airlines starting in Oct given the end of US government subsidies.

    Agree that the demand for air services is a function of population; however, given the way many companies are operating virtually today due to the pandemic, I wonder if business travel will be at a lower level going forward. Business travel with higher fares is an important contributor to airlines’ financial health.

    Foreign airlines typically don’t have pilot shortages given airline subsidized ab initio training. More pilots needed, then more ab initio training. Not the case in the US where FOs need a restricted ATP or ATP paid by the pilots.