GA Sales Up, But Still Anemic

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On a strong domestic economy, sales of general aviation aircraft rose during the first quarter of 2018 over the same period last year, the General Aviation Manufactures Association said on Thursday. The rosy sales picture was largely driven by increased turboprop and piston helicopter sales, GAMA said. And while both unit volume and sales revenue were up, data from the individual companies is less encouraging.

Turboprop sales rose from 102 to 115 during the first quarter—a 12.7 percent rise—but piston helicopters showed the greatest strength, rising to 81 from 58 units last year, a 39.7 percent increase that’s the largest quarterly rise in at least five years, according to GAMA data. Once again, however, shade was cast on the fixed-wing piston segment, which declined slightly to 200 from 203, a 1.5 percent retreat. That makes it on track to build fewer than 1000 new aircraft in 2018 worldwide.

GAMA President Pete Bunce attributed the strong piston helicopter market to escalating demand for training aircraft. He said the other segments were buoyed by global economic growth and aerospace innovation. Companies report that some of that demand is coming from Asia as regional and national airlines gear up to train pilots for expanding airline ops.

The bizjet segment continues the flat performance we’ve seen since the downturn of 2008. GAMA data shows 132 bizjets for the first quarter compared to 130 in 2017. Jet sales have shown little change since 2008, although there were small spikes in 2014 and 2015.

Cirrus led first quarter piston output with 74 aircraft sold, followed by Tecnam with 45, Piper at 34, Diamond at 31, Cessna with 23 and Mooney with four aircraft.

Comments (4)


Posted by: Rafael Sierra | May 11, 2018 7:30 AM    Report this comment

Yikes, 4 for Mooney? I never expected them to be anything but back of the pack, but that is not a promising number after how much investment they made in that factory.

How many years left before they're bankrupt again? What will that be, seven, eight bankruptcies?

Posted by: Joshua Levinson | May 11, 2018 8:10 AM    Report this comment

If you look at the fact that Vans website has 30 kits completed and flown since the start of the year and 21 in the first quarter (when they were bought is hard to tell) you quickly realize that something is wrong with the economics on the new certified airplanes. Its hard to imagine that a single kit plane manufacturer could match the sells of Cessna? Which brings up a question in my mind why doesn't the GAMA include kit plane statistics in their reports?

Posted by: Joseph Chambers | May 11, 2018 9:39 AM    Report this comment

The market is speaking. How many of those 200-ish piston sales were to individuals vs. flight schools or companies?

Well-designed homebuilts from reputable kit manufacturers are now offering a better value to individual owners. One-size-fits-all iron control over configuration, production, and maintenance is not a winning proposition.

Posted by: Robert Gatlin-Martin | May 11, 2018 3:13 PM    Report this comment

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