Shipments of GA Airplanes Soar
On Monday, the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) unveiled its 2006 summary of shipments and billings in Washington, D.C., and there was good news all around. GA airplane shipments were up across all types to reach 4,042 units, or 12.9 percent more than in 2005, with billings up 24.1 percent to a record of just under $18.793 billion. A record 28.3 percent of shipments landed outside of North America. Though piston aircraft sales jumped 11.6 percent higher than in 2005 and turboprop shipments spun up 11.5 percent, the strongest growth came from the 885 business jets delivered, driven partly by modest fractional growth but largely due to corporate operators who shunned airline security delays and sought door-to-door routing to fill out their fleet to 25,383 aircraft. Interestingly, more aircraft are flying less time overall -- GAMA estimated that flight hours are down 30 percent since their highs of the early 1980s, possibly from ever faster aircraft and more efficient routings. The increase in equipment brought growth in non-pilot aviation jobs to 521,353, which includes such positions as mechanics and dispatchers. Meanwhile, the pilot population slipped for the fourth consecutive year and is now at 597,109, with only 10 percent of pilots under age 25. The average pilot age has risen by more than four years since 1993 to 45.6. The number of women pilots also declined to 36,101.