Piston Sales Up, But The Big Picture’s Still Grim


As AVweb reported Thursday, the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) delivered a bushel of bad news (along with some bright spots in piston single sales) in its annual report, and the phones started ringing in corporate communications offices. “Cessna’s 2003 production numbers and market share are lower than 2002’s due to our revised Citation delivery schedule,” Cessna spokeswoman Jessica Meyers said in a statement. The company sold a third fewer Citations in 2003 (196) than it did in 2002. Cessna’s order books are fat (493 planes worth $3.28 billion) for its CJ3, Mustang, XLS and Sovereign models, aircraft that are still under development. Another big name, New Piper, bucked the overall recovery trend in piston aircraft and saw a 20-percent drop in sales. Raytheon actually sold four more airplanes (263) in 2003 than in 2002. Raytheon CEO Jim Schuster said an emphasis on quality made the difference. Meanwhile, New Piper spokesman Mark Miller said, “We expect sales to be roughly flat this year but we feel cautiously optimistic about the direction of the industry.” Some of Raytheon’s sales came at Cessna’s expense. Just for fun, we thought we’d have a look at what the mandarins of aviation were saying at the same time last year and things haven’t changed much. “Although the numbers are down, this is not the biggest one-year decrease our industry has ever experienced,” said then-GAMA Chairman Bill Boisture.