February 17, 2009
By Mike Collins
Strong general aviation aircraft billings in 2008 were tempered by a decrease in the number of new aircraft delivered worldwide, the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) announced Feb. 17. “We all know that the deteriorating economic situation is a severe thunderstorm that’s affecting our flight path,” said GAMA Chairman Mark Van Tine, president and CEO of Jeppesen. The industry is feeling a significant impact from the slowing worldwide economy, he said.
Billings for new aircraft delivered worldwide during 2008 set an industry record of $24.8 billion, 13.4 percent more than the previous year’s $21.9 billion. However, the number of GA airplanes shipped last year decreased for the first time in five years—to 3,969, a drop of 7.1 percent from 2007.
Manufacturers in the United States reported billings of $13.35 billion during 2008, up 11.8 percent from the previous year. U.S. shipments of 3,079 were 6.1 percent lower than the 2007 totals. The number of piston-engine aircraft shipped during 2008 decreased, both in the United States and worldwide, while shipments of turboprops and business jets increased across both markets.
“General aviation sustained collateral damage” as companies sought to address public concerns about aircraft ownership, Van Tine noted. To communicate the value of business aviation, GAMA has teamed with the National Business Aviation Association to launch an advocacy campaign, “No Plane No Gain.” The effort will communicate four messages about business aviation—that it creates jobs, offers a lifeline to communities with little or no airline service, improves productivity, and provides sorely needed humanitarian assistance—through a dedicated No Plane No Gain Web site, paid advertising, and other channels.
Pete Bunce, GAMA’s president and CEO, said there are other thunderstorms in the industry’s flight path. He cited the need to shape regulatory policy in Europe and to engage the new Congress—as well as the Obama administration—in Washington, D.C.
“Our industry is united behind some common principles” regarding the environment, Bunce said. GAMA, AOPA, and at least 18 other aviation organizations have agreed that federal preemption is needed for environmental matters, and that the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) should address climate change on an international basis. The FAA’s NextGen air traffic control modernization program will provide direct environmental benefits, he added.
Mike Collins has worked for AOPA’s media network since 1994. He holds a private pilot certificate with an instrument rating.
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