August 4, 2011
By Dan Namowitz
Worldwide sales of general aviation aircraft fell 15.5 percent during the first six months of 2011, said the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) and an aerospace workers union in a statement that blamed political rhetoric for demonizing the industry and taking away jobs.
GAMA released sales figures Aug. 4 that also showed total billings for GA airplanes of $7.3 billion, down 22.3 percent, in a “difficult year” for aviation manufacturers.
GAMA President and CEO Pete Bunce said in the joint release that recent anti-general-aviation comments from the administration took a toll on the aviation economy, destroying jobs.
“These negative shipment numbers demonstrate precisely how ill-timed and potentially destructive the Obama Administration’s rhetoric and policies toward corporate jets are for general aviation,” he said. "This Administration has singled out business aircraft owners with political demagoguery. It is simply astonishing that they cannot connect the dots back to manufacturing jobs and realize they are doing more damage to an industry that has obviously not yet clawed its way out of this recession.”
Instead of demonizing the industry, Bunce said, “President Obama should stand up for general aviation manufacturing jobs.”
Tom Buffenbarger, international president of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, joined Bunce in demanding a show of sincerity about aviation job growth from the administration.
“If President Obama ever becomes interested in creating general aviation jobs rather than using the industry as a punching bag, we are ready to work with him to advance these job and business opportunities,” he said.
According to GAMA, piston-powered airplane shipments totaled 387 units compared to 424 units delivered in the first six months of 2010, a decrease of 8.7 percent. Turboprop shipments declined 8.9 percent or 143 units in 2011, compared to 157 units in the 2010 period. Some 261 business jets were shipped—down 26.5 percent.
While billings and shipments declined overall for the industry, Piper Aircraft found a bright spot. Piper reported that its billing grew nearly 16 percent during the first six months of the year to $57.3 million. The company sold a total of 38 Meridians, Matrixes, and Mirages, up two aircraft over the same six-month period from 2010.
GAMA also criticized an administration proposal to extend the depreciation of an investment in a business aircraft from five years to seven on grounds that the current rule amounts to a tax loophole.
Under the rule, in effect since the 1980s, aircraft receive the same treatment as other business assets such as “cars, buses, trucks, and construction equipment,” GAMA said, adding that the change would have minimal impact on the federal deficit.
Dan Namowitz is an aviation writer and flight instructor. He has been a pilot since 1985 and an instructor since 1990.
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