May 10, 2012
By Dan Namowitz
General aviation shipments and billings fell 2.1 percent in the 2012 first quarter, as segments showed mixed performances and industry leaders monitored congressional action that could improve availability of financing.
The General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) released figures showing that in the first three months of 2012, worldwide GA airplane shipments declined from 377 units in 2011 to 369 units. Billings of $3.39 billion marked an 8-percent decline from $3.68 billion.
Manufacturers shipped 184 piston airplanes, down 2.1 percent from 188 units delivered during the same period in 2011, GAMA said. Turboprop shipments rose 3.3 percent, with 63 delivered compared to 61 in the 2011 first quarter. Business jet shipments totaled 122 units, down 4.7 percent from 128 delivered during the 2011 first quarter.
“The first quarter shipment data show mixed performance across the segments,” said Pete Bunce, GAMA president and CEO, in a news release. “One continuing concern is the lack of available financing around the world. An important step forward would be for the U.S. Congress to quickly reauthorize the Export-Import Bank. The lending authority of the bank spurs sales which are essential to revitalizing the manufacturing sector.”
On May 9 the House of Representatives voted 330-93 to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank and raise its borrowing limit from $100 billion to $140 billion. The vote came as the bank approached its borrowing limit, and after congressional leaders reached a deal that broke a weeks-long deadlock, according to news reports. Critics had expressed concern that the bank’s role in the marketplace amounts to corporate subsidies.
The Senate was expected to promptly follow up on the House vote. Bunce lauded the House action and urged the Senate to “quickly follow suit.”
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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