Aircraft shipments mixed

Jet demand soft

November 1, 2013

GAMA data

Demand for business jets softened in the third quarter, while increased sales of pistons and turboprops helped make up some of the losses, according to data released Oct. 31 by the General Aviation Manufacturers Association.

Comparing the first nine months of 2012 and 2013, worldwide aircraft shipments increased 6.6 percent, while estimated revenue increased 24.5 percent to $15.4 billion, GAMA reported. The global picture masks some losses suffered by U.S. manufacturers, however: Cessna Aircraft Co. shipped 290 aircraft in the first three quarters of 2013, down from 371, a 22-percent decline, while Cessna’s reported revenue dropped 25 percent. Beechcraft Corp. posted a 1-percent drop in total revenue despite increasing the number of aircraft shipped by 45 percent, a reflection of the company’s decision to abandon jet production in favor of piston and turboprop lines.

Beechcraft officials were upbeat, telling the Wichita Eagle that the company has exceeded its sales targets for the year, and expects to exceed delivery targets as well.

“The business is already creating backlogs for 2014, and we see a fair amount of activity in the sales pipeline, so we believe that we will go into 2014 with a lot of momentum,” Beechcraft Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing Shawn Vick told the newspaper.

Cirrus, meanwhile, vaulted past Piper in total revenue, posting a 38-percent increase to $125.5 million against Piper’s $114 million through the first three quarters of 2013 compared to the same period in 2012, when Piper enjoyed a $16 million edge in total revenue reported to GAMA.  

GAMA President and CEO Pete Bunce said in a news release that the NBAA convention drew customers with a “positive mood,” and association members have “good reason to feel optimistic about the future.”

Noting the downturn in the jet market, Bunce said key policy changes could help reverse that trend.

“We are encouraged by the progress of initiatives such as the Small Airplane Revitalization Act—which will increase safety while reducing cost for both industry and government,” Bunce said. “In addition, GAMA continues to work with the FAA to quickly clear the backlog of deliveries that developed over the 16-day government shutdown and mitigate any adverse impact upon our critical fourth quarter numbers."