Worldwide aircraft sales continued to climb in the first quarter, according to data released May 1 by the General Aviation Manufacturers Association.
Piston sales increased 21 percent compared to the first quarter of 2013, and business jet sales increased 19 percent, offsetting an 8-percent decline in turboprop sales. Total billings, a number GAMA reports based on a combination of manufacturer-provided data and estimates, increased 9 percent, and total aircraft shipments increased from 447 to 500.
The gains were not evenly spread, however: GAMA shows Diamond Aircraft of Austria logging a 76-percent increase in aircraft shipped (from 34 aircraft in the first quarter of 2013 to 60 in the first quarter of 2014), and an 84-percent increase in total billing, leading the category by a significant margin.
Cirrus Aircraft, based in Duluth, Minn., posted an 18-percent gain in aircraft shipped, and a 29-percent increase in billing, according to the GAMA data, continuing the company’s upward trend. Piper Aircraft, Inc. of Vero Beach, Fla., also logged a 26-percent increase in units sold, but a 5-percent decline in GAMA-reported billings. Cessna, now united with the Beechcraft and Hawker brands under the Textron Aviation banner, saw sales slip in the piston segment, offset by gains in jet and turboprop sales. Cessna’s overall numbers showed modest gains: a 7-percent increase in aircraft shipped, and a 6-percent increase in billing. Beechcraft’s shipments and billing, as reported by GAMA, dropped 45 percent and 58 percent, respectively, excluding military sales.
"The GA manufacturing industry’s first-quarter numbers in 2014, especially the strong showing in the piston segment, are encouraging and show that we continue to climb our way out of the recession," GAMA President and CEO Pete Bunce said in a news release. "But we remain a long way from being out of the woods as shown by the mixed performance among sectors.”
AOPA, GAMA, and other aviation groups and aircraft makers continue to work with the FAA on an overhaul of Part 23 certification standards, with a goal of increasing safety and reducing aircraft cost. GAMA is also pursuing tax reform and “reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank so that manufacturers have a level playing field to meet the rising demand worldwide for GA aircraft,” Bunce noted.
Gulfstream Aerospace Corp.’s dominance of the business jet market continued, driven in large part by the G650, which began shipping in 2012. Gulfstream sold 39 business jets during the quarter, up 34 percent from the first quarter of 2013. Gulfstream’s total billings of $2.054 billion represents a 36-percent revenue increase, and accounts for 40 percent of the worldwide aircraft market.
GAMA often revises the numbers during the course of the year as data is refined, and there may be some adjustments in the first-quarter numbers released May 1.