Analysts still expect gains in the world aircraft market for 2015, though the year is not off to a sparkling start, according to the latest data from the General Aviation Manufacturers Association. Fixed-wing deliveries declined 15 percent overall for the first three months of the year, compared to the same period in 2014; worldwide helicopter deliveries were softer still, down 18.3 percent for the first quarter, with a similar percentage decline in billing. On the fixed-wing side, the revenue decline was 12.6 percent, reflecting the relative strength of big-ticket airframes.
Aviation analysts said one quarter does not make a trend, and there’s still time for shipments and billing to catch up, though the weakness of overseas markets is cause for concern.
There are “still grounds for cautious optimism,” said Richard Aboulafia of the Teal Group in an email to AOPA. He noted the first-quarter data is “worrying,” though, “still, it’s just one quarter, and overall last year was pretty good.”
Brian Foley of Brian Foley Associates generally agreed.
“I still expect this positive trend to continue this year,” Foley wrote to AOPA, noting that helicopters are another matter.
GAMA President and CEO Pete Bunce said the first-quarter totals reflect “some renewed headwinds in several regions of the world, including Asia, parts of Europe, and Latin America,” adding that the industry is focused on regaining momentum and needs some help from lawmakers.
“We need the U.S. Congress to be a strong partner and reauthorize the Export-Import Bank before the June 30 deadline,” Bunce said in a news release. “It is time to stop playing political games with industry jobs. Congress needs to move ahead and pass reauthorization quickly to ensure a level global playing field and provide needed stability in a difficult market.”
The 80-year-old Export-Import Bank has been targeted by various conservative groups as a waste of taxpayer dollars and an example of “corporate welfare,” as noted in a recent report on the subject by the Brookings Institution. More than 50 organizations signed a letter in April demanding that the bank’s charter not be renewed. Proponents, on the other hand, argue that the bank costs taxpayers relatively little, and benefits the economy by giving companies greater access to emerging markets. The bank facilitates exports by offering credit to companies doing business overseas.
Bloomberg reported that Textron has an optimistic long view, with CEO Scott Donnelly telling the news service May 7 that “we really have been through the worst of this. Things have stabilized. We have to think about the future.”
To that end, Donnelly revealed that Textron subsidiary Cessna Aircraft is working on new jet offerings, including a follow to the Citation Latitude that will debut this year.