The General Aviation Manufacturers Association expressed optimism about the industry’s prospects for 2019 as it announced increased third-quarter 2018 aircraft delivery figures across all aircraft segments. Estimated billings registered a modest decline.
The piston rotorcraft delivery number of 220 units headlined the year-to-date figures, and marked a 15.8-percent increase from 2017’s third-quarter figure of 190 units delivered. Turbine rotorcraft shipments accelerated by 8.3 percent, from 471 units delivered to 510.
Business jet shipments increased from 433 to 446, or 3 percent, not far off last year’s totals through three quarters.
Billings, which GAMA estimates based on public information, declined for airplanes and rotorcraft, with the $12.7 billion total value of all year-to-date airplane billings slipping 3.1 percent. The $2.6 billion of invoiced helicopters was down 2.2 percent year to date—in contrast with the 8.8-percent gain noted between 2017’s third quarter and 2016’s comparable period.
In a news release, GAMA President Pete Bunce said he saw upbeat trends reflected in the consistency of 2018’s third-quarter numbers.
“This is one of those few times since the great recession that we have seen all segments up in shipment numbers,” he said. “While there remain some soft spots in a few segments, including business jet deliveries and impacts being felt from global trade disputes, I’m optimistic about our industry’s performance in 2019 given continuing healthy demand for tax expensing, stabilization of the used market, and the number of new products being introduced to the market place.”
Looking at selected manufacturers and results reported by GAMA, Cirrus Aircraft shipped 106 airplanes in the third quarter consisting of 90 singles and 16 SF50 Vision jets. Cirrus’s total shipments for the year to date added up to 303 aircraft.
Diamond Aircraft had its best quarter of the year in terms of shipments with 14 twin-engine DA–42 and 15 DA–62 models accounting for 76 percent of the quarter’s total.
Brazilian manufacturer Embraer shipped 15 Phenom 300 10-seat jets during the quarter; the aircraft has been noted as an emerging sector leader and has accounted for 24 of the company’s 55 overall aircraft shipments year to date, or 44 percent.
Of the 17 A5 amphibious airplanes Icon Aircraft has shipped so far in 2018, 12 were shipped in the third quarter.
Swiss manufacturer Pilatus shipped 27 aircraft in the quarter, consisting of 20 PC–12 single-engine turboprops, six of its new PC–24 jets, and one STOL workhorse PC–6 Porter. The company has shipped 62 airplanes to date.
Among the 65 singles, twins, and M-class variants shipped by Piper in the third quarter were 34 PA–28–181 Archer III airplanes, as Piper pursued its declared strategy of focusing on the flight training marketplace. The activity brought the total of aircraft shipped so far this year to 152.
The year’s trend continued in Textron Aviation’s Cessna unit, where shipments of Skyhawk SP (30) piston singles and Grand Caravan EX (21) turboprops led the way. Thirteen Citation Latitude jets shipped in the quarter, with the three models combining to account for 64 percent of Cessna’s 110 total third-quarter shipments.
Bell 505 Jet Rangers, the Leonardo AW139, and Robinson Helicopters’ R44 piston and R66 turbine models showed strength among rotorcraft, with the Robinson piston helicopter models and variants representing the majority of the increased rotorcraft deliveries, GAMA noted for the period.