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Aircraft industry shaken but deliveries mostly not stirred in Q3Aircraft industry shaken but deliveries mostly not stirred in Q3

Double-digit growth in piston-aircraft and business-jet deliveries continued the year’s trend to date for aircraft manufacturers in a third quarter that produced some headline-making reshufflings of the industry’s players.

Turboprops and rotorcraft continued to lag behind last year’s output, according to the General Aviation Manufacturers Association’s third-quarter 2019 report released November 15.

The report also noted that despite mixed manufacturing results, aircraft producers showed a continued readiness to gear up for more activity.

“The first nine months of 2019 show positive results for business jets and piston airplanes,” GAMA President Pete Bunce said in a news release. “Turboprops and rotorcraft, however, continued to encounter headwinds. Despite these mixed results, our manufacturers continue their investments in advanced factory machinery, design software, and associated processes that keep product development cycles robust and in-turn bring advances in fuel efficiency, capability, and safety to the global fleet.”

The 516 business jet deliveries in the first nine months of 2019 marked a 15.4-percent jump from 447 in 2018. Piston airplane deliveries also trended upward 12.3 percent as deliveries increased from 781 units to 877.

Turboprop deliveries declined to 349 aircraft from 395 sold in the first nine months of 2018. The rotorcraft category’s decline of 22.2 percent—from 733 to 570 aircraft delivered—was most pronounced in the piston-powered line, where deliveries skidded 38.2 percent from 220 to 136. Turbine-powered rotorcraft put in a more moderate decline—the reduction from 513 to 434 aircraft amounting to a 15.4-percent slippage.

The period brought a mix of news from individual manufacturers. AOPA reported in early November that Epic Aircraft had achieved certification of its E1000 single-engine turboprop, a six-seat, 325-knot, PT6A-67A-powered, 1,200-shaft-horsepower aircraft based on a kit airplane the company has been selling since 2005.

However shortly thereafter the aircraft manufacturing industry reverberated with news of the apparent closing of the Mooney Aircraft factory in Kerrville, Texas, and the layoff of employees. According to the GAMA report, Mooney had delivered eight aircraft in 2019 consisting of two M20U Ovation Ultras and six M20V Acclaim Ultras. Two of each model were third-quarter deliveries.

In other highlights:

  • Textron’s Cessna unit had its busiest quarter, delivering 117 of the year’s 312 aircraft across its piston-single, turboprop-single Caravan, and Citation jet lines.
  • Piper Aircraft delivered 62 of the year’s 182 new aircraft in the quarter, 39 of which were training-focused PA–28-181 Archer III airplanes, roughly consistent with the first two quarters.
  • Fifty-one of the 107 airplanes Cirrus Aircraft delivered in the July-through-September quarter were line-topping SR22T singles. The 21 SF50 Vision Jets rolled out in the third quarter were among 52 of the very light jets delivered in 2019, the most for a quarter of 2019.
  • Daher delivered 10 new TBM 940 single-engine turboprops of 19 for the year. Its new acquisition, Quest Aircraft, delivered two Kodiak 100 short-field-capable workhorse turboprops in the quarter, with its 15 total deliveries included in Daher’s bottom-line delivery tally of 45 aircraft.
  • Thrush Aircraft, the manufacturer of aerial application aircraft that filed for bankruptcy earlier in 2019, announced completion of a restructuring that leaves the company “well positioned for growth.”
Dan Namowitz

Dan Namowitz

Associate Editor Web
Associate Editor Web Dan Namowitz has been writing for AOPA in a variety of capacities since 1991. He has been a flight instructor since 1990 and is a 30-year AOPA member.
Topics: Aircraft, Aviation Industry, Financial

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