Kinks remain in the supply chain and a shortage of skilled workers persists, but demand for general aviation aircraft led to many double-digit increases in shipment and billing tallies for the first half of 2022.
The General Aviation Manufacturers Association's quarterly release on August 24 of aircraft shipment and billing data reported by member companies marks a continuation of an upward trend that provoked enthusiasm earlier this year when GAMA released totals for 2021 that included $25.2 billion in annual aircraft billing, up 10.2 percent from the pandemic-ravaged 2020.
"Demand for general aviation aircraft continues at a robust pace. Since the initial setbacks of the pandemic, we have seen some segments make strides with growing backlogs and high rates of operations while others are still diligently working to navigate the path to recovery," said GAMA President and CEO Pete Bunce, in a news release. "Despite ongoing supply chain and workforce issues, our industry continues to make progress and strategically posture for the future, which is a true testament to our strength and durability."
Honda Aircraft Co. and Piper Aircraft Inc. both posted strong first-half numbers, with Honda (which began the second quarter under new leadership) shipping 10 HondaJets and collecting $57.5 million in revenue, increases of about 67 percent and 80 percent, respectively. Piper reported 99 aircraft shipments during the first two quarters of 2022, up nearly 46 percent from the same period in 2021. Piper's billing for the period rose to $107.8 million, an increase of nearly 35 percent.
Textron Aviation also posted double-digit gains in aircraft shipments and billing in the first half of 2022 compared to the same period in the prior year, despite continued softening of new piston airplane deliveries. The only company fielding products in all three of the GAMA reporting segments for fixed-wing aircraft (pistons, turboprops, and business jets), Textron shipped 98 piston aircraft in the first half of the year, down from 104 deliveries of those same models in the first half of 2021. Textron also shipped 66 turboprops (including the first CE–408 SkyCourier), and 87 Cessna Citation variants in the business jet category. Sales of the all-time bestselling Cessna 172 dipped to 62 aircraft from 74 delivered in the first half of 2022, offset by upticks in deliveries of the Cessna 182T (19 aircraft) and Cessna 206 Turbo Stationair (17 aircraft) during the first half of the year.
Deliveries of Beechcraft Bonanza and Baron models continued to be paused through the first half of 2022 after none were shipped in 2021. Textron Aviation spokesman Duane Frazier emailed after a story about the May report on GAMA's first-quarter numbers noted the persistent absence of these models from the company-reported tallies. Frazier noted in the May 25 email that "both aircraft had their production paused while upgrades were integrated into the cockpit and cabin of the aircraft," and that new Barons and Bonanzas were in production with new interior schemes, a new cockpit layout, and other upgrades, and that the seventy-fifth anniversary limited edition of the Bonanza announced in 2021 had sold out: "Deliveries will begin this summer. Barons and Bonanzas also have a very strong backlog."
No Barons or Bonanzas shipped in through June 30, according to the GAMA report.
Some of Cessna's piston market share appears to have shifted to Piper Aircraft Co., which posted increased sales of the Piper Pilot 100i made for training (23 aircraft in the first half of 2022, up from 9 in the first half of 2021), along with the Archer III variant of the PA–28 (40 aircraft, up from 33 in the first half of 2021). Sales of Seminole twins also ticked up, from 5 in the first half of 2021 to 8 in the first half of 2022
Cirrus Aircraft held its place as the leading purveyor of piston airplanes worldwide, with 181 deliveries of its popular SR-series pistons delivered in 2022 through June 30, and another 30 SF50 Vision Jets, nearly matching the six-month total of 31 Vision Jets shipped in the first half of 2020. Cirrus posted a 23-percent increase in total billing for the first half of 2022 compared to the same period in the prior year, up to $260.6 million, with an 8-percent increase in airframes shipped (all models).
Business jet market leaders Gulfstream Aerospace Corp. and Bombardier Inc. both saw some slippage in the first half of 2022, with Gulfstream's 47 deliveries and $2.6 billion in billing down 4 percent and less than 1 percent, respectively, while Bombardier slipped by about 11 percent in those categories. Brazilian rival Embraer shipped 29 aircraft and billed customers $386.9 million during the first half of 2022, down 12 percent and 7 percent, respectively, from the same period in 2021.
While the business aviation industry has done much to highlight the nascent use of sustainable fuels developed from biological sources other than fossilized dinosaurs, news of potential climate-related action specifically targeting business jets provoked swift reaction from the industry. French Transport Minister Clement Beaune made public a desire to tax private jet use, or otherwise regulate such operations. "It's clear that habits will have to change," he told a French television station, according to Bloomberg.
Beaune acknowledged that such action would be "symbolic," though he called for policies to drive more people to travel by train. Such talk brought a swift response from the European Business Aviation Association, which provided statements on the topic to Corporate Jet Investor from EBAA Chief Operations Officer Robert Baltus, who said Beaune's comments were "very unfortunate," and such action would harm the economy by targeting the very people who are "keeping France and the EU afloat."
"Bullying the smallest segment of the aviation sector representing 0.04 [percent] of the global CO2 emission because it's an easy target and the crowd demands a sacrifice won't solve anything," Baltus said. "On the contrary, it will further deteriorate European economies and the lives of the citizens we serve and employ."