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Tue, Feb 17, 2009

Annual GA Shipments Down For First Time In Five Years

Steep Decline In Piston Deliveries Offset Growth In Turbines

The news wasn't unexpected, but it still hurts. On Tuesday, the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) announced 2008 year-end worldwide shipments of general aviation airplanes decreased for the first time in five years, with steep drops in piston aircraft deliveries cutting into continued growth in the turbine market.

Speaking at GAMA's Annual Industry Review and Market Outlook Briefing, GAMA Chairman, Mark Van Tine, president and CEO of Jeppesen, reported that despite a positive year for revenue attributed to order backlog, the industry is feeling a significant impact from the slowing worldwide economy.

"Many of GAMA's member companies have been forced to reduce their work force as they manage backlogs to compensate for the weakness in orders."  Van Tine added, "While our industry is challenged in the current economic climate, we are focused on planning for a stronger future. The world's economy depends upon a robust air transportation system and general aviation is absolutely a vital component of that global system. Our industry's continued investment in research and development of new products is unprecedented. We have learned from history that investing smartly in our future and that of our customers' is the best way to build our way out of tough economic times."

The piston airplane segment was down 20.8 percent in 2008, with 2,119 units delivered as compared to 2,675 airplanes in 2007. The turboprop segment experienced the strongest growth in 2008 with shipments up nearly 17 percent. 535 turboprops were shipped, up from 459 units in 2007. Business jet shipments reached a new plateau in 2008 with a total of 1,315 airplanes, up 15.6 percent over the previous year's figure of 1,138 airplanes.

Almost all manufacturers of piston aircraft showed a decline in their 2008 delivery numbers. Cessna delivered 74 fewer pistons for the year, while Cirrus Aircraft sent 161 fewer planes out the door.

Diamond Aircraft delivered 163 fewer piston aircraft in 2008 than in the year preceding, with the company's Q4 figures in particular taking a big hit. Officials with the company tell ANN they expect the manufacturer's Q1 2009 delivery numbers to rebound, due to deliveries starting on a number of fleet orders early this year.

Exceptions to the downward trend in piston deliveries were Gippsland Aeronautics, which delivered two more Airvans in 2008 than in the preceding year; Piper, which delivered 48 more piston aircraft than in 2007, fueled by continued demand for the PA-46 Matrix; and Quartz Mountain Aerospace, which at 11 QMA-11 single-engine pistons in 2008, compared with zero planes in 2007.

Industry billings reached $24.8 billion, a 13.4 percent increase over 2007. The positive billings numbers reflect the fulfillment of orders placed for turboprops and business jets during the strong economic years of 2006 and 2007.

Conversely, 2008 year-end, worldwide shipments of general aviation airplanes showed a decline with a total of 3,969 units, a 7.1 percent decrease over the previous year's total of 4,272 airplanes.

FMI: www.gama.aero, Download The Report (.pdf)

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