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Demand for trainers drives manufacturing gainsDemand for trainers drives manufacturing gains

Airplane and rotorcraft shipments increased in the second quarter of 2018 while billings declined. Demand for training aircraft was a bright spot of the “mixed” data reported by the General Aviation Manufacturers Association on Aug. 6.

Aircraft shipments are up for trainers, including the venerable Cessna 172, according to the General Aviation Manufacturers Association. Photo by Mike Fizer.

Total airplane shipments grew five percent compared to the first half of 2017, from 1,001 to 1,054 units shipped in the first half of 2018. However, billings contracted five percent from $9.03 billion to $8.58 billion.

Rotorcraft shipment growth of 6.7 percent, from 463 units to 494, was accompanied by an 11.6-percent decline in the value billed: $1.66 billion compared to $1.88 billion in 2017 at this point.

Piston airplane deliveries climbed 6.4 percent from 468 to 498 in the year-to-date comparison with 2017. Turboprop deliveries picked up by 9.7 percent from 237 units in 2017 to 260 units so far in 2018. Business jet deliveries flattened to match last year’s six-month delivery number of 296 aircraft.

The strength shown by the rotorcraft piston category at the last quarterly report in May continued, with results for the first six months of the year rising to 149 unit deliveries, from 125 piston rotorcraft in the first half of 2017, a 19.2-percent rate of growth. Turbine rotorcraft deliveries increased 2.1 percent, from 338 to 345.

“Though this quarter’s results are mixed, we are glad to see that demands for training aircraft are driving increase in the piston and rotorcraft segments,” said GAMA President Pete Bunce, adding that Boeing’s 2018 Pilot and Technician Outlook showed demand for pilots, technicians, and other industry workers “at an all-time high.”

In a sampling of manufacturers’ reports, deliveries of Cirrus airplanes increased from 84 in the first quarter to 113 this quarter, with all three of its single-engine models showing gains, and the 15 Vision SF50 light jets delivered topping the 10 shipped in the first quarter.

Reported gains for Cessna were reflected largely in Cessna 172 Skyhawk SP, Cessna 182T Skylane, and Cessna 208B Grand Caravan EX single-engine model shipments, and delivery growth within the Citation jet family.

Piper Aircraft showed delivery growth across product lines, with PA–28–181 Archer III singles up from 16 to 22 and PA–44 Seminole twins shipped doubling from five to 10 in the quarter. Both types are widely used as trainers.

Robinson Helicopter, which shipped 88 aircraft in the first quarter, shipped 85 aircraft in the second quarter, reporting small declines across most products but increases for its turbine R66 model, from 18 units to 22. Airbus Helicopters, Bell, and Leonardo Helicopters all turned in strong aircraft delivery growth results.

“We hope the continued interest in training aircraft as well as in new, safety-enhancing products and technology our member companies are bringing to the market will continue to drive increases in future quarters, and drive increases in people joining the industry’s workforce,” Bunce said.

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, General Aviation Manufacturers Association, Aviation Industry

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