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Airframers seek leadership as deliveries hold steady

GAMA report comes with requests, comment on protests

The General Aviation Manufacturers Association released its quarterly report on shipments and billing, noting modest gains in most measurements, with a few words pushing back on protests in Europe that targeted business aviation's annual gathering in Geneva, and requesting support from lawmakers on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean.

Deliveries of primary trainers like the Piper Pilot 100i ticked up in the first quarter, offsetting a slight decline in business jet deliveries in terms of aircraft numbers, though not replacing the revenue. Photo by Mike Fizer.

Piston airplanes posted the most significant gain in the first three months of 2023, with 294 aircraft delivered—a 10.1-percent increase—while turboprop aircraft deliveries increased 6.4 percent to 117 aircraft, and business jet deliveries were nearly flat: The industry reported 117 business jet deliveries through March 31, down a tick from 118 in the first three months of 2022.

The numbers were issued days after protesters chained themselves to business jets parked at the European Business Aviation Convention and Exhibition (EBACE) in Geneva, where Reuters noted the sale of the largest private jet yet, a Boeing 777-9, to an undisclosed buyer for an undisclosed sum.

GAMA President and CEO Pete Bunce, in a press release reporting the quarterly shipment and billing numbers reported by member firms, said aircraft manufacturers are delivering advanced technologies that enhance safety and fuel efficiency.

Airport officials in Geneva reported four people were treated for minor injuries after security clashed with climate protesters who chained themselves to parked aircraft. Photo courtesy of Stay Grounded/Greenpeace.

“During this transformative time in aerospace, our manufacturers continually demonstrate that our sector is the technology incubator for safety and sustainability. This message is being emphasized this week at EBACE in Geneva and will also be a focus at the Paris Airshow as we counter the short-sighted, irrational attacks directed upon business aviation in Europe,” Bunce said. “In stark contrast, emphasis on our demonstrated record of environmental sustainability leadership was very well received on Capitol Hill in early May when GAMA member company leaders participated in more than 125 meetings with U.S. legislators.”

Bunce said other issues discussed with lawmakers “across the political spectrum included the immediate need for a confirmed FAA Administrator, improved training for the young FAA workforce, strengthened bilateral engagement and timely passage of an FAA reauthorization bill to provide clear, multi-year direction for the agency.”

The industry posted a 3.5-percent decline in airplane billings for the first three quarters of 2022, slipping to $3.7 billion as piston airplanes constituted a larger share of overall deliveries.

Much of that demand is reflected in individual company reports compiled by GAMA, such as Cirrus Aircraft, which delivered 90 aircraft in the first quarter, including 18 SF50 Vision Jets and 72 SR-series piston airplanes, up from 79 aircraft (11 of them SF50s) during the first quarter of 2022. Textron Aviation sold more Cessna 172 Skyhawks (26) and Cessna 182 Skylanes (11) in the first quarter than in the same period of 2022, up from 20 and nine of each model, respectively. Piper Aircraft’s piston sales slipped slightly, from 37 to 32 aircraft, most of those PA-28-181 Archer and Pilot 100i models (that the company reports on a single line).

Diamond Aircraft posted larger gains, with a total of 63 deliveries across all models (piston singles and twins) in the first quarter, up from 40 aircraft in the same period of 2022.

Bunce noted that the industry continues to face challenges beyond public perception, such as ongoing supply chain and workforce limitations, and “North American regulatory process challenges.”

Some headwinds appear to be more manufacturer-specific. Honda Aircraft reported just one HondaJet delivery in the first quarter, down from four HondaJets delivered in the first quarter of 2022; the company delivered 17 HondaJets for the year, and rolled out the HondaJet Elite II at EBACE. The company was also pushing back on concerns raised by fractional ownership firm Jet It, which grounded its HondaJet fleet following a recent runway excursion in South Carolina. Honda Aircraft issued a brief statement that “Jet It’s decision to ground their HondaJet fleet was made independently by Jet It. Importantly, neither Honda Aircraft Company nor any aviation authority has recommended this grounding. Therefore, we do not have any comments to offer at this time about the decision by Jet It to ground its fleet.”

Dassault Aviation CEO Eric Trappier, speaking during a pre-conference panel on sustainability held just before EBACE, said the industry's image in Europe has suffered as climate activists protest with growing frequency.

“We need to work a little bit more here in Europe, because European bodies are not totally convinced…it is really a little bit against business aviation,” said Trappier, according to Reuters. “We need to collectively try to explain to them the use of … business [aircraft] and the importance of it in the resurgence of the economy.”

Jim Moore

Jim Moore

Managing Editor-Digital Media
Digital Media Managing Editor Jim Moore joined AOPA in 2011 and is an instrument-rated private pilot, as well as a certificated remote pilot, who enjoys competition aerobatics and flying drones.
Topics: Financial, General Aviation Manufacturers Association

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