Shipments and billings decline in ’09

 - February 23, 2010, 9:39 AM

With worldwide shipments and billings of general aviation airplanes down in all categories in 2009, the global economic downturn led to one of the toughest years ever for general aviation manufacturers. But General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) chairman Rob Wilson said that a “mixed scorecard” of recovery indicators suggests the GA industry is “well positioned for growth.

“The inventory of used aircraft has peaked and is now declining, flying hours are on the rise and inquiries for new orders are beginning to grow again,” he told attendees at GAMA’s annual industry review and market outlook briefing in Washington last month. He added that last year also showed that the fastest expanding markets were again outside North America, illustrating worldwide recognition of the importance of general aviation to conducting business in a global economy.

“While these positive factors give us reason for optimism, we know that a full recovery will take time,” said Wilson, who is president of Honeywell Business and General Aviation. “Our manufacturers continue to plan and invest for future growth; we are confident that our industry will remain a power engine for economic recovery and quality job creation around the world.”

Last year, manufacturers delivered 1,178 aircraft (870 jets and 308 turboprops) compared with 1,724 aircraft (1,313 jets and 411 turboprops) in 2008, when airframers were delivering aircraft purchased during the strong economic years of 2006 and 2007 (see chart). (To see results from specific manufacturers, see the state of the industry article on page 14.)

GAMA president and CEO Pete Bunce spotlighted policies that will be instrumental in ensuring a robust recovery of the general aviation manufacturing industry. He expressed the association’s continued strong support for ATC modernization through coordinated government-industry development of NextGen and the Single European Sky ATM Research (Sesar) initiative to prevent duplication of equipage and enable properly equipped aircraft to operate in both U.S. and European airspace.

“The FAA made important progress in the implementation of NextGen in 2009 with initial deployment of the ground infrastructure and the publication of technical standard orders [TSOs] for automatic dependent surveillance–broadcast [ADS-B],” said Bunce. “Now, one of the crucial factors in the acceleration of this modernization effort is to equip aircraft with the avionics needed to utilize these new satellite-based technologies. We seek a public-private partnership to provide incentives for equipage as fundamental to achieving NextGen safety, capacity and environmental benefits at an earlier date.”

Bunce also emphasized the industry’s commitment to partner with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). “The general aviation community has worked cooperatively with TSA to make tremendous improvements to the original Large Aircraft Security Program proposed at the end of 2008,” he said. “We call on the TSA to publish a supplemental rulemaking proposal in the very near future that properly assesses security risks and reflects appropriate mitigations.”