GAMA: Billings Rise, But Bizjets Continue Slide

 - September 2, 2013, 2:10 AM

Total GA airplane billings in the first half of the year reached $10.4 billion, an increase of more than 25 percent over the same period last year, according to statistics released last month by the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA). The tally marks the first time since 2008 that the industry revenue has exceeded $10 billion in the first half of the year. Overall, GA airplane shipments rose nearly 9 percent over the previous year, but despite the increase, the total number of business jet deliveries decreased by more than 4 percent over the first half of 2012, with 283 handed over compared with 295 in the same period last year.

Cessna saw deliveries slip by more than 40 percent year-over-year. The Textron subsidiary handed over fewer than half the number of Citation Mustangs and CJ3s as it did in the first six months of last year, and nine fewer CJ4s. During the company’s second-quarter earnings call, Textron president, CEO and chairman Scott Donnelly addressed the continued soft market. “As we expected, reduced discounting to entice customers into the market did result in lower sales volume, as we delivered 20 jets compared with 49 a year ago. However, we achieved positive new jet pricing on both a sequential and year-over-year basis, which was our intent.” According to Donnelly, the OEM is also experiencing some teething pains with the integration of new Garmin cockpits in the M2, Citation X and Sovereign, pushing deliveries of those aircraft into the latter part of the year or early next year. As a result of those lower delivery totals, Cessna’s second-quarter revenues were down $203 million year-over-year.

Fellow Wichita airframer Beechcraft completed its exit from the business jet arena in the first quarter with the delivery of its final half-dozen Hawker 4000s.

In Savannah, Gulfstream delivered 65 jets, an increase of nearly 63 percent over the first half of last year. The General Dynamics subsidiary doubled the output of its mid- and super-midsize aircraft as production of the G280 continues to ramp up, while the new ultra-long-range G650 contributed to Gulfstream’s 25-aircraft increase in the large-cabin class. That surge allowed Gulfstream to surpass Bombardier in the first half of the year as the world’s leading business jet manufacturer in terms of delivery value. It handed over $3.3 billion worth of jets in the first half of the year; the Canadian airframer recorded $3.1 billion in shipments.

Bombardier showed a 12-percent rise in shipments over the first six months of 2012, boosted by increases in the number of super-midsize Challenger 300s and large-cabin long-range Globals.

Embraer saw a nearly 25-percent increase in deliveries, with the Brazilian airframer more than doubling its output of Legacy 650s and even experiencing an uptick in the number of light Phenom 100s handed over.

Driven by the more than halving of its Falcon 2000LX deliveries from the first half of the previous year, Dassault saw a nearly 15-percent decrease in shipments year-over-year. A company spokesman attributed the drop-off to normal production ebb and flow. The French manufacturer also delivered its first Falcon 2000S in the second quarter.

Among the bizliner manufacturers, Airbus handed over one fewer ACJ this year than it did in last year’s first half, while Boeing halved its output from the previous year, delivering three BBJs during the first six months. Embraer boosted its output, with the addition of two private shuttles (ERJs and E-Jets), having delivered none in the first half of last year.

Good News in Turboprop Sector

On the turboprop side, the results were positive. GAMA recently divided its reporting of the segment into single-engine and multi-engine categories. While the former showed a year-over-year increase of more than 4 percent, the pressurized turboprop singles experienced a decline of 4 percent, with slight delivery decreases from Pilatus and Piper cancelling out the slight increase Daher-Socata experienced.

Based on a ramp-up in King Air production, which saw 24 more aircraft deliveries in the first six months of 2013, a revitalized Beechcraft boosted the twin-engine turboprop category by better than 70 percent over the previous year. The OEM doubled its deliveries of King Air 350i/ERs and more than tripled the number of King Air B250s it handed over year-over-year. Piaggio, currently the only other pressurized turboprop twin manufacturer, said it will release delivery totals of its Avanti II at year-end, rather than quarterly.

“We are encouraged to see a strong increase in billings this quarter, but the mixed results in shipments–and the differences in performance among sectors–demonstrate that GA airplane manufacturers still face some strong headwinds as the global economy recovers,” said GAMA president and CEO Pete Bunce.