New Turbine Bizplane Deliveries Continue to Slide, Says GAMA

 - August 5, 2016, 5:07 PM
New business jets packed the static display at the 2015 NBAA show but since then the pace of new aircraft deliveries has slowed. [Photo: AIN]

Pressurized turbine-powered business aircraft deliveries were down more than 3 percent for the first half of the year, compared with the first six months of 2015, according to statistics released today by the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA). OEMs handed over 292 jets worldwide, a decrease of more than 4 percent from the 305 delivered a year ago, despite the in-service introduction of the HondaJet, which accounted for 10 units. Overall, airplane billings logged by GAMA fell 11 percent from $10.4 billion to $9.3 billion.

“In an extremely challenging global fiscal climate, every segment of the fixed-wing and rotorcraft market showed declines for the first half of 2016,” GAMA President and CEO Pete Bunce said. “As we saw at AirVenture last week, general aviation manufacturers are working hard to regain momentum by delivering innovative new products and technologies that enhance safety and provide substantial improvement in capability.”

“Unless something changes here in the last half [of 2016], we could be at least be even with last year, or maybe a little bit behind,” said industry analyst Brian Foley, president of New Jersey-based Brian Foley Associates. “Our hope as forecasters is that we see some momentum in this upswing, principally driven by the U.S. and how well its economy is doing right now, but from what we heard from the manufacturers so far, just to get to where we were last year is good news.”

Bombardier was 19 aircraft off the pace set in the first six months of 2015, handing over less than half of the midsize Learjet 70/75s than it did for the first half of last year and 11 fewer of its long-range, large-cabin Global 5000/6000s. The Canadian airframer said it remains on target for its planned 150 deliveries for the year.

Gulfstream reported a more than 16-percent decrease in deliveries year-over-year. Most of this decline was in its large cabin segment, which saw 46 aircraft handed over in the first six months of the 2016, compared to the 58 it delivered over the same timeframe in 2015.

Dassault, which continues its policy of no longer specifying totals for individual models handed over three fewer aircraft year-over-year, a decline of nearly 17 percent. At the end of July, the French manufacturer downgraded its 2016 delivery forecast from 60 Falcon aircraft to 50.

On the plus side of the ledger, Cessna saw a better-than 14 percent boost in the first half of the year over last year’s totals delivering 10 more aircraft. The Textron group subsidiary handed over 16 of its new Citation Latitudes, which received certification last June, as well as four more Citation XLS+ than it did in the first half of 2015.

Embraer likewise noted a rise in deliveries from the first half of last year, with increases in its totals of Phenom 100s, Legacy 500s, and Legacy 600/650s, good for a nearly 9 percent improvement over its deliveries a year ago. Yet, despite the increase, the Brazilian airframer now expects to ship between 70 and 80 light jets by the end of 2016, compared with its previous projection of between 75 and 85, and some 35 to 45 large jets, compared with its earlier estimates of between 40 and 50.

During the first six months of this year, One Aviation tacked on one more Eclipse 550 light jet to its total from last year. In the bizliner class, Airbus had no ACJ deliveries in the first half of the year, while Boeing handed over just one BBJ. Embraer, which delivered one Lineage 1000 in the first six months of 2015, saw none in the same period this year.

“What’s really kept the market where it is today and can hopefully carry it through to the end, will be the small and medium cabins,” noted Foley. “They are kind of carrying the torch right now, they are the stronger players, but I think we’ll see continued weakness in the big-cabin market.”

Turboprops Flat

The pressurized turboprop segment, while still negative, fared better, at just one less aircraft delivery year-over-year. Swiss airframer Pilatus boosted its production of its single engine PC-12 from 18 aircraft to 38 from a year ago, while Piper decreased deliveries of its own turboprop single by half as it transitioned from the Meridian to the M500.

Likewise, French airframer Daher also saw a drop off in deliveries as it added the TBM 930, while keeping the TBM 900. Textron subsidiary Beechcraft experienced a nearly 11-percent decrease, handing over four fewer King Air 250s and two fewer King Air 350s year-over-year. Fellow multi-engine turboprop manufacturer Piaggio delivered one Avanti Evo, and the future of the aircraft remains in question after the manufacturer issued a press release in late July stating it would henceforth direct its focus to military programs.

Rotorcraft Down

For the turbine rotorcraft market, still reeling from the downturn in petroleum prices and its subsequent effect on helicopter order books, the first half results were even bleaker. Sikorsky saw its year-over-year deliveries plummet by 78 percent, moving from 23 units in the first half of 2015 to just five for the first six months of this year. Meanwhile, Robinson, the world’s most prolific helicopter manufacturer, had deliveries of its R66 fall from 64 to 25 year-over-year, a 61-percent decline.

Textron subsidiary Bell had a more than 30-percent decrease led by its 407 series, which was down from 45 deliveries of the single-engine helicopter in the first half of 2015 to 29 in the same period this year.

Deliveries for Leonardo Helicopters (the recently renamed AgustaWestland) were down by one unit year-over year, as the company handed over just one of its medium-twin AW189s in the first half of the year versus six in the first half of 2015.

Airbus Helicopters changed its reporting practices to include military versions of its helicopters along with the civilian versions. In the first half of 2015, military helicopters (excluding the Tiger attack helicopter) accounted for 21 rotorcraft, compared with 112 commercial helicopters. This year combined (and once again excluding the Tiger), the European manufacturer delivered a total of 145 helicopters, giving it on aggregate, 12 fewer deliveries.

Enstrom was the lone rotorcraft maker on the plus side, delivering four more of its single engine 480B model year-over-year.

Overall, the helicopter segment saw a more-than 32 percent decrease in billings between the first half of 2015 and the first half of 2016.

“Unfortunately, the U.S. Congress has not done its part to support aircraft manufacturers or maintenance, repair and overhaul companies through its collective failure to include reforms of the outdated and overly prescriptive certification processes in the recently passed FAA extension,” noted Bunce. “We hope to see greater commitment by policymakers around the globe to give manufacturers the regulatory environment they need to succeed and allow our industry to continue to move forward.”

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