The general aviation industry saw mixed results in the first half of 2018 with overall deliveries up but billings down. Business jet deliveries were flat through the second quarter of the year, while turboprops saw a nearly 10 percent increase in the same span and piston airplane deliveries rose by 6.4 percent over the previous year, contributing to an overall 5.3 percent bump in airplane deliveries, according to second quarter industry delivery statistics released by the General Aviation Manufacturers Association.
Airframers handed over 296 private jets during the first half of the year, the same total as a year ago. Textron led the pack, delivering 84 Citation jets, an increase of three aircraft over its 2017 1H total, despite the absence of the Citation Mustang, seven of which were delivered in the first half of 2017, its last year of production. The airframer delivered six more CJ3+s year-over-year, along with three additional CJ4s and two XLS+s.
Bombardier remained static with 65 deliveries in the first half of each year, while Gulfstream saw a 13 percent decline year-over-year, handing over nine fewer large-cabin aircraft than it did a year ago for a total of 52 deliveries. The Savannah-based airframer expects a boost in the second half of the year as the G500 recently received its FAA and EASA type certificates.
Embraer likewise saw a decrease of more than 20 percent in its first-half numbers, recording 31 deliveries in the first half of this year compared with 37 in the same period a year ago. The Brazilian airframer saw decreases across its entire product range with the exception of the Legacy 450, which exceeded its 2017 1H total by one unit.
Dassault Aviation was two aircraft off its 2017 pace.
Honda Aircraft saw its ramp up on the HondaJet slow. While the manufacturer handed over 24 of the light jets in the first half of 2017, on its way to a total of 43 deliveries for the year, it delivered just 17 through the first six months of 2018. One Aviation, which handed over four of its six total 2017 Eclipse 550s in the first half of the year, did not deliver any of the very light jets through the first six months of 2018, as the New-Mexico OEM faced financial difficulties and the threatened loss of its manufacturing facility, while Swiss OEM Pilatus gave the segment a boost with the initial three deliveries of its PC-24 light jet in the first half of the year.
Turboprops and Rotorcraft
The turboprop category saw an overall increase of nearly 10 percent in deliveries year-over-year, reaching 260 for the first half compared with 237 in the same period the year before, and the high-end pressurized segment had even better improvement of more than 12 percent, rising to 119 aircraft handed over, compared to 106 through the first six months of 2017. Textron led the way, increasing deliveries of Beechcraft King Airs by nearly 30 percent, and handing over 10 additional of its top-of-the-line 350i/ER models year-over-year. Pilatus remained static with 31 PC-12 deliveries through the first half of 2018. Piper’s M600 deliveries remained unchanged at 15, but the Florida-based OEM doubled its M500 output from four to eight year over year. While Daher had one fewer TBM delivery this year, the emphasis between its models flip-flopped. In the first half of 2017 it handed over 9 TBM 910s and 14 TBM 930s, but so far in 2018, the numbers changed to thirteen 910s and nine 930s. Piaggio exceeded its first-half 2017 tally for the Avanti EVO by one unit this year.
Piston-powered aircraft deliveries increased by 6.4 percent year-over-year, from 468 to 498 from January through June of 2018.
On the rotorcraft side, total shipments rose by 6.7 percent year-over-year, with gains in both the turbine segment (2.1 percent) and the piston-powered segment (19.2 percent). Bell, buoyed by a ramp-up in the 505, saw its deliveries more than double year-over-year. The Textron subsidiary handed over five copies of the light single rotorcraft in the first six months of 2017, just after it received Transport Canada type certification; that number swelled to 59 in the first half of 2018.
Airbus Helicopters saw a drop in deliveries, among civilian and military-use civil models, from 175 in the first half of 2017 to 132 through the same period this year, handing over 16 fewer H145/H145Ms and nine fewer H130s. Leonardo noted a 9.6 percent decrease in deliveries year-over-year, with 12 fewer members of its AW109 family handed over in the first half of 2018, while Sikorsky delivered just one S-92 in the first six months of the year, versus a trio of S-76s in the same period last year. Though Robinson Helicopter’s deliveries were up by 14.6 percent over the first half of 2017, the California company handed over four fewer turbine-powered R66s in the first six months of this year.
Billings in both the airplane and rotorcraft sectors were down from the first half of 2017, reflecting a higher percentage of lower-cost aircraft deliveries.
“Though this quarter’s results are mixed, we are glad to see that demands for training aircraft are driving an increase in the piston and rotorcraft segments,” said GAMA president and CEO Pete Bunce. “The Boeing 2018 Pilot and Technician Outlook shows the demand for pilots, technicians and other aviation industry professionals is at an all-time high.”