This story is part of AIN's continuing coverage of the impact of the coronavirus on aviation.
The general aviation aircraft manufacturing industry saw serious impact by the global coronavirus crisis, according to first-quarter delivery numbers released today by the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA). All segments were affected, with total airplane billings down by 21.3 percent year-over-year. Business jet deliveries declined by more than 19 percent year-over-year, from 141 handed over in the first three months of 2019 to 114 during the same period this year.
Some manufacturers actually improved on their first-quarter 2019 totals. Bombardier was the only one of the big-five private jet manufacturers to post a positive quarter. While the Canadian manufacturer’s number of Challenger shipments remained static year over year, it delivered one more each among its Global and Learjet families. Cirrus upped its deliveries by nearly 29 percent, handing over four additional SF50 Vision Jets in the first three months of 2020, while Pilatus increased the output of its PC-24 light jet from five to seven in the first quarter.
At the other end of the spectrum, Textron saw its first-quarter deliveries nearly halve year over year, declining from 44 in first-quarter 2019 to 23 in the same period this year. Every model experienced a decline with the exception of the Sovereign+, which remained flat, and the Longitude, which had not yet begun deliveries by the first quarter last year.
Gulfstream saw its deliveries off by nearly a third from the first quarter of 2019. It handed over four fewer super-midsize G280s this year, and its large-cabin shipments decreased from 27 to 20.
Brazil’s Embraer delivered two fewer aircraft in the quarter, with no Phenom 100s handed over. The airframer saw its year-over-year totals bolstered by the arrival of its Praetors, handing over one Praetor 500 and three Praetor 600s in the first quarter.
Honda Aircraft reported no change, with seven deliveries in the first quarter of both years, while One Aviation remains mired in bankruptcy proceedings with no deliveries. Dassault reports its deliveries only at midyear and year-end.
In the bizliner category, Airbus delivered one ACJ320neo this year, compared with two in the first quarter last year, while Boeing had no Boeing Business Jet deliveries in either quarter.
Turboprops saw a plunge of nearly 42 percent in the first quarter. Textron’s deliveries fell by more than half, moving from 23 deliveries in its Beechcraft King Air family of turboprop twins to 11. Daher delivered four TBM 940s in the first three months of this year, compared with seven 910s and one 930 in the same period last year. While Piper handed over seven M500s in first-quarter 2019, it delivered three M600s through the first three months of this year. Pilatus had one less delivery of its PC-12 this year, and Piaggio had none in either quarter.
Turbine helicopter deliveries were off by 18.3 percent from the first three months of last year, while total rotorcraft billings slid by nearly 20 percent.
Airbus Helicopters, which no longer breaks down its deliveries by model, added two units to its 2019 first-quarter total, a tally which also now includes military aircraft. While Robinson saw its overall total decline from 66 helicopter deliveries in the first quarter of 2019 to 50 in the same quarter this year, the Torrance, California-based manufacturer increased the output of its R66 turbine from 12 to 15.
Textron subsidiary Bell had its deliveries halved year-over-year, decreasing from 30 to 15. The number of deliveries on its light-single 505 slid from 18 to 7, even as it more than doubled the number of light-twin 429s it handed over in the quarter to five.
Italian OEM Leonardo, which also no longer distinguishes between its civil and military deliveries, experienced a more than 47 percent decline from its first-quarter 2019 numbers, with drop-offs in its AW139 and AW169 medium-twins.
Sikorsky did not log any deliveries in either quarter.
“While the year started off strong, the health and safety restrictions put in place to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic began to significantly impact global operations, supply chains, and deliveries towards the end of the first quarter,” explained GAMA president and CEO Pete Bunce. “Companies rapidly implemented a wide range of health protocols in accordance with local, regional, and national level guidance to keep production, maintenance, and training activity churning.” He added that many companies supplemented those activities with the production and transport of personal protection equipment urgently needed by healthcare workers and communities.
“These actions serve as a testament to the adaptability and resilience of our industry’s incredible workforce, who will play such a pivotal role in our recovery process,” concluded Bunce.