Worldwide business and general aviation avionics sales dropped 26 percent in 2020, to $2.22 billion, the Aircraft Electronics Association reported on Tuesday. That total was down almost $800 million from the 2019 record total of more than $3 billion. It also marked the lowest year-end tally during the nine years that AEA has reported avionics results.
Sales in the fourth quarter of alone were down 28.1 percent year-over-over year, to $563.7 million. However, that marked an improvement quarter-over-quarter as avionics sales slowly crept up from the second quarter’s $490.7 million. The third quarter was up 5.9 percent from the second quarter, to $519.7 million, and the fourth quarter marked an 8.5 percent improvement from there.
Retrofit sales helped drive those improvements, jumping 10.8 percent quarter-over-quarter in the third quarter and then 15.3 percent quarter-over-quarter in the fourth quarter.
Fourth-quarter retrofit sales reached $342 million, just slightly below the $345.6 million reported in the first quarter of 2020. Retrofit sales accounted for 60.7 percent of all sales in the fourth quarter and 55.9 percent for the year.
North America continued to dominate the business and general aviation avionics market, accounting for 73.8 percent of sales during the year.
The latter half of 2020 provided a “softer landing” for sales, sliding to the equivalent of those that occurred in the 2016 to 2017 timeframe, noted AEA president and CEO Mike Adamson. "Despite the health crisis and its economic impact, I am encouraged that industry experienced steady growth during the last half of the year,” he said.
“Although 2020 year-end sales are significantly down from last year's all-time high, we see positive signs in the retrofit market, which means our members are keeping busy with avionics upgrades. We are hopeful the combination of innovative new products, the resilience of consumers who continue to focus on upgrades, and an uptick in aircraft production can fuel more sales growth in 2021.”