General Aviation Aircraft Shipments Bounce Back in 2021

 - February 23, 2022, 1:01 PM

Business and general aviation fixed-wing shipments began a recovery across the board last year, reaching a total of 2,630 units worth $25.2 billion, according to the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA). Releasing the global shipment totals during its annual State of the Industry press conference in Washington, D.C. today. GAMA reported business jet, turboprop, and piston/electric deliveries for 2021 were up 222 units from the 2,408 in 2020. As a result, billings for these aircraft rebounded to $21.6 billion last year, compared with $20 billion in 2020.

In addition, helicopter shipments are up significantly year-over-year, even without Leonardo yet reporting year-end totals (Leonardo typically reports its results in March). Helicopter shipments had leaped by 25.3 percent, to 826 aircraft, and billings by 28 percent, to $3.7 billion, in 2021, the association reported.

The totals, GAMA president and CEO Pete Bunce noted, are “converging on figures that were seen before the outset of the pandemic.”

Business jet makers handed over 710 aircraft last year, marking a 10.2 percent jump from the 644 delivered in 2020 when the pandemic had initially halted activity and then dampened sales. However, while still ongoing, the pandemic had a different effect last year, pushing new buyers into the industry and helping to propel sales. Most of the business jet OEMs reported increases in 2021, with the exception of Gulfstream and Dassault, and nearly all that provided book-to-bill details saw yearly increases that were well above 1:1, with some closer to 2:1, pushing up backlogs.

Turboprop deliveries, meanwhile, reached 527 units in total, a 19 percent jump from a year earlier when 443 aircraft were delivered.  

Light aircraft edged up from 1,321 units to 1,393. For the first time, GAMA reported this category as piston and electric, reflecting the entrance of all-electric aircraft such as the Pipistrel Virus SW 128 Velis Electro. Forty-eight of those aircraft were shipped last year.

“The strength and the tenacity of the general aviation industry have provided a strong foundation for the industry to rebound from pandemic-related setbacks with a powerful showing in 2021,” Bunce said, adding this bounce occurred in the face of workforce and supply chain challenges that are still ongoing. “Despite this adversity, there is robust interest and excitement in our industry as we continue to further our advancements in innovation, technology, and environmental sustainability.”