Covid Crisis Spurs $2B Plunge in 1H20 Genav Billings

 - September 14, 2020, 3:00 PM
Deliveries were down across all segments of business and general aviation aircraft in the first half, leading to a 20 percent drop in billings. Honda Aircraft delivered 47 percent fewer HondaJets (pictured here) in the period. But increases in flight operations and new customers are providing hope. (Photo: Honda Aircraft)

This story is part of AIN's continuing coverage of the impact of the coronavirus on aviation.


All sectors of general aviation experienced a downturn in the first half of 2020, according to statistics released today by the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA). For the industry facing hurdles from the Covid-19 crisis, total billings were off by more than 20 percent, a full $2 billion less than the same span a year ago.

“It should come as no surprise to anyone that the Covid-19 pandemic severely impacted the general aviation industry and its global operations in the second quarter,” said GAMA president and CEO Pete Bunce, citing disruptions in the global aerospace supply chain due to swiftly changing restrictions from national, state, and local governments on both sides of the Atlantic. “With facilities conducting operations in a ‘new normal’ work environment, what has been very encouraging is that the supply chain has begun to stabilize and robust screening procedures and innovative work station Covid-19 mitigation protocols have resulted in very few virus transmission incidents.”

Business jet deliveries for the half were down by 26.7 percent year-over-year, declining from 333 in the first six months of 2019 to 244 in the same period this year. Among the major business jet manufacturers, Cessna saw the most erosion with Citation deliveries off by nearly 49 percent during the first six months year-over-year. The super-midsize Longitude, the new flagship of the Citation fleet, entered service last October, and while the Wichita-based OEM delivered nine in the first half of 2020, that boost was offset by deliveries of 10 fewer midsize Latitudes than it logged in the first half of 2019. The CJ3+ also experienced a strong decline with deliveries declining from 17 in the first six months of 2019 to five in the same period this year.

Honda Aircraft’s deliveries were also off by 47 percent, handing over nine HondaJets in the first half of 2020, compared with 17 the year previously.

Embraer posted a 42 percent decrease in year-over-year deliveries, led by a decline in deliveries of its Phenom 300. The Brazilian company, which handed over 21 of the popular light jets during the first half of 2019, saw that number nearly halved despite the addition of the enhanced 300E. After delivering one Praetor 600 super-midsize in 1H 2019, the manufacturer handed over five during the same period this year,  although it also delivered five of the Praetor 600’s predecessor, the Legacy 500, during 1H2019.

Tallying one additional delivery of its light Learjet 70/75/Liberty this year than it did in the first half of 2019, Bombardier Aviation had an overall 22 percent downturn through the first half of the year, handing over 13 fewer aircraft than it did a year ago. Deliveries of the Challenger family were off by eight units, and its ultra-long-range Global series by six.

Savannah, Georgia-based Gulfstream saw its first-half delivery total off by 10 units from the first half of 2019, handing over six less super-mid 280s and four fewer large cabin twinjets.

Dassault Falcon, which only reports its deliveries at mid-year and yearend, does not break down its totals by aircraft model or type. As such, the French airframer at 16 units saw only one less aircraft delivery this year than it did in the first half of 2019.

Both Pilatus, with its PC-24, and Cirrus, with its SF50 Vision Jet, remained static with 16 deliveries for the former and 31 for the latter in the first half of both years.

In the bizliner category, Airbus had two deliveries in the first half of both years, consisting of a pair of ACJ320neos in the first half of 2019, and an ACJ320neo and an ACJ350XWB this year. Boeing had no BBJ deliveries in the first half of either year.

Turboprops experienced even worse erosion that bizjets, with 2020 deliveries dropping to 152 after airframers handed over 231 in the first half of last year, for a deficit of 34.2 percent. High-end pressurized models fared slightly better, down by 30.4 percent, with 73 deliveries in the first half of the year, as opposed to 105 in the previous year. Textron Aviation had a 49 percent decline in Beechcraft King Air deliveries, year-over-year, handing over 20 of the turboprop twins during the first six months of 2020, compared with 39 in the same period of 2019.

Pilatus delivered two fewer PC-12s in the first half of this year than it did through June of 2019, while Daher handed over six less of its TBM series single-engines.

Piper Aircraft, which delivered 13 M500s and just one M600 in the first half of 2019, saw those numbers reversed this year, handing over 11 M600s and no M500s. Piaggio delivered no Avanti twin pushers in the first six months of this year after handing over two last year.

While the rotorcraft market, in general, was off by nearly 40 percent, in the turbine-powered segment, the total deliveries were off by 37 percent.

Italian manufacturer Leonardo encountered the most severe drop-off, as its deliveries declined by nearly 53 percent. The greatest attrition came from the medium-twin AW169, which went from 15 deliveries in the first half of 2019, to three January-through-June of this year.

Through the first six months of 2020, Bell saw its deliveries fall by nearly half, handing over 42 aircraft as compared with 83 through the same period in 2019. Its largest decline was in the 505 light single, which had 48 deliveries in the first half of last year, but only 17 through the second quarter of this year.

Airbus Helicopters, which lumps its military and civil deliveries together in its accounting, had a 31 percent decline year-over-year, the largest deficit coming in its light H125/H130 class. Though the OEM had shipped 80 in the first two quarters of 2019, that number fell to 45 in the first half of this year.

Torrance, Calif.-based Robinson Helicopter held its own with its single-turbine R66, seeing only two fewer deliveries in the front end of 2020 than it did over the same six months last year.

Enstrom, which had no turbine helicopter deliveries in the first half of 2019, handed over one of its 480B-G models during the first six months of this year, while Sikorsky shipped an S-92 in the first half of 2020 after experiencing no helicopter deliveries during the same period last year.

“While continued mandated and voluntary restrictions on international business travel are producing stiff headwinds, flight activity for business aviation has appeared to return to around 85 percent of pre-pandemic levels in U.S. domestic airspace, while piston, turboprop, and rotorcraft flight activity has actually increased,” added Bunce. “Many travelers have also opted to explore the utility of general and business aviation for the first time, which we hope will translate into future customers for the incredible and versatile products and services our industry has to offer.”