General aviation billings topped $ 15 billion for the first nine months of the year, a 14 percent increase driven by strong business jet deliveries, the General Aviation Manufacturers Association reported last week. The business jet gains offset a softening piston aircraft market.
GA plane makers shipped 2,909 aircraft in the first three quarters of the year, up just slightly from the 2,859 GA units shipped during the first three quarters of 2006, GAMA said. The relatively flat growth in deliveries came despite a 20.9 percent increase in business jet deliveries in 2007. Business jet manufacturers delivered 759 aircraft in the first three quarters of the year, compared with 628 business jets delivered in the same period of 2006. The jump in billings in part reflects increasing deliveries of a number of high-end models - such as Airbus Corporate Jets and Gulfstream business jets. Airbus shipped 10 corporate variants of its airliners during the first three quarters and Gulfstream deliveries increased by 20 aircraft to 103.
The turboprop market also improved in the first three quarters of the year. GA manufacturers shipped 293 turboprops in the first nine months of 2007, up 14.5 percent from the 256 units shipped in the same period in 2006. Deliveries increased for all three models of Beechcraft King Air twin turboprops as well as for the Cessna, Socata and Pilatus single-turboprop models. But piston aircraft deliveries dropped in the first nine months to 1,857, compared with 1,975 piston aircraft delivered in the first three quarters of 2006. Deliveries for all of Cessna´s single-engine line declined in 2007, and Cirrus deliveries dropped from 529 in the first three quarters of 2006 to 461 this year.
"This is the third consecutive quarter where growth in the piston market has wavered," said GAMA President and CEO Pete Bunce. "The good news is that our manufacturers in this segment have not reported a noticeable decline in interest in the piston market." Bunce added that GA manufacturers remain encouraged that demand overall has been healthy, particularly for business jets and turboprops outside the U.S. "We expect shipments to continue on a strong, upward trend in the months ahead," he said. See BA´s Business/Personal/Regional Aircraft Third Quarter Unit Shipment chart below.