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Wichita planemakers report lower deliveries for 2012

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2013, at 10:06 a.m.
  • Updated Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2013, at 9:18 a.m.

Aviation deliveries

Business jet672696763
Total 2,1332,1202,020
Total billings$18.9 billion$19 billion$19.72 billion

* 2010 numbers do not include agricultural turboprops included in 2011 and 2012 numbers

Correction: In an earlier version, figures in this story for helicopter deliveries were incorrect. They have been corrected.

General aviation manufacturers delivered 2,133 airplanes last year, up from 2011 levels, although the number of business jet shipments fell.

Wichita planemakers Bombardier Learjet, Cessna Aircraft and Hawker Beechcraft all recorded lower deliveries.

Together, the Wichita companies delivered 763 airplanes, down 18 percent from 980 in 2011.

Planemakers worldwide delivered 580 turboprops, up dramatically from 361 in the previous year. That’s because the 2012 figures include turboprops used for agricultural purposes that weren’t in the 2011 figures. When adjusted, turboprops delivered in 2011 totaled 526.

Planemakers also delivered 881 piston airplanes, down slightly from 898 in 2011, and 672 business jets, down from 696 the previous year.

Billings for 2012 totaled $18.9 billion, down slightly from $19 billion in the previous year.

The figures were released Tuesday by the General Aviation Manufacturers Association, an industry trade group.

For the first time, GAMA released shipments of helicopters.

Helicopter manufacturers delivered 1,044 aircraft last year, compared to 859 helicopters in 2011, it said.

General aviation shipments results were mixed, but the numbers don’t reflect the amount of development work in progress by the manufacturers, Brad Mottier, GAMA chairman, said at a state of the industry conference Tuesday.

“We’re spending billions of dollars in creating new, more efficient and safer products, Mottier said.

When the products are certified and enter the market in the in the next few years, shipment numbers will increase substantially, he said at the conference, which was webcast.

General aviation is a significant engine for growth, he said.

Last year’s results are much like those of 2011, GAMA president Pete Bunce said in an interview.

“I think you can draw from (the figures) the same conclusion that we talked about last year: The overall world economy has a major impact on the health of our recovery,” Bunce said. “I don’t think this is the new norm; I think that the industry will come back.”

The health of economies around the world drive demand.

“We’ve had a decent economy in the Asia-Pacific region, but that’s been offset by the poor economy in Europe and in the U.S.,” Bunce said. “We’re at the mercy with what happens with the U.S. and European economies.”

Half of the market for general aviation airplanes is in the U.S.

“North America is the powerhouse,” he said. But the “rest of the world is waking up to general aviation. That’s a good thing.”

As a trade group, GAMA must work to persuade regulators to consolidate and streamline regulatory requirements and promote general aviation, Mottier said.

Regulations around the world must be standardized, he said, saying they are among the barriers that hinder advanced technologies from being developed and integrated into the industry.

The good news is that Europe is considering how to improve how aviation is regulated, and the European Commission has stopped some bad regulation from taking hold, according to Bunce.

“That really could be good,” he said.

There is growth potential in China, and it’s imperative that the groundwork begin for cooperation, he said. And the industry must work in the U.S. to improve airspace and airport access for general aviation.

Current certification regulations are costly and slow down the process, Mottier said.

Deliveries from companies with Wichita operations included:

• Bombardier Learjet, which delivered 39 Wichita assembled airplanes, including 24 Learjet 40XR and 45 XRs, and 15 Learjet 60XRs during the year. That’s down from 43 Learjets delivered in 2011.

• Cessna, which delivered 571 planes, including 282 piston airplanes, one Corvalis 350, 107 Caravans and 181 business jets in 2012.

Shipments were down from 689 planes in 2011, although business jet deliveries were flat with 183 jets delivered last year.

The biggest drop came in its single-engine piston products.

In 2012, Cessna delivered 282 piston planes, down 32 percent from 412 the prior year.

• Hawker Beechcraft, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on May 3, delivered 153 planes in 2012, including 32 business jets.

That’s down 23 percent from 198 planes, including 52 business jets, delivered in 2011.

The company delivered nine business jets in the fourth quarter, including two Hawker 900XPs and seven Hawker 4000s.

Hawker Beechcraft announced last year that it will exit the business jet business when it emerges from bankruptcy, a step expected later this month.

The smaller, restructured company, to be called Beechcraft Corp., will concentrate on its Baron, Bonanza and King Air products, and its military and after-market business.

The impact of Hawker Beechcraft’s departure from the business jet market remains to be seen, Bunce said.

At the same time, other business jet manufacturers are working on a number of new business jet development programs.

Pilatus is expected to make some product announcements.

And Honda’s $4.5 million entry-level twinjet called the HondaJet is expected to attain certification his year.

“There’s so many things happening in jets,” Bunce said.

The challenge for the industry is to stay engaged in issues around the world, he said, saying that there’s never been a more important time to do so.

Reach Molly McMillin at 316-269-6708 or mmcmillin@wichitaeagle.com.

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