Wichita planemakers report lower deliveries in 2012

02/12/2013 10:04 AM

02/12/2013 6:03 PM

Editor's note: Figures in this story for 2011 have been revised to reflect adjustments made by the General Aviation Manufacturers Association when it released its report Tuesday.

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 from 526 in the previous year. They also delivered 881 piston airplanes, down slightly from 898 in 2011, and 672 business jets, down from 696.

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

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

“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.”

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

“That really could be good,” he said.

Bombardier Learjet 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 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.

It’s important to have regulations and policies in place in China and the Asia Pacific to stimulate demand in those growing regions of the world.

In India, a number of “onerous regulations” are coming to fruition in general aviation “that we need to pay attention to and try to educate lawmakers over there.”

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