General aviation shipments dip

General aviation shipments and billings dropped slightly in the second quarter this year, the General Aviation Manufactures Association reported Wednesday.

Shipments of general aviation airplanes totaled 547, down from 580 units during the same time a year ago, GAMA said.

Billings, meanwhile, totaled $4.77 billion in the quarter, down from $5.06 billion in the second quarter of 2009.

The economic downturn is lasting a lot longer than previous ones, said Teal Group aerospace analyst Richard Aboulafia. "And it's going to take time to dig out from this."

Corporate profits, long an indictor of business jet sales and deliveries, have come back.

"It's just that people were sitting on the cash," Aboulafia said. "It might take longer for things to get going because we don't know whether corporations will continue to be tight with their cash."

And people are going to take longer to get over the "economic trauma and feel good that we're in the clear," he said.

Aboulafia predicts aircraft deliveries will begin to come back in 2012. But it will take until 2016 or 2017 before the business jet market reaches its peak of 2008.

Shipments of piston-powered planes grew slightly in the second quarter to 259, compared with 255 shipped a year ago.

Turboprop shipments totaled 97 in the quarter, down from 102 in the same period last year, while business jet deliveries totaled 191 units, down from 223 a year ago.

Bombardier Aerospace delivered eight Learjet business jets from Wichita, compared with 10 in the same quarter a year ago.

Cessna Aircraft delivered 164 airplanes during the second quarter, down from 186 a year ago.

Hawker Beechcraft delivered 51 aircraft in the quarter, compared with 62 a year ago. Hawker Beechcraft also delivered 25 planes for military use in the quarter.

"As general aviation manufacturers continue looking towards recovery from the economic downturn, it remains critical that pro-growth, pro-manufacturing policies like bonus depreciation that promote aircraft purchases and stimulate job creation be put in place," Pete Bunce, GAMA president and CEO, said in a release. "As the global economic recovery picks up steam, markets outside of North America continue to hold promise for renewed growth in our industry."