GAMA: Airplane shipments, billings down across the board

The Cessna 172 assembly line at Textron Aviation’s Independence plant in 2013.
The Cessna 172 assembly line at Textron Aviation’s Independence plant in 2013. File photo

Shipments and billings for general aviation aircraft, turboprops and business jets were down in the first half of 2016.

The General Aviation Manufacturers Association said Friday that total aircraft shipments were down 4.5 percent and billings dropped 11 percent compared with the first half of 2015.

GAMA president and CEO Pete Bunce said in a news release that the report showed the effects of “a challenging global climate.”

None of the fixed-wing aircraft segments – piston and turboprop airplanes and business jets – saw declines greater than 5 percent, according to the report. Piston airplanes were down 4.5 percent to 443 units, while turboprops were down 4.9 percent to 235 units. Business jets had the smallest decline at 4.3 percent, down to 292 from 305 in the same period last year.

Total airplane billings for the period were $9.3 billion, compared with $10.4 billion in the first half of 2015.

First-half shipments for Wichita’s business jet manufacturers Bombardier and Textron Aviation were split.

Bombardier shipped nine fewer jets in the first half of 2016 compared with the same period last year — including nine Learjet 70/75s.

But Textron Aviation shipped 10 more Cessna Citation jets between the two periods: 79 in the first half of 2016 compared with 69 in the first half of 2015.

Including its Cessna and Beechcraft piston aircraft and Caravan and King Air turboprops, Textron Aviation’s shipments were down 47 aircraft: 244 in the first half of 2016 compared with 291 in the first six months of 2015, including 10 fewer Cessna Caravan and three fewer King Air turboprops.

“I was a little surprised by the drop in turbos and pistons,” Richard Aboulafia, vice president of analysis for the Teal Group, said of the industry-wide numbers. “It implies that this is a fairly broad decline.”

As for the overall lower shipments of business jets, he thinks that’s largely a decline in the large-cabin, long-range business jet segment that is mostly affected by “oil-producing countries and emerging markets that take a lot of the high-end business jets,” Aboulafia said.

“As I look at it it’s pretty clear what’s down is the bigger stuff, but the smaller stuff isn’t doing great, either,” he added.

What will be more telling about the health of the general aviation and business jet markets is when the year-end numbers come in. The second half of the year is traditionally stronger in aircraft deliveries, particularly the fourth quarter.

Will it be so this year?

“Maybe,” Aboulafia said. “They’ve got some making up to do.”

Jerry Siebenmark: 316-268-6576, @jsiebenmark