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Jet sales climb, piston aircraft steady

The quarterly totals released November 18 by the association that represents most of the world’s GA aircraft manufacturers show a slight slip in the total number of piston airplanes delivered through September 30 (895), compared to the first nine months of 2020 (901). Turboprop deliveries increased from 254 to 357 aircraft (40.6 percent) through the third quarter, and business jet deliveries also picked up the pace, from 378 aircraft during the first three quarters of 2020 to 438 delivered during the first three quarters of this year.

This is an inversion of the story of 2020, when piston airplane deliveries increased even after the coronavirus pandemic sent other segments tumbling. This year’s uptick in jet deliveries is driven largely by Bombardier notching 12 more aircraft delivered (82, up from 70 in the first three quarters of 2020) during the period, with a 31-percent increase in reported revenue (billing), to just over $4 billion. Rival Gulfstream Aerospace Corp. retained its lead in this segment despite slippage in both shipments and billing. The 80 aircraft and $4.1 billion in billing reported for the first three quarters of 2021 were down by 8 percent and 9 percent, respectively. Textron Aviation, which produces aircraft in all of these fixed-wing segments, benefited from an uptick at the top of the Citation jet line that increased billing by 60 percent through the third quarter, with nearly the same number of aircraft delivered.

“The general aviation manufacturing industry has shown perseverance with continued growth, all while still navigating pandemic-related setbacks, including ongoing supply chain and workforce challenges,” said GAMA President and CEO Pete Bunce, in the news release. “Despite the constraints imposed by shortages of parts and people, our manufacturers and maintenance providers are working hard to meet the growing demand for both new and used aircraft, which we obviously welcome and embrace. Our members are also leading the way in new innovations and technologies, which will shape the future of aviation. The first nine months of 2021 have shown great progress and we look forward to seeing how the year closes out.”

Piston airplane market leader Cirrus Aircraft bucked the slightly downward piston airplane trend with a 23-percent overall increase in aircraft delivered through the first nine months of the year (339, up from 276), and a 19-percent increase in reported billing. Neither increase was driven by the SF50 Vision Jet, the lone turbine aircraft that Cirrus produces: Vision Jet deliveries were nearly identical, with 47 in the first three quarters of 2020, and 46 between January 1 and September 30.

Piper Aircraft Inc. reported an 11-percent decline in airframes delivered, down from 158 aircraft through the third quarter of 2020 to 140 during the same period this year. Piper’s reported billing increased nearly 11 percent, to $156.4 million.

Italian airframer Tecnam Aircraft delivered 148 aircraft this year through September 30, a 17-percent increase from the 127 delivered during the same period in 2020, while Tecnam’s reported billing increased nearly 14 percent, to $66.6 million.

In the ever-volatile helicopter market, GAMA noted a 23.5-percent increase in turbine helicopter deliveries through the third quarter this year, to 410 aircraft, compared to the same period in 2020. Piston helicopter deliveries also increased during this period, up 24.8 percent to 131 piston helicopters delivered through the third quarter. Total helicopter billing was up 37.3 percent to $2.4 billion, GAMA reported.

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