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GAMA: Though 2012 Aircraft Shipments Mixed, Encouraging Signs Emerging

February 14, 2013

Strong demand for helicopters and agricultural aircraft drove a slight increase in total shipments of new general aviation (GA) aircraft in 2012, according to figures released Feb. 12 by the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA), with international deliveries increasingly outpacing shipments to United States-based customers.

Shipments of fixed-wing aircraft rose 0.6 percent last year to 2,133 deliveries, thanks to strong turboprop demand and the addition of agricultural aircraft to GAMA's sales data in 2012. Deliveries of turboprop airplanes totaled 580 in 2012, compared to 526 year before.

That growth was countered by generally flat levels in shipments of piston and turbine-powered airplanes. Shipments of business jets declined 3.4 percent, from 696 to 672 units, while 881 piston-engine aircraft were delivered, a decline of 1.9 percent over 2011.

Last year also marked the first time that GAMA tracked deliveries of rotorcraft, and those numbers offered a notable bright spot for the industry. A total of 328 helicopters were delivered in 2012, with shipments of piston-powered helicopters rising 22.4 percent, single-turbine helos increasing 23.3 percent, and shipments of multi-turbine helicopters rising 16.3 percent over 2012 figures.

Fixed-wing aircraft billings fell slightly compared to the previous year, to $18.87 billion, with the value of all 2012 helicopter shipments totaling $3.4 billion.

Despite some encouraging signs, GAMA President and CEO Pete Bunce said there remains much room for improvement. “The current economic challenges and changing market dynamics have broad implications for the industry,” he said. “That is why we have an aggressive agenda for 2013 that is aimed at increasing government effectiveness, advancing policies that strengthen general aviation, and raising general aviation safety levels worldwide.”

GAMA Chairman Brad Mottier also noted that future aircraft shipment forecasts may improve on the strength of new models now under development. “The [2012] numbers don't reflect the amount of development work in progress in general aviation,” he noted. “The general aviation segment is poised for resurgence in the next few years as these new technologies certify and enter the market.”

Rising demand for GA aircraft in Asia and other markets worldwide emphasizes the need for GAMA and its industry partners to take an expanded role on the international aviation community in 2013.

“The GAMA committees will focus on lowering the barriers in general aviation to enable advanced technologies to more easily enter service and help improve safety. GAMA will continue to expand the association throughout the general aviation industry as well as internationally," Mottier said.

View the complete GAMA 2012 Deliveries and Billings report.