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GAMA’s Year End Aircraft Sales Numbers Show Continued Decline

Piper M600 aircraft - GAMA reveals 2016 Aircraft Shipment and Billing Numbers
Piper M600 Aircraft

The year end 2016 aircraft shipment and billing numbers showed a 3.9% drop globally.

The General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) has released their year-end 2016 aircraft billing and shipment numbers, and they continue to show an overall decrease. At their “Annual Industry Review” press conference, GAMA Chairman (and Piper Aircraft CEO) Simon Caldecott revealed that:

  • Worldwide, airplane shipments fell 3.9% globally, from 2,331 airplanes shipped in 2015 to 2,241 in 2016, while airplane billings dropped 14.1% from $24.1 billion in 2015 to $20.7 billion in 2015.
  • Worldwide, rotorcraft shipments fell 16.9% from 1,036 rotorcraft in 2015 to 861 units in 2016, while rotorcraft billings dipped 23.4% from $4.7 billion to 2016 to $3.6 billion in 2016.

In particular, business jet shipments took a solid hit, with only 661 aircraft delivered (compared to 718 units in 2015), the lowest total number since 2004. Piston aircraft declined 4.9% from 1,056 units in 2015 to 1,004 in 2016, while piston helicopter shipments dipped 19.7%, from 279 delivered in 2015 to 224 in 2016, and turbine helicopters dropped 15.9% from 757 delivered in 2015, to 637 in 2016. Turboprop airplane shipments did provide a bright spot amidst all the declining numbers, showing an increased of 576 delivered in 2016, versus 557 in 2015, a 3.4% increase.

GAMA President and CEO Pete Bunce called the numbers disappointing overall but added that they were optimistic as the group looked forward to 2017 and beyond in large part due to the number of companies in the aviation industry that were investing in research and development programs, and working toward bringing innovative new products to market.

Bunce also said that GAMA was actively working to create a regulatory environment that would be more “efficient and effective for manufacturers to offer new products and technologies to their customers, enhancing safety, efficiency, connectivity, and comfort. We are encouraged by the completion of the Part 23 rule by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration and look forward to similar actions in Europe, as well as adaptation of these rule-making principles to rotorcraft and transport category airplanes.” Bunce concluded that in order to foster and sustain the growth, however, that policymakers and regulators would need to continue working closely with the industry to streamline and improve regulatory processes.

The 2016 Aircraft Shipment and Billing Numbers

Piston Airplanes*
Business Jets
Total Shipments 2,331
Total Billings $24.1B $20.7B -14.1%


Piston Helicopters
Total Shipments 1,036
Total Billings $4.7B $3.6B -23.0%

* AVIC General was added to the shipment report in 2016 for piston and turboprop airplanes. For the purpose of comparison with 2015, the AVIC General data is not included.

** Leonardo Helicopters Q4 data was not available at the time of publication. Leonardo Helicopters will release year-end results in March 2017, at which point GAMA will update the online 2016 report. For the purpose of comparison, GAMA excluded 2015 Q4 data for Leonardo as well.

For those interested in reading the full report, you can find it here.

So Why the Decline in 2016 Aircraft Shipment and Billing Numbers?

Speaking to The Witchita Eagle, Bunce said that “The only thing I guess I was surprised at, or disappointed might be a better word, was the used side of the aircraft market has not corrected itself. One of the reasons we are having the challenges we are having right now is we need to see stability in the used aircraft market for us to be healthy. When you have a lot of those aircraft out there, you’re going to have a tough time selling new aircraft.

Bunce said the general aviation shipments and billing, in particular, were most likely hardest hit by the used aircraft market. He added that used pricing has ebbed and flowed and that while it has been better in certain areas, like large cabin, long range aircraft, that in total, stability has been lacking. “It’s not the total problem … but it is a significant contributor.” According to Bunce, another factor might be that potential buyers of new aircraft are also waiting for the rollout of new models potentially set for later in the year, such as Cessna’s new Citation Longitude.

And What About the Individual Manufacturers?

Though the numbers as a whole are disappointing, some manufacturers are reporting better news. Piper Aircraft, for example, revealed that they had a 26.7% increase (nearly $32 million) in aircraft billings for 2016, which they attribute to the certification and delivery of the Piper M600 and a 65% year over year increase for the Piper Archer. In addition, sales of all Piper trainers showed .8% growth in 2016. According to the company, more than 80% of the aircraft they delivered were in the North American market, with the majority of the remaining aircraft being shipped to countries withing the Pacific Rim.

Caldecott said that as the company looks toward 2017, the company is “excited about the recent trainer contracts that we have been awarded, which has helped develop a backlog of orders.  Additionally working in concert with our full-service Dealers we look to continue to grow M-class demand and sales.”

Textron Aviation is also finding some success, with Cessna Citation Latitude sales staying strong since the aircraft was introduced in August 2015. The company delivered 42 Latitudes in 2016, which according to Textron Aviation makes it the most delivered midsize jet worldwide for 2016.

Finally, Cirrus Aircraft is reporting that new customer deliveries of their SR aircraft line reached a multi-year high, with 317 aircraft being delivered in 2016. This makes the third consecutive year the company has shipped more than 300 aircraft, and they’ve enjoyed almost 20% growth since 2009. 2016 also saw the company make the first three customer deliveries for their single-engine personal jet, the Cirrus Vision.

Featured Image: M600, courtesy of Piper Aircraft

Piper J-3 Cub: The World’s Most Iconic Airplane

Piper J3 Cub - Top 10 Articles of 2014There are ‘Top 10’ style, or ‘Best of’ lists for just about everything. And if you look around at the lists in a given category, such asBest Movies Ever‘, ‘World’s Craziest Foods‘ or ‘Most Dangerous Cities in the US, you’ll see a lot of the same candidates popping up on all those lists:  Haggis, Detroit and Citizen Kane, I’m looking at you. And it’s no different in the world of general aviation. Ask 100 aviators what they think the best model of aircraft is, and you may get some different answers, but one choice you’ll hear a lot is the ‘Piper J-3 Cub’. [Click to read more…]

Anders Clark was introduced to aviation a few short years ago, and has developed an interest in aviation history and what the future of aviation will bring. A writer and editor, Anders enjoys researching and sharing the stories of aviation.