General aviation shipments, billings flat in 2011

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The general aviation aircraft market worldwide was mixed in 2011 with a slight decline of shipments, but an increase is billings. The expected resurgence did not take place. Manufacturers shipped 1,865 planes, a decline of 3.5% from 2010, while billings increased 0.4% to $19.1 billion.

Not included in the data released Feb. 22 by the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) are figures from Hawker Beechcraft’s fourth-quarter, which will be released about March 31. These figures will change the year’s total, but not to any great extent.

The expected resurgence in sales did not take place, said Caroline Daniels, GAMA chairman  and CEO of ATP. The world decline seems to have bottomed out with the North American market showing a gain. Here, jets grew 8%, turboprops climbed 15% and piston-powered upped 5%.

“A majority of the market fundamentals are moving in the right direction,” Daniels said. “Corporate profits are going up and the used market and flight activity have made year after year improvements.”

The current year marks the 10th anniversary of GAMA going international. International companies now represent 20% of GAMA membership. The organization now has a European office in Brussels.

It will also mark the start of including helicopters in the data.

Pete Bunce, President and CEO of GAMA, said the organization has seen new markets emerge since opening its doors to companies in other nations. China is a major market developing, he said. “What we see going on in China is exciting to us.”

China is a big market and will see development in all areas of general aviation such as airports, FBOs, and other services.

In response to a question from General Aviation News, Bunce said President Obama’s budget plan for a $100 per landing fee is not something to be concerned about this year as it is in the budget proposal for next year. He warned, however, that everyone must pay attention to the proposed fee because it does not work for general aviation. Citing fees charged in a few other places, he said expenses to collect the fees exceed the revenue they bring in. “Once you implement a user fee there is no way to stop it,” he added.

Bunce concluded with the message that GAMA is immensely proud that it promotes growth of the worldwide general aviation manufacturing industry. “The industry is poised for a global resurgence with emerging markets already pointing the way.”

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