GAMA first-quarter numbers show cross-sector

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General aviation aircraft shipments increased by more than 9% for the first three months of the year, mainly due to a strong showing by the turboprop sector, according to the latest data from the General Aviation Manufacturers Association.

Deliveries of business jets, turboprops and piston-engined aircraft rose from 418 units during January to March 2012 to 458 units during the same period in 2013. The value of the shipments rose by 32%, to $4.6 billion, says GAMA.

"Turboprop shipments, which were up in 2012 due to strong agricultural sales, are now showing strength across the entire sector," says GAMA. Single-engined turboprop deliveries climbed by nearly 15% in the first quarter to 102 units while shipments of their twin-engined stablemates climbed by more than 75% to 34 units. The business jet and piston-engine sectors experienced modest growth for the three-months period, with shipments climbing by 4% and 3.8% respectively,

"We are very pleased to see a shift to the positive, which extends across all aircraft segments, for the first quarter of 2013," said GAMA president Pete Bunce. Gulfstream topped the business jet delivery leaderboard, revealing a year-on-year increase in output of more than 50%, including eight more large-cabin jets handed over in the first quarter. Bombardier's shipments soared by 34% in the first three months, mainly due to a surge in deliveries of its top-of-the-range Global family from four in the first three months of 2012 to 17 in the first quarter of 2013.

Beechcraft also had a delivery surge between January and March - a period that marked the former Hawker Beechcraft's emergence from bankruptcy. Deliveries during this period out-paced last-year's first quarter deliveries of 37 aircraft by nearly 76% - including the handover of the last Hawker 4000 business jet deliveries. As expected, the King Air turboprop family dominated the company's deliveries in the quarter, accounting for 34 shipments between the 350i/ER, 250 and C90GTx variants. The piston-powered segment accounted for 15 orders, including seven for the Baron G58 and nine for the G36. Beechcraft also delivered nine T-6 trainers to military customers.

Beechcraft chief executive Bill Boisture says the delivery shipments indicate the market is "responding positively" to the re-launched company. Customers have also booked new orders at the highest rate in three years for the first quarter, he adds.