A steeper decline is expected this year, but there are hopes of a strong rebound in 2003

North American and European manufacturers delivered just short of 3,000 business jets, turboprops and pistons last year, a decrease of 4.5% over the 2000 total. A steeper decline is expected this year, but deliveries could recover next year, says the US General Aviation Manufacturers' Association (GAMA).

For the first time, GAMA has collated deliveries for both US and non-US manufacturers. Worldwide shipments totalled 2,999 aircraft last year, down from 3,140 in 2000, but industry billings increased 4% to $14 billion due to the higher proportion of business jets in the total.

Jet deliveries increased 3.6% to 760 units for the year, with US manufacturers shipping 600 aircraft, an increase of 2% over the 2000 total. Cessna made most shipments, with 306 Citations plus seven UC-35 military versions, up from 254 in 2000. Bombardier led GAMA's worldwide billings table with 182 aircraft worth almost $3.3 billion, followed by Gulfstream with 101 aircraft worth $3.2 billion. Dassault's 75 Falcon deliveries were worth almost $2 billion.

Raytheon saw business jet shipments fall to 98 units, from 118 in 2000, despite delivering the first 18 Premier Is. The company's turboprop shipments also declined, although the worldwide total increased 1.4% to 421 units - 306 of them built by US manufacturers. Worldwide piston-powered aircraft shipments fell by a tenth to 1,791 units, with all but 63 produced in the USA.

Deliveries will fall again this year, says GAMA, as the effects of 11 September exacerbate the pre-existing recession. Cessna expects to produce 300 Citations and around 600 piston singles, down from 821 last year, while Caravan turboprop shipments will be flat. Raytheon's output will fall to 305 aircraft, from 364 in 2001, a further fall in piston shipments offsetting the increase in Premier Is to 52.

New Piper's production will drop to 330 aircraft in 2002, the company having cut output last year from the originally planned 538 units to 441. But big increases in piston-single production planned by new US manufacturers Cirrus and Lancair should add almost 500 aircraft to the year-end total.

GAMA president Ed Bolen says indicators suggest the sector is poised for a strong rebound when the economy recovers. Due to the lag between an economic upturn and production cycles, this will not be experienced until 2003.

US corporate aircraft operators rose 5% last year to almost 10,000; fractional owners increased 22% to more than 3,400; and charters increased by over 25%. New pilot training figures remained flat despite September training bans.

Source: Flight International