Business and general aviation aircraft manufacturers achieved higher revenues in the second quarter of 2015 despite delivering fewer aircraft than in the same period a year earlier, according to the latest statistics published by the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA).

Released on 31 July, the GAMA data shows that total aircraft deliveries fell by 24 units year on year to 573 in the period – but the value of those shipments rose by about $150 million to $5.89 billion.

Overall the industry performed better in the second quarter than in the first three months of the year, when fixed-wing shipments plunged by 78 aircraft compared with the same period in 2014.

The piston-engined sector was the best performer during this period. Thanks to the growing global market for single- and twin-engined piston training aircraft, deliveries climbed by 40% between April and June to 271 aircraft, compared with 193 during the previous three months.

Gains were made by a host of airframers: Diamond saw shipments of its DA42 piston-twin climb from seven to 20 aircraft; Cessna delivered 47 examples of its high-wing 172S compared with 31 in the preceding quarter, while Cirrus Aircraft shipped 74 of its SR-series of high-performance singles compared with 43 between January and March. In fact, the SR22 accounted for the bulk of Cirrus’s deliveries as this model continues to court considerable success both in the international pilot training arena and in the burgeoning short-haul, low-cost air taxi market.

On a year-on-year basis, business jet deliveries also improved, climbing eight units to 172 aircraft in the second quarter of 2015. The bottom half of the business jet sector saw a 4% growth in overall shipments in the first six months of 2015 compared with the same period last year. This is due to a number of factors – in particular the strengthening US economy, which has triggered a re-emergence of corporate buyers, the entry into service of the Embraer Legacy 500 and Bombardier Challenger 350 twinjets, and the hike in new aircraft shipments to fractional ownership giant NetJets.

With the service entry of a number of keenly-awaited aircraft expected before the end of the year – the HondaJet, SyberJet SJ30i, Citation Latitude and Legacy 450 – this sector will be hoping to continue the positive growth trend.

In contrast, shipments of large-cabin, long-range business jets fell by 13% in the first six months to 125 aircraft. This decline is largely due to a waning appetite for big, long-distance aircraft from the previously thriving markets of China, Brazil and Russia. Dassault, for example, delivered 18 of its high-end Falcons during the first half of the year, seven fewer than the same period in 2014. Bombardier, which has already announced plans to reduce output of its Global line in response to falling demand, also shipped fewer Challenger 605s and Globals during the period.

Gulfstream fared a little better, however. It delivered 58 large-cabin, long-range jets in the first six months – only one fewer than last year – but is now set to boost production of the G650 following strong demand for its flagship aircraft.

Nonetheless, there are warnings of tougher times ahead. Aerospace analyst Brian Foley predicts “a systemic slowdown in the big cabin jet market”, from which "none of the airframers will be immune".

The turboprop sector also saw a sluggish six months, with first-half deliveries of single- and twin-engined models sliding by around 10% year on year to 246 aircraft. The decline is almost entirely due to a fall in the sales of agricultural aircraft. Air Tractor, for example, recorded a drop in shipments of its AT-family from 88 to 66 this year. Thrush Aircraft also saw deliveries of its S2R series fall from 33 to eight aircraft. If the agricultural segment is excluded, the core business turboprop market has remained flat, GAMA reveals.

For aerospace analyst Rolland Vincent, the association's latest delivery numbers are in line with industry expectations. He predicts shipments will remain stable throughout the rest of the 2015, finishing the year “slightly up” on 2014. “All eyes will be on the fourth quarter," he says, "which is shaping up to be an even larger contributor to annual results than it has been in the past, due to the large number of aircraft scheduled to enter service over the next five months."

Source: Flight International