New designs helped overall US sales figures, but most manufacturers have struggled

Pent-up demand for new types from Cessna Aircraft and Cirrus Design helped US general aviation manufacturers increase shipments again last quarter, but other producers struggled with slowing sales.

Although figures from the US General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) show both shipments and billings increasing slightly over the same period last year, to 716 aircraft worth $2.3 billion, most manufacturers delivered fewer aircraft than a year ago.

Cessna shipped 78 Citation business jets in the second quarter, 18 more than in the same period last year, boosted by deliveries of the new Citation CJ2, Encore and Excel. The company increased piston-single shipments, by 47 to 254 aircraft, largely due to deliveries of its new turbocharged T182 Skylane.

Cirrus boosted output to 53 aircraft, up 33 from the 2000 second quarter, after introducing its second piston-single model, the SR22, alongside its SR20 light aircraft.

Other manufacturers fared less well in the slowing US economy. Raytheon Aircraft delivered 10 fewer business jets than a year ago, just 21 aircraft, as demand for its Beechjet 400A collapsed. The company also shipped 10 fewer piston-powered aircraft, delivering a total of 42 Bonanza singles and Baron twins in the second quarter. King Air twin-turboprop shipments increased by three to 42, but production of the Beech 1900D regional turboprop dropped dramatically, to just two aircraft compared with 15 in the same period last year.

New Piper Aircraft shipped 82 piston-powered singles and twins in the second quarter, 32 fewer than a year ago, but saw its overall billings boosted by deliveries of 26 single-turboprop Meridians, replacing a similar number of piston-single Malibu Mirages shipped in the same period last year.

Other manufacturers had mixed results. Boeing delivered three BBJs, one fewer than a year ago; Bombardier shipped 35 Learjets, two fewer than in the 2000 second quarter; and Gulfstream shipments were stable at 18 aircraft, one fewer GIV-SP being offset by delivery of the first G100 (formerly Astra SPX).

American Champion, Commander Aircraft, Maule Air and Mooney Aircraft reported substantially lower shipments of piston singles than a year ago.

GAMA members shipped 470 piston-powered aircraft, 89 turboprops and 157 jets for a total of 716 aircraft (up 1.7%). For the first six months, shipments have dropped 2.5% from the first half of last year, to 1,284 aircraft, largely due to lower piston aircraft deliveries.

Source: Flight International