Backlash from 11 September partly to blame, but things were tough before the attacks

Deliveries by US general aviation manufacturers fell sharply in the third quarter, but not all of the drop can be blamed on the 11 September terrorist attack.

The latest shipment figures from the US General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) also reflect the economic downturn which already had the industry in its grip.

GAMA says its member companies shipped 593 aircraft in the third quarter, down from 685 in the same period last year. Turboprop deliveries were hardest hit, falling over 20% to 54 aircraft. Business jet shipments fell 8.3%, to 133 aircraft, while deliveries of piston-powered aircraft slipped by 4% to 406 aircraft.

Deliveries were hit by the extended grounding of general aviation following the terrorist attack. This prevented production test and delivery flights. While airspace restrictions are being relaxed progressively, "thousands of general aviation aircraft are idle and general aviation flights to and from all but a few countries are prohibited", says GAMA president Ed Bolen.

Cessna saw third quarter shipments fall to 280 aircraft from 350 aircraft in the third quarter of last year. Business jet shipments remained stable at 70 aircraft, but piston-aircraft deliveries fell by over 60 units. Cessna says the drop was due to the slower economy, the GA grounding and continuing restrictions on overseas deliveries.

Raytheon Aircraft shipped almost 40% fewer units in the third quarter, with deliveries of King Air turboprops and Beechjet 400A and Hawker 800XP business jets roughly halved. The company's 60-aircraft delivery total for the quarter included 18 fewer King Airs and 14 fewer business jets. Bombardier Learjet saw third quarter deliveries down 35% to 20 aircraft.

New Piper Aircraft shipped 32 fewer aircraft in the third quarter, a drop of 26% compared with a year ago. The company has already cut planned production for the rest of this year and 2002, citing reduced demand for aircraft. GAMA's totals were also hit by Mooney Aircraft's entry into Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection earlier this year.

There are some high points, notably the delivery of 45 piston singles by Cirrus Design in the third quarter, up from 25 in the same period last year. Gulfstream's shipment total was up, boosted by the inclusion of deliveries of G100 (formerly Astra) and G200 (formerly Galaxy) business jets.

Source: Flight International