Fifteen piston aircraft OEMs report to GAMA currently and the health of the market is reflected in the fact that eight of the 15 are ahead of last year’s shipments, while two are level and five trail their 2017 totals. Aviation analyst Mike Potts explores…
The General Aviation Manufacturers Association announced delivery and billings data for the first half (H1) of 2018 in August. Total aircraft deliveries were up in H1 from 1,001 aircraft in 2017 to 1,054 in 2018. During H1 2018 there were 417 single engine piston shipments and 81 twin piston shipments, compared with 400 and 68 (respectively) in H1 2017.
Piston Single Market Review
The piston single market leader by a wide measure is Cirrus, with 172 deliveries during H1 2018, up from 149 at this point last year. The SR22T accounted for 76 of those and was the best-selling piston single in H1 2018. Overall, Cirrus enjoyed a gain of almost 15.44%, strongly out-performing the overall piston single market which is ahead by 6.4% over H1 2017.
Second place went to Textron’s Cessna unit, which has long since given up hope of reclaiming first position. Cessna delivered 80 piston singles during H1 2018, down from 98 in H1 2017. Cessna’s results were impacted by a very soft first quarter (Q1) when it delivered just 21 airplanes. In the second quarter (Q2) deliveries accelerated to 59, ahead of the 57 it reported in Q2 2017, but not enough to pass its H1 2017 total.
Piper captured third place in piston singles deliveries with 49 units. Piper’s total was up from 32 in H1 2017. In hot pursuit of Piper for third place is Italian OEM Tecnam, which reported 45 shipments in H1 2018, up from 34 last year.
Next came Diamond, with 25 shipments to complete the ‘Top Five’ piston-single OEMs in H1 2018. Diamond’s total, no doubt affected by the company’s increasing presence in the piston twin market, was down from 31 shipments in H1 2017.
Of the remaining companies, Extra’s 12 units matched its prior year total. Pipestral (seven shipments), Mooney (six), American Champion and Cubcrafter (five each), Waco (four), Textron’s Beechcraft unit and Mahindra (three each) and AVIC (two), accounted for the remaining piston single shipments.
Maule made no shipments and hasn’t done for more than two years. Nevertheless, it would seem someone is continuing to support the type certificate with the intention of putting it back in production (as was done with Mooney not long ago).
Twin Piston Market Review
Even as the piston single market is slowly gaining ground the twin piston market continues to thrive. Four companies have produced a total of 81 piston twins during H1 2018, an increase of 19.2% over the 68 shipments reported in H1 2017.
Leading the market is Diamond with 33 deliveries so far this year, down from 36 last year. Following fairly closely was Tecnam with 25. Tecnam’s H1 2018 total was greater than the 18 shipped in H1 2017, and Tecnam could be a threat to Diamond’s leadership of the twin piston market going forwards.
Piper captured third place in piston twins with 15, but like Tecnam was up significantly from a year ago when it shipped just six aircraft. Nonetheless, it’s hard to imagine Piper trying to make a big run in this market.
Bringing up the rear was Textron’s Beechcraft unit with eight shipments, the same as last year. Like Piper, Beechcraft seems a willing, but not particularly enthusiastic participant.
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