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How Many Ways Can You Find to Say ‘Flat’?

The Q3 2017 GAMA shipment report was entirely consistent with what Honeywell and JETNET told us to expect, reports Mike Potts, General Aviation analyst. The market is holding its own but growth is nowhere to be seen...except among the piston aircraft. But which OEMs shone out...?


The brightest star in the GAMA universe was the piston market, where deliveries were up 4% to 724 units (over 696 last year).


The growth should give hope to those who believe that upturns in the piston market foreshadow upturns in the turboprop and jet markets.


The fundamentals of the piston market appear better than the turboprop segment, although not quite as good as the jets.


Of 15 OEMs of business class piston aircraft reporting to GAMA this quarter, seven had improved numbers for the year. These included Cirrus, Textron Cessna, Cubcrafters, Diamond, Mahindra, Pipistrel (a new entry), and AVIC.


Finishing behind last year’s totals in piston deliveries for the year were American Champion, Extra, Maule, Mooney, Piper, Tecnam, Textron’s Beechcraft unit and Waco.


Piston Singles Market

The piston singles market leader in pistons continues to be Cirrus by a wide margin, with 236 airplanes between January-September this year compared with 226 a year ago. This included 87 in the third quarter compared with 73 a year ago. For Cirrus the piston market is doing quite nicely. 


Cessna was a distant second with 140 units, up from 127 a year ago, although Cessna’s Q3 total was down at 42 units compared with 62 last year. 


Piper was in third place with 55, narrowly edging out Diamond which had 54. Piper’s total was down slightly from the 56 it had last year. Its Q3 total was also down, from 26 to 23. Diamond, by contrast, was ahead of last year’s total when it made 46 shipments. Its quarterly result was significantly ahead, with 23 units this quarter compared to just nine last year.


Tecnam was fifth in piston production with 47 shipments, down from 69 last year. The quarterly total was also down, from 29 to 13.


Extra just beat out Cubcrafters for sixth place with 19, down one unit from the 20 it had last year. Cubcrafters had 18, up sharply from the five reported last year. Cubcrafters has grown significantly from a company that started out building light sport aircraft and has now graduated into an estimable builder of certified aircraft.


The remaining piston manufacturers all have fewer than 10 units year-to-date. Included in this is Textron’s Beechcraft which has delivered just nine of its iconic Beech Bonanza series this year, down from 16 a year ago.


One wonders how long the company will continue to support the Bonanza, which has been in continuous production since 1947, with numbers this low.


Tied with Beech at nine units was American Champion, down from 15 last year. Mahindra delivered seven of its Air Vans, up from six last year. Mooney and Waco each reported four deliveries, with Mooney down from five and Waco down from seven. Chinese AVIC reported three.


Diamond Aircraft flying in the air in clouds

Diamond Aircraft led the Q3 2017 Shipment report for twin-piston deliveries


Piston Twins Market


In contrast, the piston twin market is doing very well – in fact it is the strongest segment reported by GAMA, with deliveries up 12.63% from last year. Piston twins total 107 units so far this year, up from 95 last year. Market leader is Diamond with 53, up from 52 last year including 17 in Q3 2017 and 2016.


Tecnam was second with 28 units, up from 24, and 10 in Q3, up from eight last year. Beechcraft and Piper each reported 13 for the year-to-date, with Beech even from a year ago while Piper was up 116.67% from last year’s six. 


Where are we Headed?

Expect the piston market to continue to exhibit slow growth and finish the year in the 1,035-1,045 unit range. If piston deliveries can climb closer to the 1,100 range it might mark the beginning of a broader recovery that could spread to turboprops and jets over the next two or three years.


MI: www.gama.aero


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Read more about: Piston Market Analysis | Single Piston Aircraft | Twin Piston Aircraft | GAMA

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