2021 Airplane Shipments Portray BizAv’s Tenacity

The General Aviation Manufacturers Association released its Shipment and Billings Report for 2021 in February, and the results left no question that we’re in a period of strong recovery. Every segment of the industry finished well ahead of last year’s totals. Mike Potts reviews…

Mike Potts  |  28th February 2022
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Mike Potts
Mike Potts

Mike Potts is a writer and consultant who has been involved in aviation for four decades. Today, he1

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Cessna Citation Latitude among the best-selling business jets in 2021


The Business Aviation industry delivered a total of 2,630 new airplanes in 2021, worth $21.6 billion. This represents a gain of 9.2% in shipments (up from 2,408 units), and 7.6% in revenue (up from $20.0 billion in 2020).

Jet deliveries were up 10.2%, finishing at 710 units, compared with 644 in 2020. The turboprop segment had the strongest gain over 2020 shipments, finishing 19% ahead with 527 units, up from 443 the year before. Piston deliveries finished 5.5% ahead at Year-End 2021, with 1,393 deliveries versus 1,321 in 2020.

“The strength and tenacity of the General Aviation industry has provided a strong foundation for the industry to rebound from pandemic-related setbacks,” said GAMA President and CEO Pete Bunce.

Jet Market Specifics

Focusing on the jet market, we see that eight of the 10 OEMs enjoyed better results in 2021 than in 2020. Textron’s Cessna unit recorded the most jet deliveries for the year with 167 units, up 26.5% from a year ago when it shipped 132. Surprisingly, Cessna’s Q4 total of 46 lagged the 61 shipped in Q4 2020.

Most companies experience a significant sales surge in Q4, with an average of about 33% of total deliveries coming in the final three months. In Cessna’s case, its Q4 2021 total was only 27.54% of its annual jet sales.

Bombardier beat Gulfstream into second place by a single unit. Bombardier finished 2021 with 120 deliveries, up 5.26% from the 114 reported in 2020, and the total was buoyed by a 31.67% sales surge in Q4 (38 units). Bombardier’s Q4 2021 sales surge was not nearly as strong as the 38.6% recorded in Q4 2020 (44 units).

Gulfstream, meanwhile, had 119 deliveries, including 39 in Q4 2021 (32.77% of the total). Gulfstream’s total lagged its 2020 result of 127 deliveries, including 40 in Q4 2020. Gulfstream easily captured the billings race, though, in 2021, with a GAMA-estimated total of $6.34 billion.

Bombardier came second with $5.75 billion. Combined, Gulfstream’s and Bombardier’s billings, at $12.1 billion, equal 56% of the total billings for the entire General Aviation industry.

Fourth place in jet deliveries went to Embraer who shipped 93 units, up 8.14% from 86 in 2020. Indeed, Embraer enjoyed a huge sales surge in Q4 2021, with 41.94% (or 39 units) deliveries. As substantial as that surge was, however, it was down from a year ago when 50% of Embraer’s sales came in Q4.

Cirrus captured fifth place in jet deliveries for 2021 with 86 units, up from 73 in 2020. Like Embraer, Cirrus had a particularly strong Q4 with 46.51% annual deliveries (40 units) occurring then, up from 35.62% in Q4 2020.

Pilatus occupied sixth spot with a total of 45 units in 2021, up 9.76% from a year ago when it shipped 41. Forty percent, or 18 of Pilatus’ total came in the fourth quarter. 

Meanwhile, Honda moved into seventh place in jet deliveries with 37 units, up from 31 in 2020 (when it finished in eighth place). Honda owed its upward momentum to a remarkable Q4 2021 surge totaling 22 units – fully 59.46% of its total annual sales.

Dassault slipped into eighth place, down from seventh in 2020, and failed to match its prior year total (30 deliveries in 2021, down from 34 in 2020).

Airbus finished ninth with 11 deliveries in 2021, up from five in 2021. Six of those units were delivered in Q4. And Boeing finished tenth with two deliveries, up from one a year ago.

While the industry can certainly be proud of the 710 jets delivered this year, I had expected the market to be a little stronger. Evidently, my prediction that jet shipments would total 725 to 750 units was optimistic.

Turboprop Market Specifics

Turning to the turboprop segment, all-but-one of the nine OEMs reporting turboprop deliveries had better results than in 2020 – a solid sign of a healthy market. Just in Q4 results were mixed, with three companies reporting gains over, two level with, and four lagging their results from Q4 2020.

GAMA continues to include agricultural airplanes in its turboprop totals. Single-seat configurations, these aircraft are hardly traditional business aircraft. By removing them from the total, there were 340 traditional business turboprops delivered in 2021 compared with 300 the year before – a gain of 13.33%.

In Q4 alone, there were 123 traditional business turboprops delivered (about 36.18% of the 2021’s total. The 340-unit total exceeded my prediction for the turboprop market, which I forecast would finish in the 315- to 330-unit range.

Pilatus led the market in 2021 with 90 units, up 9.76% over 2020 (82 units). The Swiss OEM experienced a relatively strong surge with 36.67% of its 2021 sales (33 units) coming in Q4. That’s down a single unit from 34 in Q4 2020.

Textron’s Beechcraft unit captured second place with 71 shipments for 2021, and 29 in Q4 (a surge of 40.85%). Beechcraft’s total was 14.52% ahead of 2020 when it shipped 62 turboprops. The company’s Q4 totals were level.

Third place went to Textron’s Cessna division with 54 deliveries in 2021, up from 51 in 2020. The 14 units shipped in Q4 2021 (25.93% of the yearly total) stood in sharp contrast to the 32 deliveries made in Q4 2020.

Running Textron’s Cessna unit close was Daher in fourth place with 51 deliveries of its TBM series, up from 42 the year before. That’s a gain of 21.43%. Daher benefitted from a strong Q4 surge, with 41.18 percent of their sales. That compares to 45.24% (19 units) in Q4 2020.

Daher continues to list the Kodiak separately from its TBM series. Kodiak sales totaled 17 units in 2021 and combining the two would bring Daher’s total to 68 units, putting the company in third place in turboprop deliveries for the year.

Piper finished fifth with 46 turboprops in 2021, up from the 43 reported in 2020. In Q4 alone, Piper made 15 deliveries, representing 32.6% of its total for the year.

Daher’s Kodiak unit (already discussed) took sixth place, while Epic Aircraft reported 10 deliveries in 2021, putting it in seventh place. This included four shipments for Q4 (level with Q4 2020). Epic’s annual total was up 42.86% on 2020 (seven units).

Piaggio climbed into eighth place with a single delivery (occurring in Q4). That represented the first time Piaggio reported a turboprop delivery since 2019.

Pacific Aerospace, meanwhile, made no deliveries in 2021 (compared with two during 2020). Thus, Pacific was the only turboprop maker not to show a gain over the prior year.

More information from www.gama.aero

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