GAMA Q1 2022 Airplane Shipments: The Undercurrent

The General Aviation Manufacturers Association released results for Q1 2022 and the numbers look good. Airplane shipments totaled 491 units, up 14.7% over the 428 recorded in Q1 2021. But which sector shone brightest? Mike Potts explores.

Mike Potts  |  20th May 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, he...

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The Cessna Citation Longitude - top-selling business jet in Q1 2022

It's worth taking a deeper dive into the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) shipment reports to learn more about the new aircraft marketplace today. On the surface, things are looking good, but here's what the undercurrents reveal of the market's current health...

Business jet deliveries were ahead of their Q1 2021 totals by 4.4% (118 units versus 113). The turboprop market showed the biggest gain, however, reaching 110 units – up from 84 in Q1 2021, representing a 31% gain. Piston aircraft shipments also surged to 263 units, up from 231 in Q1 2021, a gain of 13.9%.

“It’s reassuring to see aircraft deliveries continue to show strong progress as we emerge from the impacts of the pandemic,” GAMA President and CEO Pete Bunce commented.

The only obvious downside was aircraft billings lagging the Q1 2021 results. Billings for Q1 2022 totaled $3.7 billion, versus $4.0 billion in Q1 2021.

Despite gains in every segment, a closer look at the results reveals underlying softness in much of the market. The bottom line is this: We’re not entirely out of the woods just yet. Full recovery in the Business Aviation industry has yet to be seen.

Business Jet Market Specifics

Looking at the specifics of the jet market, only four of the nine OEMs reporting in Q1 2022 enjoyed gains. Five lost ground. Moreover, there was some softness at the very top of the market, which explains why billings failed to match Q1 2021 results.

Textron: Cessna jumped out to an early, and substantial lead in Q1 2022, recording 39 deliveries, up 39.3% over the 28 units shipped in Q1 2021. In fact, Cessna’s total accounted for 33.1% of the total business jet market so far in 2022.

The company’s ‘big seller’ was the Super Mid-Size Citation Latitude, with 10 deliveries, up from six in Q1 2021. It’s an interesting reflection on the current market that a Super Mid-Size Jet model is Cessna’s best-seller. The only model out-pacing the Latitude in Q1 2022 was Cirrus’s SF50 VisionJet (11 units).

Gulfstream: Second for business jet deliveries was Gulfstream (25 units), lagging the 28 deliveries made in Q1 2021. Fully 21 of the 25 shipments were from the upper echelons of Gulfstream’s product line.

Bombardier: Close behind Gulfstream in third place, Bombardier shipped 21 units, down from 25 in Q1 2021. The company’s total included 12 Global models, six Challenger jets, and just three Learjets. Bombardier will phase out Learjet production, and this report may be among the last we’ll see carrying the iconic Learjet name.

Collectively delivery totals among the top three-ranking business jet OEMs in Q1 2022 accounted for more than 72% of the total business jet market.

I expect this situation will begin to change as some of the newer players – particularly Cirrus and Pilatus – begin capturing more market share with their lower-priced products. But so far this isn’t happening as quickly one might have expected. As this year unfolds, look to see the newer companies playing a larger role.

The Rest of the Business Jet Market…

  • Cirrus: Moving into fourth place from fifth last year, Cirrus delivered 11 SF50 VisionJets, up from seven in Q1 2021, making it one of the four jet OEMs reporting gains.
  • EmbraerFifth place went to Embraer, with eight deliveries in Q1 2022, down from 13 in Q1 2021.
  • PilatusFollowing close behind in sixth place was Pilatus with seven deliveries, up a very solid 133% over the three units recorded in Q1 2021.
  • Honda: Next was Honda with four deliveries in Q1 2022, down from five in Q1 2021.
  • Airbus/Boeing: Airbus had three deliveries in Q1 2022, up from two a year ago, while Boeing reported none, down from one in Q1 2022.

That leaves Dassault, which only reports in Q2 and Q4 of any given year. Based on the company’s historic trends, Dassault will most likely be sitting in seventh or eighth place when its results become known.

Keep in mind the unusual number of outside factors that are likely to be impacting the jet market today, including the Russian invasion of Ukraine, rising inflation rates – the likes of which have not been seen since the 1980s, the rising cost of fuel, and more. It’s likely to require for at least some of these issues to be resolved before real gains can be seen in the business jet market.

Pilatus led the market for turboprop shipments in 2021. Could it hold on to its lead in Q1 2022?


Turboprop Market Specifics

The turboprop market (as reported by GAMA) is far outpacing the other segments. As usual, however, GAMA populated the turboprop results with agricultural airplanes. How do results look for purely Business Aviation turboprop models?

Previously, the presence of the agricultural airplanes has served to unrealistically inflate the gains of the turboprop market, but here the reverse is true. Counting just the traditional turboprops, the segment is up 47.5% in Q1 2022, compared to Q1 2021.

There were 59 traditional business turboprops shipped in 2022, up from just 40 in Q1 2021, coming from nine manufacturers. Five OEMs had better results in Q1 2022 versus Q1 2021, two were even, and two were down. The turboprop segment is clearly performing better than the business jet market right now…

Three OEMs were challenging for the lead in the turboprop market…

Textron (Cessna): Having finished third at the end of 2021, Cessna took first place in Q1 2022 with 16 units, up from just seven in Q1 2021.

Textron (Beechcraft): Second place went to Textron’s other unit – Beechcraft, with 15 units, again up from seven in Q1 2021.

Pilatus: Having topped the turboprop shipments in 2021, Pilatus was in third place after Q1 2022 having made 14 deliveries, again up from seven in Q1 2021.

The Rest of the Turboprop Market…

  • Piper: Trailing in a distant fourth place, Piper shipped seven turboprop units, up from six in Q1 2021.
  • Epic: Occupying fifth place is Epic with three units, up from one in Q1 2021.
  • Daher (TBM): A pair of Daher TBMs were delivered during Q1 2022, down from five a year ago.
  • Daher (Kodiak): Two Daher Kodiaks were delivered in Q1 2022, down substantially from seven.
  • Pacific Aerospace/Piaggio: Neither Pacific Aerospace nor Piaggio shipped any units in either Q1 2022 or Q1 2021.

In Summary…

As GAMA’s Pete Bunce noted, it’s very encouraging to see all segments posting gains over results a year ago, and things seem to be starting to move toward pre-pandemic levels. But they’re not there yet.

If things continue to pick up throughout the year, then we will surely see a higher percentage of companies exceed their 2021 results, which, in turn, would truly move the Business Aviation market into an unbridled recovery. It’s been a long time coming…

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