Pete Bunce: A Promising Future for General Aviation

The General and Business Aviation industry has endured a great deal since the outset of the Covid-19 pandemic. We have faced numerous challenges and our resiliency has been tested, but the leading aircraft manufacturers actively managed their way through the past two years with a focus on the safety of employees, the growth of businesses and relations with customers. Pete Bunce discusses…

AvBuyer  |  14th April 2022
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As we begin to come out of the pandemic, we are seeing that the Business Aviation industry is alive with new developments and a keen eye on the future.

The General Aviation Manufacturers Association’s 2021 General Aviation Aircraft Shipments and Billings Report, released in late February, showed that our industry is healthy and growing. The strength and tenacity of the General Aviation industry has provided a strong foundation for us to rebound from pandemic-related setbacks with a powerful showing in 2021.

Overall, when compared to 2020, all aircraft segments (piston airplanes, turboprops, business jets, piston helicopters and turbine helicopters) saw increases in shipments and preliminary aircraft deliveries were valued at $25.2bn, an increase of 10.2%.

Currently, total aircraft shipments are converging on figures that were seen before the outset of the pandemic.

In 2021, the piston airplane segment saw its highest deliveries reported in over a decade, even exceeding the pre-pandemic shipments reported in 2019. These figures align with the growing demand for primary training aircraft, which is strong in the US and growing in the Asia-Pacific market.

Turboprop airplane shipments showed strong growth when compared to 2020 and are back to pre-pandemic levels. The market share of the turboprop segment showed its utility and diversity as Latin America saw growth, and shipments in the U.S., Europe and Asia-Pacific remained strong.

The turboprop segment also led the way in embracing the novel safety capability of the Collier Trophy-winning Autoland system developed by Garmin across several airplane models.

Business jet deliveries grew, compared to 2020, and are beginning to converge on pre-pandemic levels. When you examine the grouping of weight segments of business jets (Light, Mid-size and Large) you see that all three segments rebounded, which is different from what we experienced after the 2008 financial crisis (when Large Jets remained strong and smaller jets declined significantly in delivery rates).

Both the piston and turbine helicopter segments also bounced back in 2021. While the helicopter market has experienced highs and lows over the last decade, their deliveries remain healthy – particularly seen in the return in deliveries during 2021 compared to 2020.

Gearing Up for Bigger Things

Our industry stands ready to continue forging forward to create opportunities and bolster our growth. We have been able to navigate through the headwinds created by the pandemic by strategically managing workforce and supply chain challenges.

As we look to the future, it will be important that we grow and strengthen our workforce and work across our supply chain during our industry resurgence.

It is encouraging to see that flight traffic is at record levels as well as interest from new customers and buyers of General and Business Aviation aircraft. Our manufacturers entered 2022 with strong backlogs, which should make for a promising year.

As the excitement across our industry continues to grow, so do our developments in design, technology and manufacturing. There’s a continued focus on new and innovative technologies that improve utility and safety as well as advancements that improve efficiencies of aircraft.

There is also an ongoing commitment to environmental sustainability. The Business Aviation industry sector recently renewed and strengthened its record on addressing climate change with an aggressive commitment of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

And industry leaders have agreed to an initiative with the FAA with the goal of transitioning piston-engine aircraft to lead-free aviation fuels by the end of 2030. Our industry is also investing in promising new powerplant technologies in both the electric and hybrid-electric space, as well as exploring the potential future role of hydrogen as a source of power for aircraft.

The industry has shown perseverance in the face of adversity, with continued growth and excitement. We look forward to another prosperous year as we set our sights on the future of this great industry.

Pete Bunce (pictured above) is the President and CEO of the General Aviation Manufacturers Association. 

GAMA exists to foster and advance the general welfare, safety, interests and activities of the global Business and General Aviation industry, including promoting a better understanding of manufacturing, maintenance, repair, and overhaul. More information from https://gama.aero


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