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What are the Trends in Q3 New Airplane Shipments?

Q3 2016 GAMA new airplane shipment analysis

Mike Potts   |   7th December 2016
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Mike Potts Mike Potts

Mike Potts is a writer and consultant who has been involved in aviation for more than 30 years....
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The year 2016 continues to unfold as a disappointment in the Business Aviation industry, notes Mike Potts. Particularly in the jet market, as the latest GAMA Report shows new airplane shipments are off by 3.5%, and billings down 14.4%.

In raw numbers, GAMA’s report shows 1,504 aircraft shipments for the first nine months of 2016, down from 1,558 a year ago, and down a stunning 9.67% from the 1,665 airplanes delivered during this period in 2014. Billings, meanwhile, totaled $13.4bn, down from $15.7bn last year. That’s a staggering reduction of $2.3bn.

The jet market was hardest hit (down 7.7% from last year at 429 units). In 2015 a total of 465 jets were delivered in the first nine months. If the jet market continues to perform 7.7% behind last year, we are headed for a year-end jet market of 668 units, which would be the weakest since 2005.

By contrast, GAMA reports that the turboprop market is actually ahead of last year by 1.3%, with 379 units compared with 374 a year ago. The piston market is lagging, but not nearly as badly as the jet segment. Piston deliveries totaled 696 units for the first nine months of 2016, compared with 719 in the same period a year ago (down 3.2%).

“These numbers are not what we wanted to see,” noted GAMA President and CEO Pete Bunce. “What is encouraging is that every GAMA airplane and rotorcraft manufacturer has a new product development program recently completed or currently underway, so optimism for the future is high.”

The Jet Market

Looking at the specifics of the jet market, all but one jet OEM that reported deliveries in 2015 had worse results in 2016 for both Q3 and YTD. Looking at just Q3, 137 jets were delivered compared with 160 a year ago. That’s a reduction of 14.38%. Simply put, this was a lousy quarter for jet deliveries.

For the second quarter in a row, Textron’s Cessna segment was the leader in jet deliveries, with 120 units YTD, and 41 for Q3. Bombardier, which has been the jet leader throughout most of the second decade of the 21st century, had to settle for second place with 109 units YTD and 36 for Q3. For comparison, Bombardier’s total a year ago was 135 units and 43, respectively.

It will be very interesting to see whether Cessna can finish the year in first place – a position it held solidly earlier in this century but has been unable to attain in recent years.

Gulfstream was in third place in deliveries at the end of Q3, both for the quarter and YTD, with 27 and 88 units respectively. Gulfstream’s results were off sharply from a year ago, when its 43 units for Q3 matched Bombardier’s total for the same period, although Gulfstream had fewer YTD sales than Bombardier in 2015, at 116 units.

In the billings race, Gulfstream held a solid lead despite its reduced unit deliveries, with $4.74bn in sales. Bombardier trailed in second place with $4.07bn. Among the other fixed wing OEMs, only Textron topped the $1bn sales mark, at $1.99bn for its combined jet, turboprop and piston products.

Elsewhere:

  • Embraer finished fourth in jet deliveries, with 74 units YTD, down a single unit from 75 last year, and 25 deliveries for Q3, down from 30 last year.
  • Newcomer Honda came fifth with 16 shipments YTD and six for Q3. (Honda’s numbers represent net gains for the periods since it only began delivering aircraft in Q4 2015.)
  • Dassault was sixth (although it now reports only on six-month segments). The 15 deliveries reported for the 2016 so far are down from 18 last year.
  • One, formerly Eclipse, reported a single delivery in the past quarter, bringing it to five units YTD matching its performance for the same nine-month period in 2015.
  • In the airliner-based business jet category, Boeing reported one delivery in Q3 (two for the year so far), compared with four and eight in 2015 respectively. Airbus reported no deliveries so far this year, compared with two last year, including one in the third quarter.


Jet Market Forecast

With the jet market performing so weakly throughout 2016 so far, and appearing to lose momentum as it closes in on year-end, we believe jet deliveries will fail to break the 700-mark this year, and will finish 2016 at around 675 units - a big disappointment for those of us hoping to have seen an upturn by now.

There was a time when we hoped for a return to the 1,000-unit-plus years of 2007-2008, but we now believe those were aberrations, much like the 17,000-plus piston totals we saw in the late 1970s. They may never recur again. Instead we’re likely to see totals in the 700 to 750 range for the remainder of this decade and will have to celebrate an 800-jet year as a return to exceptional prosperity when that time finally rolls around again.

The Turboprop Market

Contrasting with the jet market, the turboprop segment is enjoying comparatively strong results right now. GAMA reports turboprops are up 1.3%, but remember… that includes agricultural airplanes. Looking at just the traditional business turboprops, the market is actually up a healthy 3.7%! While not sensational, that’s considerably better than the jet or the piston results.

The picture is even rosier if we consider just the single-engine turboprop segment, where the traditional category aircraft are up a very healthy 8.74% over last year, YTD.

All told, traditional turboprops total 278 units YTD in 2016, including 199 singles and 79 twins, compared with 267 aircraft in 2015, comprised of 183 singles and 84 twins. You won’t find these numbers in the GAMA report because the association doesn’t list them this way. (GAMA, we believe, continues to make a mistake by not segmenting the agricultural airplanes from the traditional turboprops. The two markets are very different and the presence of either segment obscures what is really going on with the other.)

The turboprop trend in this latest report is mostly upward, with five of the six traditional single-engine makers up over last year for the quarter and four of the six up YTD. The twin-engine segment is less strong, with both makers even for the quarter while one is also even YTD while the other is lagging.

Pilatus PC-12NG Business Turboprop

Single-Engine Turboprops: Pilatus leads with 61 deliveries YTD, and 20 for Q3 alone (one unit ahead of last year’s Q3, but a remarkable 23 (60.52%) ahead of 2015’s nine month total of 38 units). Cessna ran a close second YTD with 58 units, and actually led for Q3 shipments at 26 deliveries. The company was ahead of its last year quarterly total of 19 but narrowly trails its 2015 YTD total of 61.

Elsewhere:

  • Third place went to Daher with 32 YTD and 14 for Q3, compared with 36 for the first nine months in 2015 and 11 for Q3 2015.
  • Quest is in fourth place YTD with 23, up from 20 last year. Quest shipped seven aircraft for Q3, making it the only turboprop OEM behind its Q3 2015 total (eight units).
  • On the basis of just Q3, Piper would be in fourth place with a total of 10, but its YTD total is just 18, lagging the 23 reported last year, as well as being five units behind Quest’s YTD total.
  • Pacific Aerospace brings up the rear in single-engine turboprop deliveries with four for Q3 and seven YTD (versus three and five, respectively in 2015).


Twin-Engine Turboprops: Textron’s Beechcraft unit leads all turboprop deliveries with 78 YTD and 29 for Q3. Those numbers lag Beechcraft’s 2015 results for the first nine months, when 84 shipments were made, but matched the Q3 2015 shipment total. Piaggio, meanwhile, delivered a single unit in each nine-month period for 2016 and 2015. None were delivered in Q3 of either year.

Turboprop Market Forecast

So where will this vibrant turboprop market finish at the close of 2016? Anticipating a fairly typical Q4 surge, we believe it will finish in the 430-435 unit range.

The Piston Market

The piston market continues to splutter along with 696 units so far in 2016, lagging 3.2% behind last year’s total of 719. Among the 13 single-engine piston OEMs, four had improved numbers YTD, two matched their prior year totals, and seven were behind their 2015 pace. Looking at just Q3, four of the OEMs were up, four were even and five were down.

Deliveries in the single-engine piston segment are somewhat below last year, with 601 units YTD 2016 versus 640 a year ago (a reduction of 6.09%). Twin-engine pistons, by contrast, are actually surging with 95 units YTD, up from 79 a year ago (a gain of 20.25%).

Twin-Engine Pistons: Driving the gain in twin-engine piston aircraft is Diamond’s introduction of its new DA62 twin. Combined with sales of its existing DA42, Diamond contributed a total of 52 units to this segment’s results YTD in 2016, compared with 35 for the period last year – a gain of 48.57%. Diamond delivered 17 twins in Q3 2016, up from eight in Q3 2015 (+112.5%), driving Diamond into the lead position in piston twin deliveries by some margin.

Second for piston twin deliveries was Tecnam, with 24 YTD, and eight for Q3, compared with 19 and eight respectively a year ago. Textron’s Beech unit was next with 13 YTD and four in Q3, compared with 11 and four a year ago, and Piper came fourth with six YTD and none in Q3 versus 14 and eight, respectively, in 2015.

Diamond DA62 Piston Twin

Single-Engine Pistons: Cirrus leads the single-engine piston segment by a wide margin YTD, with 226 units - up more than 10.78% from a year ago when it delivered 204. Cirrus shipped 73 units in Q3 alone, but trailed the 87 reported in Q3 2015.

Textron’s Cessna unit came a distant second with 127 units YTD, although 62 Q3 shipments were much closer to Cirrus’ quarterly total. Cessna’s total YTD was significantly behind the 160 reported last year, but its Q3 total was up over 54 a year ago.

Third in single-engine deliveries was Tecnam (69 YTD and 29 for Q3 2016, compared with 59 and 16, respectively, in 2015). Fourth was Piper (56 YTD and 26 for Q3 2016, compared with 41 and 13 for the same periods last year). Fifth was Diamond (46 YTD and nine for Q3 2016, versus 78 and 24, respectively in 2015). Extra was in sixth place with 20 for the YTD and six for Q3. Textron’s Beechcraft unit was seventh with 16 and six, against 18 and 6 in 2015. American Champion had 15 and six in both years. The remaining single-engine OEMs all made fewer than 10 deliveries YTD.

Piston Market Forecast

If the piston market continues to perform as it has all this year, we should see piston deliveries finish in the 1,020 to 1,025 range. Anything less than 1,000 will have to rank as a big disappointment while anything over 1,050 would have to be considered reason for celebration…

Overall Market Forecast

New airplane shipment billings should finish the year above $20bn, but shouldn’t exceed $21bn, barring a significant upturn in Q4 jet sales. While we’d all like to see improvement in 2017, most of the major forecasts don’t see things turning around for another year-or-so. Nonetheless, we can all hope for better, but don’t bet big anytime soon!


Read more about: GAMA | Buying Jets | Aircraft Sales Trends | New Jets to Market

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