Despite the rise of the delta variant throwing a wet blanket on the United States’ recovery party, the news from aircraft manufacturers is very good, though with much room for growth.
The General Aviation Manufacturer’s Association (GAMA) released its first-half delivery numbers for the industry today, and the news is extremely encouraging, though there’s still a long way to go. “While it is encouraging to see segments improve from 2020,” said Pete Bunce, president and CEO of GAMA, “we still trail when compared to how the industry was faring before the onset of the pandemic.”
News for the piston segment was downright sunny, with a 12.3% increase in deliveries compared to the first half of 2020, with a total of 565 planes handed over to customers, a level that would total out to more than 1,100 deliveries by the end of the year if the momentum holds. By recent standards, that’s a good year for piston-powered plane makers, though challenges remain. According to Bunce: “Efforts to address ongoing supply chain issues, strengthen our workforce and enhance environmental sustainability will continue to be at the forefront as interest and demand for aircraft remains robust.”
Mitigating supply chain disruption, as pointed out in an article published yesterday in the New York Times, could prove to be a long-term challenge. The story pointed out that Toyota, the world’s largest automaker, is forecasting a 40% reduction in its output because of computer chip supply disruption, and a study from a UK industrial group said that the current disruption in global supply chain logistics is the worst it has recorded since it started keeping tabs on it in 1977.
In other segments, GAMA reported that turboprop sales, while still slumping, were up better than 45% in the first half of 2021 compared to the same six-month period in 2020, and bizjet sales were up 8.2%. Moreover, though this data was not contained in GAMA’s report, good used aircraft are getting harder to find and more expensive to buy, which is always good news for plane makers, as these factors historically have always driven improved new plane sales.