• Cessna's C172SP has put together two good quarters in 2020 despite the COVID carnage in other GA sectors. (Textron Aviation)
    Cessna's C172SP has put together two good quarters in 2020 despite the COVID carnage in other GA sectors. (Textron Aviation)

Shipment figures released overnight by the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) show a significant contraction in the market for the first six months of the year.

The GAMA reports showed revealed that piston-engined aircraft deliveries shrunk by 13.3% for the first half of 2020 compared to the same period in 2019. Turbo-prop deliveries were down 34.2% and business jets down by 26.7%

GAMA president and CEO Pete Bunce said the poor results had been expected.

“It should come as no surprise to anyone that the COVID-19 pandemic severely impacted the general aviation industry and its global operations in the second quarter," he said.

"Flight activity for business aviation has appeared to return to around 85% of pre-pandemic levels in US domestic airspace, while piston, turbo-prop and rotorcraft flight activity has actually increased.

"Many travelers have also opted to explore the utility of general and business aviation for the first time, which we hope will translate into future customers for the incredible and versatile products and services our industry has to offer.”

One shining light in the delivery figures for Q2 2020 was Cessna's C172SP Skyhawk, which logged deliveries of 51 new aircraft to lead the four-seat single market. It is the best result for the type since the last quarter of 2017 and 113% better than Q2 last year. This came on the back of a good Q1 in which the type also led the sector.

Piper's Archer III also recorded a strong result, with Vero Beach delivering 45 airframes, a 7% increase over last year. Diamond's DA40 was also well in the black; the 41 deliveries up 32%.

And that's where the good news ended.

The high-speed singles market plunged with the outstanding Cirrus SR22/T, which normally is the pillar of the sector, suffering a 41% drop in shipments. All of the SR22's competitors such as the G36 Bonanza, Cessna C182T and Piper M350 recorded flat or negative growth.

GA twins likewise contracted, with the G58 Baron and Piper Seminole down 75% and Diamond's keystone DA42 53% down on Q2 last year.

Single-engined turbo-props (SETPs) were also crunched hard, with only Pilatus' PC-12 able to hold its head high. The Swiss company shipped 18 aircraft compared to the 19 delivered for the same quarter last year. Cessna's Caravan series suffered the greatest drop of the sector; the six aircraft delivered representing a 67% drop from the 18 shipped in Q2 2020.

COVID-19 precautions forced many US manufacturers in particular to lay off workers and reduce output, with many converting production to medical and protective equipment. This will account a large portion of the down-turn, but harsh economic conditions that put the brakes on spending would also have had an impact on the result.

 Major Aircraft Shipments Q1 2020

Aircraft Q2 2020 Q2 2019 Change
Piper Warrior III 0 0 0%
Cessna C172SP 51 24 113%
Piper Archer III 45 42 7%
Diamond DA40 41 31 32%
Cirrus SR20 12 23 -48%
Tecnam P2010 5 9 -44%
Cessna C182T 1 1 0%
Beech G36 Bonanza 2 2 0%
Cirrus SR22/T 49 83 -41%
Cessna TTx 0 0 -
Piper M350/Matrix 5 5 0%
Mooney Ovation/Acclaim 0 2 -
Beech G58 Baron 1 4 -75%
Piper Seminole 2 8 -75%
Piper Seneca V 0 0 0%
Diamond DA42 14 30 -53%
Tecnam P2006T 8 10 -20%
Diamond DA62 4 6 -33%
Cessna Caravan Series 6 18 -67%
Quest Kodiak 100 2 6 -67%
Pilatus PC12 18 19 -5%
Daher TBM 900 Series 9 11 -18%
PAC 750XL 0 0 0%
Piper Meridian/M500/M600 8 7 14%
Cessna Mustang & M2 6 8 -25%
Eclipse 550 0 0 -
Embraer Phenom 100 & 300 9 19 -53%
Honda HA420 2 10 -80%
SF50 Vision 13 17 -24%
Pilatus PC24 9 11 -18%
Cessna T206H 5 6 -17%
GippsAero Airvan 8 0 2 -100%
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