• Diamond's DA42 Twinstar topped the twin-engine category for shipments in Q3 2020. (Diamond Aircraft)
    Diamond's DA42 Twinstar topped the twin-engine category for shipments in Q3 2020. (Diamond Aircraft)

Piston-engined aircraft have gone against a general downward spiral, recording a growth in shipments for Q3 2020 at a time when all other sectors have returned poor results.

In the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) third quarter 2020 shipment figures released yesterday, deliveries of piston-engined aircraft were up 1.4% over the year-to-date results for 2019, whereas turbine aeroplanes and all helicopters were down across all sectors an average of 24%.

“This latest shipment report gives insight into how the industry is faring after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic," GAMA president and CEO Pete Bunce said.

"While we are still trailing in comparison to last year’s figures due to a virus impacted second quarter, it is encouraging to see deliveries in certain segments have rebounded. This is reflected in what aviators have witnessed over the past few months at GA airports on both sides of the Atlantic where flight activity is robust, particularly in the flight school arena."

According to Bunce, the industry is likely to face tougher times ahead as the COVID-19 pandemic gets a great grip, particularly on Europe.

“While the industry has shown its resilience, it will likely once again face stiff headwinds from the resurgent pandemic," he said, "especially given that many European countries have once again gone into lockdown without a common pan-European policy enabling general and business aviation travel across national borders."

The encouraging delivery figures for piston-engined aircraft were due largely to the C172SP, which recorded 94 shipments for Q3 2020, up 236% over the 28 aircraft sold for the same period in 2019. Similarly, Cirrus' stapled SR22/T was up 8% on last year to 82 deliveries, but more importantly showed a recovery from the disappointing Q2 2020 when only 49 of the type were rolled out. Piper's Archer III held its ground with a growth of 18% over last year for a return of 46 aeroplanes shipped.

Diamond's DA40 was down 19% to 25 aircraft, but that was partially offset for the Austrian manufacturer with the DA42 twin topping the category. The 20 Twinstars shipped were an improvement of 54% over last year, with Tecnam's P2006T (5), Beech G58 Baron (2) and the Piper PA-44 Seminole (9) all having flat quarters.

The impact of the pandemic on general aviation is evident in the reported shipment figures for single-engined turbo-props and single-pilot jets. Except for Embraer's Phenom range, which was up 27% over last year to 19 airframes, all models experienced either negative or flat growth.

Most prominently, the Cessna Caravan series was down 53% on Q3 2019, with only eight aircraft delivered to customers.

Sadly, unless a rescue package can be finalised, the GAMA figures also included the last two new GA8 Airvans to be sent to customers. Parent company Mahindra Aerospace ceased production this year and has reduced the company to service and spares only. Rumours about a buy-out have not yet come to any fruition.

Major Aircraft Shipments Q3 2020

Aircraft Q3 2020 Q3 2019 Change
Piper Warrior III 0 0 0%
Cessna C172SP 94 28 236%
Piper Archer III 46 39 18%
Diamond DA40 25 31 -19%
Cirrus SR20 19 9 111%
Tecnam P2010 4 9 -56%
Cessna C182T 11 14 -21%
Beech G36 Bonanza 6 2 200%
Cirrus SR22/T 82 76 8%
Piper M350/Matrix 3 4 -25%
Mooney Ovation/Acclaim 0 4 -100%
Beech G58 Baron 2 3 -33%
Piper Seminole 9 8 13%
Piper Seneca V 0 0 0%
Diamond DA42 20 13 54%
Tecnam P2006T 5 9 -44%
Diamond DA62 5 7 -29%
Cessna Caravan Series 8 17 -53%
Quest Kodiak 100 3 2 50%
Pilatus PC12 19 20 -5%
Daher TBM 900 Series 10 11 -9%
PAC 750XL 1 1 0%
Piper Meridian/M500/M600 12 11 9%
Cessna  M2 4 5 -20%
Embraer Phenom 100 & 300 19 15 27%
Honda HA420 8 8 0%
SF50 Vision 16 21 -24%
Pilatus PC24 8 11 -27%
Cessna T206H 8 13 -38%
GippsAero Airvan 8 2 5 -60%



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