Agricultural aircraft will continue to thrive, adds Brad Mottier, GAMA chairman and vice president and general manager of Business and General Aviation for GE. But Bunce says the “wild card” for the general aviation market will be the overall impact of sequestration. “A lot of that is going to be impacted by what happens over the next month or so,” he says.
Noting that 2012 was mixed, Mottier says, “The numbers don’t reflect the amount of development work in progress in general aviation.” Fixed-wing and helicopter manufacturers have more than 20 new aircraft under development and are investing billions into new products, he says. When those new products reach market, “we’ll see the numbers change dramatically.”
While the fixed-wing market may take some time to show significant growth, the commercial helicopter market is already there. Helicopter manufacturing “is a good business to be in right now,” Bunce notes. Helicopter manufacturers reported 1,044 deliveries valued at $3.36 billion for 2012. Deliveries were up 21.5% and billings 21% over 2011. And unlike fixed-wing aircraft, it’s the light end of the market showing the greatest rebound. Single turbines accounted for 502 of the deliveries, a 23.3% improvement. Manufacturers shipped 328 piston helicopters, up 22.4% over 2011. And Multi-engine turbine helicopter deliveries were up 16.3% to 214. Reporting manufacturers included Bell, Enstrom, Eurocopter and Robinson for the first round. GAMA is hoping to expand this list over time to include other manufacturers.
(Story is updated from early Feb. 12)