2020 Cessna 182
2020 Cessna 182. Photo courtesy Textron Aviation.

The General Aviation Manufacturers Association released its numbers for aircraft manufacturing during the first quarter of 2020, and as you might expect, it was not good news. “While the year started off strong, the health and safety restrictions put in place to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic began to significantly impact global operations, supply chains and deliveries towards the end of the first quarter,” said GAMA president and CEO Pete Bunce, pointing out another factor in the numbers, that many companies “…rapidly implemented a wide range of health protocols in accordance with local, regional and national level guidance to keep production, maintenance and training activity churning…,” while also adding to their plate, “…the production and transport of health care materials needed by front line health care workers and communities across the globe.” Several companies, as we’ve reported here, also went to work producing much needed personal protection equipment.

Deliveries across all segments were down by 20.9%, and billings, the amount those planes were valued at, was down by 21.3%. Those numbers are not always close, as the cost of one jet can represent the value of many piston singles, for example. Piston airplanes were hit less hard than other segments, with a decline of 11.7% year over year, with 219 planes handed over to owners, while turboprops were hit especially hard, with a drop of 41.8%, with deliveries dropping from 122 in the first quarter of 2019 to just 71 turboprops handed over during the same period this year.

Dollar-wise, total airplane billings, again, were down 21.3%, a number that sounds even worse when you consider the dollar value that decline represents. Airplane billings were down just under a billion dollars for the first quarter, largely as a result of the decline in bizjet deliveries, which went from 141 in 1Q 2019 to 114 in Q1 of 2020.

And the really bad news is this: The downturn didn’t really start hitting many manufacturers until some time in March, more than two months into the three-month period of time the figures cover, so the Quarter Two numbers will likely be more heavily impacted by the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.