Feb. 13, 2015

Spreading the word about the importance of jobs provided through general aviation (GA) manufacturing and their support to the United States economy was a prominent theme throughout the General Aviation Manufacturers Association’s (GAMA’s) annual State of the Industry news conference on Feb. 11.

In addition to the release of sales figures for 2014 showing continued, steady growth throughout the GA segment, the GAMA event in Washington, DC also included the release of a new PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) study about the industry’s support for 1.1 million total jobs in the U.S., contributing $219 billion in total economic output. The study was commissioned by GAMA, NBAA and several other GA organizations. Review the new PricewaterhouseCoopers study in its entirety.

GAMA President and CEO Pete Bunce cited those impressive numbers as strong evidence of “what incredible jobs” the industry not only provides directly, but also through the high-paying careers available in businesses and services, which support the nation’s GA infrastructure. “This is an industry worth stimulating by our government here in the U.S., and any government across the planet,” he emphasized.

Bunce also spoke about the significance of the study’s breakdown of the contributions from general aviation, including business aviation, to all 50 states – figures that resonate with lawmakers on Capitol Hill. “There is a logical reason why we have success recruiting members to the General Aviation Caucuses on the Hill, because these jobs matter,” Bunce said. “These are high-wage-paying jobs, high tax contributors that go into the economy.”

Following the conference, NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen echoed Bunce’s remarks about the importance of lawmakers’ support for the industry. He noted that the study will be a effective tool for spreading the message of the No Plane No Gain advocacy campaign, which is co-sponsored by GAMA and NBAA, and highlights for policymakers and opinion leaders the industry’s value to citizens, companies and communities across the U.S.

In reporting on GA marketplace trends, Bunce said that worldwide GA fixed-wing shipments rose 4.3 percent last year, from 2,353 units in 2013 to 2,454 units in 2014. Billings for GA airplanes worldwide increased to $24.5 billion, up 4.5 percent from 2013 totals.

Fixed-wing billings increased to the second-largest sales value recorded after 2008, driven by growth in sales of piston-engine aircraft and business jets – the latter boosted by surging demand for small and midsize jet aircraft across North America.

Conversely, shipments of turboprop fixed-wing aircraft slipped slightly, driven by declining sales for agricultural-application aircraft over a strong year in 2013. Combined deliveries of piston-engine and turbine-powered helicopters fell by close to 25 percent, due in part to shifting market conditions and, according to Bunce, market anticipation for upcoming new designs.

“The mixed results among segments indicate that the general aviation manufacturing industry is still facing headwinds given the tepid U.S. economic recovery and the political and economic uncertainties in Europe,” Bunce noted.