First Six Months Of Year Prove Difficult For GA Manufacturers


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First Six Months Of Year Prove Difficult For GA Manufacturers

By Mike Mitchell

August 8, 2011 – The General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) released the shipment and billings figures for the first half of the year.  In the first six months of 2011, total general aviation (GA) airplane shipments worldwide fell 15.5 percent, from 936 in 2010 to 791 this year. Billings for general aviation airplanes totaled $7.3 billion, down 22.3 percent.   

Piston-powered airplane shipments totaled 387 units compared to 424 units delivered in the first six months of 2010, an 8.7 percent decrease. Turboprop shipments declined 8.9 percent to 143 units in 2011, compared to 157 units during this same period in 2010. Business jet shipments totaled 261 units, a 26.5 percent decrease as compared to the 355 units delivered in the first six months of 2010.

"These negative shipment numbers demonstrate precisely how ill-timed and potentially destructive the Obama Administration’s rhetoric and policies toward corporate jets are for general aviation,” said GAMA’s President and CEO Pete Bunce. 

"This Administration has singled out business aircraft owners with political demagoguery. It is simply astonishing that they cannot connect the dots back to manufacturing jobs and realize they are doing more damage to an industry that has obviously not yet clawed its way out of this recession. Instead of demonizing our industry, President Obama should stand up for general aviation manufacturing jobs."  

Tom Buffenbarger, international president of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, added, "If President Obama ever becomes interested in creating general aviation jobs rather than using the industry as a punching bag, we are ready to work with him to advance these job and business opportunities." 

Owners of business aircraft can depreciate their investment over five years. President Obama has proposed changing the depreciation schedule for general aviation aircraft to seven years calling the current five year schedule an “egregious” tax loophole.    

The depreciation schedule for general aviation aircraft has been in existence since the early 1980s.  Business aircraft are treated similarly to other assets such as cars, buses, trucks, and construction equipment, which can be depreciated over a five year period when purchased for business use. Many observers have criticized the Obama Administration’s focus on this provision because of its minimal impact on reducing the federal deficit. 


General aviation (GA) is one of the two categories of civil aviation. It refers to all flights other than military and scheduled airline and regular cargo flights, both private and commercial. General aviation flights range from gliders and powered parachutes to large, non-scheduled cargo jet flights. The majority of the world's air traffic falls into this category, and most of the world's airports serve general aviation exclusively. 

General aviation is particularly popular in North America, with over 6,300 airports available for public use by pilots of general aviation aircraft (around 5,200 airports in the U.S., and over 1,000 in Canada). In comparison, scheduled flights operate from around 560 airports in the U.S. According to the U.S. Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, general aviation provides more than one percent of the United States' GDP, accounting for 1.3 million jobs in professional services and manufacturing.  

General aviation covers a large range of activities, both commercial and non-commercial, including private flying, flight training, air ambulance, police aircraft, aerial firefighting, air charter, bush flying, gliding, skydiving, and many others. Homebuilt aircraft, light-sport aircraft and very light jets have emerged in recent years as new trends in general aviation.


General aviation involves a wide range of aircraft types such as business jets (bizjets), trainers, homebuilt, aerobatic types, racers, gliders, warbirds, firefighters, medical transports, and cargo transports, to name a few. The vast majority of aircraft today are general aviation types.

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