GA deliveries fall to lowest level since 1997


Feb. 16--Deliveries of general aviation aircraft in 2009 by Wichita's and the world's planemakers dropped to their lowest levels in more than a decade, according to a trade group that tracks the figures.

Shipments of piston, turboprop and business aircraft by Cessna Aircraft, Bombardier Learjet and Hawker Beechcraft totaled 1,061 last year, the lowest since they delivered 1,027 in 1997.

In all, aircraft manufacturers worldwide delivered 2,276 aircraft, down 43 percent from a year ago, according to figures the General Aviation Manufacturers Association released today. Billings fell 21 percent from the previous year to $19.5 billion.

GAMA released the figures at its annual industry review today in Washington, D.C.

Wichita's three general aviation manufacturers delivered 47 percent of the world's aircraft last year. The deliveries were down 41 percent from 1,809 in 2008.

Cessna delivered 740 aircraft, its lowest total since it delivered 612 planes 1997. In 2008, Cessna delivered 1,300 aircraft.

Hawker Beechcraft delivered 273 civilian planes, down from 435 in 2008 and its lowest level since it delivered 263 in 2003.

Bombardier Learjet delivered 48 Wichita-built business jets compared with 74 in 2008. It was its lowest total since delivering 48 in 2004.

"When you look at the amplitude of the downturn, it's significant," said GAMA president and CEO Pete Bunce.

Overall, the piston aircraft market has been hurt the hardest by the economic downturn, with shipments by manufacturers around the world falling 55 percent to 965.

Turboprop deliveries dropped 18 percent to 441.

Worldwide business jet deliveries dropped to 870 from 1,313, their lowest level since 750 were delivered in 2005.

For the first time, more than half of the business jets delivered last year went to customers outside of North America.

That's a reflection that some economies around the world remain in a growth mode, although not as robust as in previous years, Bunce said.

"The U.S. economy and the European economy has been affected tremendously," Bunce said.

For more on this story, come back to and look in Wednesday's Wichita Eagle.