Al Marsh

It’s over when it’s over

August 31, 2011 by Alton K. Marsh, Senior Editor, AOPA Pilot

Not every company had a bad second quarter in the recent aircraft delivery report by the General Aviation Manufacturers Association.  Diamond went from 35 deliveries in the second quarter of 2010 to 50 in this most recent quarter. Pilatus went from 13 aircraft deliveries to 17. Piaggio Aero delivered two aircraft instead of just one in the second quarter of 2010, so that still counts. But most companies saw a decline in deliveries, and suprisingly it was single-engine piston aircraft joining with business jets to rack up the more dramatic second-quarter declines. In the United States, single-engine deliveries dropped from 210 in the second quarter of 2010 to 133 in the most recent quarter. If piston aircraft are the canaries in the coal mine, is the aviation economy once again on its death bed? My thought is to predict neither doom nor salvation. As I recall, we here at AOPA and many others proclaimed an end to the recession in mid-2009. That didn’t happen. It won’t be over until it’s over, and no one knows when that is, but this, too, shall pass. Chill.

10 Responses to “It’s over when it’s over”

  1. Don Shapansky Says:

    When you stifle the dreamer and the doer in the US economy through regulation, liability threats, socialism and burdensom taxation you will eventually reap the benefits either positive or negative. If employment rates and retail activity are any barometer of the evironment we have created over many years it appears to be as misguided as the future is gloomy for new aircrat sales.

  2. Steve Ells Says:

    Based on the evidence gleaned during the most recent AirVenture (Oshkosh) and applied to my self-devised future-predicting prognostication tool (FPPT), GA is close to a turn around.
    I have attended AirVenture as a credentialed journalist for every one of the last 15 years. There are benefits to this and one is being bribed by vendors to write stories touting news and/or new products. The bribes can be as cool as a mini Leatherman tool Garmin handed out at a press party a few years ago to the more common and mundane T-shirt. No one I know in the media refers to these little gifts as bribes but this is the way the media-vendor relationship has evolved. Symbiosis. The most common bribe is food.
    I am very happy to announce that according to my FPPT, as indicated by an almost endless schedule of press conferences pepped up by the proliferation of free snacks, and the wide variety and plentiful amount of free food available for the media both before and throughout the week long show, GA has a bright future. 2011 was the best free food year since the wonder years of 2005 and 2006.

  3. Harrison J. Krenitsky Says:

    I disagree with this assessment of General Aviation. To liken million dollar A/C as some sort of positive or even keel sign that General Aviation will survive this economic down turn is unrealistic. The Glass being half full as oppose to half empty is an unfair evaluation of General Aviation. The cost cutting that has taken place and reflected in the airline industry’s pricing has never taken place in the general aviation industry. General Aviation has pretty much priced itself out of the lives of the ever dwindling Middle Class Americans.

    The top 2% of America’s population is able to afford purchasing an aircraft even if the prices were double on those aircraft today. The health of General Aviation might best be measured by the number of A/C missing from the tie down spots at our local airports. Those empty spots are most likely sharing a more realistic perspective.

    It is sad to say that General Aviation has once again become only a rich man’s game.


  4. Bruce W. Atkinson Says:

    I agree with Mr. Krenitsky. The dream of flying an airplane, much less owning an airplane, is fading quickly. Unless you use an airplane for business, and can get a tax write off or are a multimillionaire, private flying is quickly taking a back seat to other aspects of peoples’ lives. It is just too expensive for the $50,000 – $100,000 wage earner with a family to participate. The need to plan for the future much earlier in peoples’ lives must take priority. It is time that those at AOPA and other organizations realize that soon the only people flying will be business people and professional pilots and stop pretending flying is for anyone.

  5. Tony T Says:

    Imagine if car companies only made $200,000.00 sports cars…. how many “average” Americans would get to own a car.

    I agree that airplanes have become the play things of the the rich but it’s not entirely the manufactures fault. Litigation, liability and over regulation have added untold tens of thousands of dollars to the cost.

    I had hoped the LSA planes would come in at reasonable prices but that hope has been dashed. It makes no sense to purchase a $90,000 bottom end two seat cracker box when I can buy a very nice used 172 for half that…. duh!!

    Where are the 20 – 30K LSA’s we were promised several years ago?

    Why are we letting every country in the world build planes while we price our self out of the market?

    Is this a union issue? A regulation issue? A legal issue? A greed issue? Or is it really just inflation? I don’t know but it’s slowly killing GA and no one seems to know how or is willing to actually fix it.

    Why do we blame everything in the world for the decline in pilots and planes except cost…. PEOPLE CAN”T AFFORD IT!!!! We can’t afford to train and even if we do we can’t afford a plane and hanger, and fuel, and maintenance and every other outrageous cost associated with flying.

    Something has to give!

  6. Bruce W Says:

    Dear Alton, I will predict doom. Private aviation is as good as dead. The industry (and the lawyers) drove the costs to unsustainable levels (e.g., a four seat airplane should not cost you more than your house). The old people who already own planes are being forced out by lost medicals, obscene costs for hangars, fuel, insurance, etc. The only young people who can afford to fly now are from very wealthy families (and they stop flying once they leave home because they can’t afford it on their own). If you want to fly, you MUST become a professional pilot (or be a multi-millionaire). No individual in the lower 95% of US incomes can afford it. Once the old pilots have retired their wings, there is no-one there to take their place. We are witnessing the slow death of private aviation before our eyes. Sad, but true…

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