Good News For A Change

Industry sales of new general aviation aircraft are up over last year and the accident rates are down.


We’re not back to the go-go years of the late 1970s, and probably never will be, but the general aviation industry seems to be doing just fine, thank you. In the last quarter of 2023, both the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) and the Aircraft Electronics Association (AEA) announced eye-raising year-to-date sales figures for their industry segments.

As of September 30, 2023, according to GAMA, “Aircraft shipments through the third quarter of 2023, when compared to the same period in 2022, saw piston airplanes increase 11.9% with 1,135 units, turboprops increase 14.6% with 439 units, and business jets increase 2% with 455 units. The value of airplane deliveries through the third quarter of 2023 was $14.5 billion, an increase of 2.5%.”

For the same period, AEA reported “…sales increased 9.9% compared to the same time frame one year ago. Although third-quarter sales decreased 1.1% sequentially from the second quarter of 2023, the more than $814 million in sales during the third quarter marked the second-highest quarterly sales volume in the history of the report and is only surpassed by the previous quarter.”

The AEA added, “Of the more than $2.4 billion in sales during the first nine months of 2023, 40.7% came from the retrofit market (avionics equipment installed after original production), while forward-fit sales (avionics equipment installed by airframe manufacturers during original production) amounted to 59.3% of year-to-date sales.”

Accident Rates Decline; AOPA Renames Nall Report For McSpadden

Meanwhile, the AOPA Air Safety Institute (AOPA/ASI) released its 33rd Annual Report, presenting users “with near real-time accident analysis updated on a rolling 30-day cycle.” The report, formerly known as the Nall Report, in memory of NTSB Member Joseph T. Nall, who was killed in a 1989 accident near Caracas, Venezuela, been retitled the “Richard G. McSpadden Report,” in “honor and memory of our beloved friend and colleague” who died in an October 1, 2023, airplane accident in Lake Placid, N.Y. (See the NTSB Accident Reports.)

According to the updated report, which examines accidents through 2021, the last year for which complete data are available, “Non-commercial fixed-wing aircraft had 938 total accidents of which 166 were fatal. With overall accidents (938) trending upward—following a large increase in flight activity for this category—the accident rate (4.87) trended downward. Non-commercial fixed-wing aircraft showed an increase in fatal accidents (166), with the fatal accident rate falling (0.86) helped by increased flight activity. The percentage of pilot-related accidents remained around 70 percent.”

Other than the reduced rates, little else changed year-to-year. Loss of control (147) continued to dominate as the leading cause of landing accidents, for example, so we all still have work to do.


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