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GAMA, the General Aviation Manufacturers Association, recently released aircraft shipment figures for the third quarter of 2011, which show a mixed picture.  Totals through three quarters of the year show total aircraft shipments are down 9.6% overall, and down 13.0% for business jets, the key economic driver for the sector. The table below compares shipments by type for the first three quarters of 2010 and 2011.

Interestingly, however, when comparing the individual results by quarter, the third quarter represents the first quarter in which shipments have increased over the prior year in quite some time, as shown in the table below.  While I wouldn’t have a parade, this inflection point is significant, as it indicates the first year over year growth and positive indications for the industry, which had been steadily declining year over year for the last three years.

Clearly, the industry is not out of the doldrums.  But a slight recovery is better than no recovery.  While the single-engine piston and owner flown markets remain depressed, in part due to tight financing, the business market has begun to pick-up, with a 6.7% increase in turboprops and a 22.1% increase in business jets.  Let’s hope the fourth quarter shows similar growth, and that the “bottom out” point for this industry recession is now behind us.

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