Sales of avionics for business and General Aviation (GA) aircraft in 2014 were fairly split between retrofitted and forward-fit equipment, according to the latest edition of the Aircraft Electronics Association (AEA) annual market report. The report shows total sales of more than $2.5 billion last year, a 4 percent increase compared to the total reported during the previous year.
According to the AEA report, the sales of forward-fit equipment were 51.4 percent of the market at $1.3 billion, a slight drop from 2013. Total sales for retrofit equipment increased to $1.2 billion, for 48.6 percent of the total market share.
The report is based on net sales prices and includes all component and accessories in cockpit/cabin/software upgrades/portables/certified and non-certified aircraft electronics; all hardware (tip to tail); batteries and chargeable product upgrades from the participating manufacturers. The report, which is currently in its third year, showed modest year-over-year growth for the second consecutive year, according to AEA. Reporting companies include some of the industry’s largest suppliers such as Honeywell Business & General Aviation, Rockwell Collins, L-3 Aviation and Universal Avionics. The total of 22 reporting companies did not change from the 2013 reporting cycle.
AEA President Paula Derks noted in the report that the first six months of 2014 contributed to a little more than half of the year’s total sales volume, compared to the third and fourth quarters which could be worth watching in the future to determine if there are some seasonality in sales trends within the course of a single year.
North America continues to provide the largest demand for business and general aviation avionics, as more than 62 percent of total sales occurred within the U.S. and Canada, compared to 37 percent of sales going to international markets.
During a recent interview with Avionics Magazine, Tom Captain, vice chairman and U.S. aerospace and defense leader at Deloitte, discussed some of the factors currently driving sales of avionics hardware.
“Aircraft are becoming smarter, and people that produce the smarter bits and kits for an airplane are avionics manufacturers,” said Captain. “They’re the ones that allow aircraft to operate in the NextGen environment. They’re making the ADS-B receivers [and] they’re also making the next generation cockpit to allow for more autonomous operation. It’s the avionics suppliers that have had a big hand in making flying safer.”
One specific technology that should continue to drive avionics sales for business and general aviation aircraft over the next two to three years but was not mentioned in the report, is the sale of Automatic Dependent Surveillance Broadcast (ADS-B) transponders, GPS receivers and other hardware. Currently, only 4 percent of the total U.S.-registered helicopter fleet is equipped with ADS-B and, although the FAA recently announced the 10,000th fixed-wing aircraft equipped with ADS-B, there are still a high number of flying legacy aircraft that need to equip.
Signs of the possibility for ADS-B to drive business and general aviation avionics sales in the near future are also highly visible during the four-day AEA convention currently taking place in Dallas, Texas. Avidyne, FreeFlight Systems, L-3 Aviation, Cobham AvComm, Trig Avionics, Appareo Systems, and Aspen Avionics all have sessions scheduled during the show to educate operators on complying with the FAA’s 2020 ADS-B Out equipage mandate. The FAA’s avionics and maintenance branch also held a session on ADS-B testing and compliance during the show.
During the AEA convention opening address, FAA Deputy Administrator Michael G. Whitaker discussed the agency’s industry outreach efforts designed to encourage early operator equipage with ADS-B technology, the Equip 2020 working group.
“We’re working through Equip 2020 to have a communication plan to the GA community and we need to let them know what the benefits [of ADS-B] are,” said Whitaker. “If you’re a repair shop you can play a key role here, let pilots know that the cost has come down. This is the time to equip.”