Business & GA

Retrofit Avionics Sales Growing in Business, General Aviation

By Woodrow Bellamy III | November 21, 2017

A technician installing ADS-B avionics. Photo courtesy of Elliott Aviation

The first nine months of 2017 produced a total of $1.73 billion in global business and general aviation avionics sales, according to a new report. Sales figures noted in the third quarter Aircraft Electronics Association (AEA) report show that the majority of avionics sales demand being seen in this segment of aviation is coming from retrofit activity for in-service aircraft.

According to the report, sales of business and general aviation cockpit and cabin electronics, batteries, software and related components through September 2017 have increased by 4.1%. During the third quarter months of July, August and September alone, OEMs saw a 7.1% increase in avionics sales when compared to the same period last year, totaling more than $587 million, compared to $549 million in 2016.

While not every supplier of avionics hardware and software to the business and general aviation market reports its sales to AEA for the quarterly updates, the reports do capture a substantive overview of demand for forward and retrofit sales of avionics technologies. Other data captured by AEA includes regionality, which continues to favor North America, as more than 73% of business and general aviation avionics sales occurred in the U.S. or Canada through September.

AEA President Paula Derks said she believes the retrofit market will remain healthy “as we get closer and closer to the Jan. 1, 2020, deadline for aircraft to be equipped with ADS-B Out avionics in the U.S.”

“This is consistent with what shop owners in the United States have been telling me during our AEA Connect Conferences this fall, as many have a backlog of work ranging anywhere from two to six months,” said Derks.

The latest ADS-B equipage data captured by the FAA matches Derks’ belief. As the latest numbers show, 34,000 of the more than 100,000 GA aircraft that the FAA says need ADS-B upgrades have received them. Between June and November of 2017, nearly 8,000 fixed-wing GA aircraft were equipped with ADS-B. Nearly 2,000 GA aircraft received ADS-B upgrades in October alone.

Recent quarterly earnings calls from major avionics OEMs Honeywell Aerospace and Rockwell Collins also reflect strong demand for aftermarket avionics upgrades.

Honeywell President and CEO Darius Adamczyk said the company’s aerospace division saw its aftermarket business increase by more than 7% within its fiscal third quarter. Rockwell Collins’ 2017 fourth quarter earnings report — which it counts as July, August and September — noted that aftermarket avionics sales within its commercial systems business increased “due to higher regulatory mandate upgrade sales and higher flight deck retrofit sales, partially offset by lower used aircraft equipment sales.”

2017 could be the first year of year-long business and general aviation sales growth captured by AEA since 2014, when sales increased by 4%.

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