Sales of business and general aviation avionics totaled $2,326,852,536.79 in 2017, a 2.9% increase compared to 2016, according to the year-end avionics market report released by the Aircraft Electronics Association (AEA). The latest sales figures from AEA are the first increase in sales reported by AEA in a year-end report after two consecutive years of declining sales.
"The sales growth in the retrofit market is the obvious headline for the year," said AEA President Paula Derks, referring to the surge in demand for aftermarket avionics sales last year.
Out of the total $2.3 billion in reported sales, 57.7% resulted from installations of aftermarket avionics upgrades. That’s a 20.1% increase over 2016, and the highest recorded sales figure, $1.3 billion, for aftermarket avionics upgrades since AEA first introduced its avionics market report in 2013.
AEA’s year-end figures showed forward-fit sales fell nearly $160 million year-over-year to $984 million in 2017. That was the lowest recorded figure in the category since 2013.
The majority of the 2017 sales volume occurred in North America, with just 26.5% of the reported sales occurring outside of the U.S. and Canada.
Derks attributes the strong retrofit market to the “possibility that aircraft owners are choosing to have additional avionics work done while simultaneously coming into ADS-B compliance.”
“Many avionics shops are telling us that aircraft owners are electing to order full-panel avionics upgrades rather than just the ADS-B equipment. It will be interesting to see whether the retrofit market continues to grow significantly in the next two years as the mandate draws closer,” said Derks.
The latest reported ADS-B equipage numbers for U.S.-registered general aviation fixed-wing aircraft showed that as of Feb. 1, 2018, 36,705 general aviation aircraft are equipped with ADS-B. The FAA has consistently estimated between 100,000-160,000 business and general aviation aircraft flying in the National Airspace System (NAS) need ADS-B retrofits before the Jan. 1, 2020 deadline.
However, the actual number is difficult to estimate, considering some of those aircraft fly in airspace that does not require ADS-B equipage.