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The General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) announced a positive trend in the production of new aircraft for general aviation in the year 2017. At the launch of the international aviation expo AERO, which takes place on the Messe Friedrichshafen fairgrounds from Wednesday, April 18 until Saturday, April 21, industry representatives shed light on the current state of affairs in the industry. They reported that 2,324 aircraft were delivered worldwide. Of these, 939 were powered by single, piston-driven engines; that is, they were the aircraft we are familiar with from Cessna, Piper, Cirrus and so forth. There was also a slight increase over last year in the number of aircraft sold in the business jet category, with a total of 676 vehicles sold. All in all, the more than 2300 aircraft delivered amounted to revenues of 20.2 billion US dollars. At the traditional Industry Meeting with television moderator Marcel Wagner held at the beginning of the expo, the panelists from the aviation industry largely shared the assessment of the association. The Deutscher Aero-Club, partner of the AERO at Lake Constance, also registered a slight increase in its membership rolls, growing to 104,620 members.
For example, a total of 6,527 single engine aircraft weighing less than two tons were registered in Germany in 2017, along with 3,528 gliders, 4,133 ultralight aircraft and 594 ultralight gyrocopters. “Significant growth in business jets,” said Dr. Nicolas von Mende, Chairman of Atlas Air Service, in a review of the past several months, which followed several years of stagnant growth. “2018 has gone well so far,” von Mende explained. With a total of twelve jets sold in 2017, he sees the segment in an upward trend.
Dr. Frank Anton of Siemens AG eAircraft envisions a bright future for aircraft with electric engines. “Hybrid electric – this drive configuration is the solution that Siemens is backing,” he explained to the journalists. Business jets with between six and 19 passengers could also soon be taking off, powered by the alternative drive system. Dr. Anton is convinced that “the aviation industry is going to undergo some big changes in the coming years.” The presentation by Siemens at the AERO at Lake Constance is correspondingly strong and enthusiastic.
On the other hand, the countless numbers of drones in the air are taking a lot of business away from helicopters. Dr. Frank Liemandt, Spokesman of the Deutscher Hubschrauber Verband (German Helicopter Association), takes a very critical view of the development of unmanned air taxis. In fields like air rescue, police work and cargo transport, helicopters are considered “busy worker bees,” which will remain essential in the future and which cannot simply be replaced by unmanned aerial machines, for safety reasons among others.
Winfried Diekmann, Managing Director/CEO at Aerosoft, also sees great enthusiasm for flight. His company is very active in the field of flight simulators, a line of business that is showing rapid growth. Professional and leisure pilots use the simulators to prepare for upcoming flights and to try out especially difficult real approach scenarios – but the fun factor for gaming enthusiasts is not shortchanged either. That is another area where flight simulators have been very well received.
“We have to share our passion for flight more than
ever,” says Hubertus von Samson-Himmelstjerna, the new general secretary of the
Deutscher Aero-Club (DAeC). The club has seen modest growth in membership.
Where ultralight aircraft, powered aircraft and model aircraft are concerned,
things are looking up, more and more people are interested in getting into the
air. “Flying is a wonderful but costly hobby,” the general secretary says
enthusiastically. This enthusiasm is also embodied by the two young pilots
Moritz Metzler and Stefan Leidig. One is passionate about flying powered
aircraft, the other spends his leisure time in the cockpit of a glider. At the
start of the industry meeting, they told the stories of their first flight