In the business of selling aircraft, manufacturers often massage statistics of safety and performance to put there aircraft in the best light and this is to be expected. Hard cold stats of units sold is hard to massage and twist into a different representation so we thought we’d do a simple analysis of comparable aircraft of particular interest to us in the category of what are considered widely as “First Aircraft”. In other words the planes that folks coming into aviation would consider as suitable as their first aircraft that fit into a narrow band of performance (more than 140kts of speed, 4 seats and not considered High Performance or Retractible).
In the area of single engine 4 place aircraft that are sold in volume new as personal aircraft most would agree there are essentially three main aircraft. The Cessna 182T, the Cirrus SR20 and the Diamond DA40. We exclude the C172 because though it is a tried and true training aircraft, its speed limits it as a highly usable traveling aircraft on the same level as the three named above.
The chart above shows sales data for these three comparable models from 2004 through 2011.
Review of the numbers indicates something that many folks might not have guessed and that is the Diamond DA40 has been the top seller in the category 6 out of 8 years. The Cirrus SR20 for all its marketing hype, parachute and sales feet on the street has never topped the chart or out sold the DA40 and has been in third place in 5 of 8 years.The total unit sales count for these three aircraft from 2004 through 2011 is shown in the chart above. The Diamond DA40 stands out as the the clear leader over all. The most surprising part again is the lead the DA40 commands over the Cirrus SR20.
As all pilots know the market for general aviation aircraft contracted significantly from 2008-2010. The bottom appears to have been found and the industry projects significant growth going forward. In 2011 the break out for the three aircraft we are analyzing showed that the Cessna 182 sales had dropped to 25% market share that the Diamond DA40 had gained further market share. Most notable in the year to year data was that the DA40 increased from 57 to 72 from 2010 to 2011, a 26% increase, where as the C182 dropped 37.5% and the Cirrus was only up 14% year over year for 2010 to 2011.
The source of our data is the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) which tracks and publishes all member manufacturers sales and delivery statistics.
This analysis shows that among these three competing aircraft sales of all three have dropped significantly due to the general market conditions in the period viewed. The DA40 has been the consistent leader of the pack and appears to be on a stronger growth curve in the present market solidifying a dominant market share position. The reasons for these sales results is not within the scope of this article but it is hoped that if you are seeking to purchase an aircraft this data will assist you in putting the relative market positions of these aircraft into focus.