The dollar amount represented a 26-per-cent decrease in total year-end sales compared to 2019, which set a record-high total that topped $3 billion. It also marked the lowest amount of sales in the report's nine-year history. During the fourth-quarter months of October, November and December, sales decreased 28.1 per cent compared to the same time frame one year ago.
However, since Covid-19 began to negatively impact industry-wide sales near the end of the first quarter of 2020, the industry actually experienced healthy sales growth during the last six months of the year. For example, after total sales bottomed out in the second quarter of 2020, third-quarter sales increased 5.9 per cent with retrofit sales up 10.8 per cent compared to the second quarter. That upward trend continued with fourth-quarter sales increasing another 8.5 per cent with retrofit sales up 15.3 per cent compared to the third quarter.
Over 50 per cent of sales came from retrofit market
The dollar amount reported (using net sales price, not manufacturer's suggested retail price) includes all business and general aviation aircraft electronic sales. The amount does not include repairs and overhauls, extended warranty or subscription services.
Of the more than $2.2 billion in sales in 2020, 55.9 per cent came from the retrofit market (avionics equipment installed after original production), while forward-fit sales (avionics equipment installed by airframe manufacturers during original production) amounted to 44.1 per cent of sales.
According to the companies that separated their total sales figures between North America (US and Canada) and other international markets, 73.8 per cent of the 2020 sales volume occurred in North America, while 26.2 per cent took place in other international markets.
The industry experienced steady growth despite pandemic
"The last half of 2020 provided a softer landing as yearly sales totals slid back to roughly the same numbers in 2016-17," said AEA President and CEO Mike Adamson. "Despite the health crisis and its economic impact, I am encouraged that industry experienced steady growth during the last half of the year. Although 2020 year-end sales are significantly down from last year's all-time high, we see positive signs in the retrofit market, which means our members are keeping busy with avionics upgrades. We are hopeful the combination of innovative new products, the resilience of consumers who continue to focus on upgrades, and an uptick in aircraft production can fuel more sales growth in 2021."