WASHINGTON ― Last year was a strong one for the U.S. aerospace and defense industry, generating $865 billion in economic output and accounting for nearly 2 percent of the country’s gross domestic product. But which sectors of industry were behind 2017’s stellar numbers after two years of relatively flat growth?

According to a new report from the Aerospace Industries Association, higher shipments of commercial aircraft, general aircraft and civil space systems contributed the most to the sector’s output increase in 2017.

AIA reported a 6 percent increase in U.S. civil aircraft production, evidenced by higher shipments of helicopters, transport aircraft and general aircraft systems. In total, 2,808 units were delivered to commercial and government customers, including 763 transport aircraft, 449 helicopters and 1,596 general aviation aircraft, the report says.

Conversely, U.S. military aircraft deliveries decreased from 561 in 2016 to 538 in 2017 due to lower volumes of military helicopters and trainer aircraft. In total, 538 aircraft were delivered to U.S. and foreign customers, the report noted.

Despite a 2.2 percent decrease from 2016’s record-high aerospace and defense export numbers, U.S. industry maintained its title as the world’s largest exporter. The industry exported $143 billion worth of products and imported $56.9 billion worth of products, generating a trade surplus of approximately $85.9 billion, according to the report. That trade surplus is the second largest on record and the largest of any U.S. industry.

Where did all of these goods go?

The vast majority of the industry’s commercial exports, worth $122.8 billion, was sent to China ($16.3 billion), France ($13 billion) and the United Kingdom ($10.1 billion), the report reads.

Daniel Cebul is an editorial fellow and general assignments writer for Defense News, C4ISRNET, Fifth Domain and Federal Times.

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