Latin America Holds Promise

The airframe manufacturers are going ahead with their programmes in the hope that the market around the world will pick up

Issue: 09-2014By R. ChandrakanthPhoto(s): By Embraer, Bechcraft, Gulfstream, Bombardier

The 11th edition of the Latin American Business Aviation Convention and Exhibition (LABACE) 2014 held from August 12 to 14 at Sao Paulo, Brazil, was a successful one, being the second largest business aviation event after EBACE. Though the industry has been a wee bit optimistic, there is lot of expectation that governments across the world will make policy level changes to facilitate healthier growth of the business aviation segment.

In Brazil itself there are efforts to improve infrastructure as the fleet size of fixed wing business jets has been on a steady growth trajectory increasing from 623 units in 2012 to 724 in 2013, helicopters from 1,654 to 1,893 and turboprops grew by 11 per cent. Brazil has shown much higher growth rates than the rest of the world. “Once more in 2013 the market grew by five to six per cent as it has for the last decade,” said Eduardo Marson, President of Brazilian business aviation industry group and LABACE organiser ABAG. “The general aviation generates 23,000 direct jobs and recorded the highest growth than gross domestic product (GDP) of Brazil, but we still have many challenges.”

One of the challenges, not just in Brazil but in Latin American countries, is infrastructure. Ricardo Nogueira, Director General of ABAG, said that the investments in airports were not encouraging. “We’ve seen little effort to handle more aircraft, only to handle more passengers. There’s been a focus on terminals and not on airports. There has been nothing relevant to improve capacity for air traffic, only localised, uncoordinated and temporary actions.”

While infrastructure creation remains an issue in most part of the developing world, what is good news is that the airframe manufacturers are going ahead with their programmes in the hope that the market around the world will pick up.

Embraer Leads

On the opening day of the show, the Brazilian aircraft giant, Embraer announced receiving type certification from Brazil for the Legacy 500 business jet and how it has performed during the flight tests. The President and Chief Executive Officer of Embraer Executive Jets, Marco Tulio Pellegrini, explained the performance during the tests and said it would make a huge difference to operators. The Legacy 500 was first showcased at EBACE Geneva in 2008 and Embraer has revealed that the twinjet would have characteristics typical of larger, super-mid-sized jets to the midsize class with long range and a larger baggage compartment. The aircraft will deliver the take-off distance typical of midsize jets with a range profile approaching the super-midsize class. The certificated Legacy 500 can takeoff in 1,250 metres (4,080 ft), compared with the originally promised 4,600 ft.

“The closest competitor is 4,800 ft. So you’re going to be doing some missions that the other competitors – they cannot do it or they do it with some limitations,” Pellegrini mentioned.

“We are thrilled with the achievement of the Legacy 500 certification, a revolutionary jet that delivers true innovation to our customers,” said Frederico Fleury Curado, Embraer President and CEO. “I want to congratulate our teams for their passion and their dedication to bring to market this extraordinary aircraft.” The flight test programme comprised four prototype aircraft, which have carried out extensive function and reliability testing. The Legacy 500 test fleet completed over 1,800 flight hours. Over 20,000 hours of tests were conducted in laboratories with rigs for aircraft avionics, electrical, hydraulic and environmental systems. Production of the Legacy 500 has already begun and the first delivery is scheduled for September. Up to six aircraft will be produced in 2014 and production of the Legacy 500 will increase throughout 2015.

“This aircraft is a game changer! With greater range and better field performance than originally planned, the Legacy 500 sets a new standard for the midsize class,” Pellegrini added.

ProAdvantage on Beechcraft King Air Turboprops

Textron Aviation, a Textron Inc company, continues to identify best practices between Beechcraft Corporation and Cessna Aircraft Company since the integration of both companies began in March. As a result of that initiative, Beechcraft Corporation announced at LABACE that it will begin offering ProAdvantage product support programmes to the global Beechcraft King Air turboprop fleet.

“Latin America is one of the largest worldwide markets for the King Air turboprops and we wanted to make this announcement here at LABACE knowing the interest in the region would be strong,” said Brad Thress, Senior Vice President, Customer Service. “The Cessna support programmes under the ProAdvantage umbrella have become the standard in our industry and extending those services to our Beechcraft products is another example of the customer benefits that flow from the combined strength under Textron Aviation.” ProAdvantage is a legacy support solution, previously exclusively available for Cessna Citation customers, comprised of a number of programmes providing life-cycle maintenance and spares support for aircraft airframes and avionics, engines and, when applicable, auxiliary power units. More than 7,200 Beechcraft King Air turboprops have been delivered to customers around the world, with more than 1,100 currently operating in Latin America, making it one of the most popular business aviation aircraft.

Gulfstream Highly Popular in Latin America

Gulfstream Aerospace Corp opened LABACE by announcing that its fleet in Latin America has grown by nearly 70 per cent since 2009. The company had its in-production fleet — the Gulfstream G650, G550, G450, G280 and G150 — at São Paulo.

“I am very proud to say that one of every four business jets based in Latin America is a Gulfstream,” said Larry Flynn, President, Gulfstream. “That figure translates to nearly 180 aircraft. Five years ago, we had 105 aircraft here. Such remarkable growth, in a relatively short amount of time, is a testament to our aircraft’s value in Latin America as a tool for conducting business. That is very gratifying for us as a company.”

The country with the largest Gulfstream fleet in Latin America is Mexico, with nearly 80 aircraft based there. Also, there are more than 30 company aircraft that operate out of Venezuela. Gulfstream’s popularity in Latin America is particularly evident in the country with the region’s largest size, population and economy — Brazil. Since 2009, the Gulfstream in-country fleet has nearly tripled, going from 14 to 40 aircraft. Nearly half of the large-cabin business jets based in Latin America are manufactured by Gulfstream, including 30 per cent of the large-cabin jets in Brazil. The demand for Gulfstream aircraft in Latin America was the catalyst for establishing a company-owned maintenance facility in Sorocaba, Brazil, near São Paulo, in June 2012.

Dassault Falcon’s Strong Growth in Brazil Continues

Brazil continues to be a strong market for Dassault, with another five Falcons delivered to customers in the country during 2013. Dassault is the market leader in the Brazilian large cabin business jet segment with about 60 per cent market share.

“Brazil has been at the centre of the world stage over the past couple of years. It’s a dynamic country with a very healthy and diversified economy,” said John Rosanvallon, President and CEO of Dassault Falcon Jet. “Our commitment to Brazil has steadily progressed since we sold our first new airplane there over 30 years ago.” Unveiled in May 2011, the Falcon 2000S was showcased at LABACE. Equipped with a full slate of standard features, including upgraded EASy II avionics, FalconCabin HD+ entertainment system and a brand new fixed-configuration cabin designed by BMW Group DesignworksUSA, the Falcon 2000S brings large cabin comfort to the super-mid-size segment.

Dassault displayed state-of-the-art Falcon 7X that has a range of 5,950 nautical miles and a cabin mock-up of Falcon 5X. “Brazilians appreciate the superior technology and design of the Falcon jets. We have a Falcon to fit any mission that Brazilian customers demand,” commented Rosanvallon.

Russian Helicopters Serve Niche Sector

Russian Helicopters presented the Mi-171A1, Ka-32A11BC and Mi-171A2 helicopters. The legendary Mi-8/17 type helicopters hold a strong position in the market of corporate and VIP transportation. The Mi-171A1 helicopter, one of Mi-8/17 series helicopter modifications, obtained a type certificate permit in Brazil Aviation register in 2005. The fleet of Brazilian company Atlas Táxi Aéreo includes Mi-171A1 utility helicopters. They serve a growing Brazilian oil and gas sector. The Mi-171A1 helicopter has won the tender of Brazilian national oil company Petrobras and is used as a transport helicopter for cargo transportation in hard-to-reach areas of the Amazon rainforest. The Mi-171A1 served as a platform for the development of a new advanced Mi-171A2 helicopter.

Bombardier’s Class-Defining Aircraft

Bombardier Business Aircraft presented four of its class-defining business aircraft—Bombardier’s Learjet 75,Challenger 350, Challenger 605 and Global 6000 aircraft. The Challenger 350 jet that entered service in June 2014 made its debut in Brazil.

The Learjet 75 aircraft is continuing its worldwide demonstration tour with a visit to the Caribbean prior to arriving at LABACE. The aircraft will also be on display in Chile. It is expected that the aircraft will generate a high level of interest with Bombardier’s customer base in the region. The Challenger 350 will also go on a regional debut tour, with stops planned in Guatemala and throughout Brazil after LABACE.

“There is tremendous energy and growth in Latin America, and each year, LABACE is an excellent venue for Bombardier to demonstrate the strength of its product portfolio,” said Stéphane Leroy, Regional Vice President, Sales, Latin America. “We’ve invested considerably in our products in the past few years and we’re proud to show the results with the new Learjet 75 and Challenger 350 aircraft. Our fleet in the region is strong and growing, and we remain committed to the needs of our customers in Latin America by delivering innovative business jets and growing our customer service network.”