Business Aviation in Latin America

 - October 27, 2008, 11:27 AM

There is an old joke in Brazil that this largest of Latin American nations “is a country of the future, and always will be.” But things have a way of changing.

Today, Brazil and the rest of Latin America represent a rapidly maturing business aviation market. Indeed, Brazil is now counted among the “BRIC” nations, referring to Brazil, Russia, India and China–all rapidly maturing markets with a growing demand for business aircraft and all that goes with them.

Rui Tomaz de Aquino, president of the Associação Brazileira de Aviação Geral (ABAG, Brazilian General Aviation Association) recently recalled the words of poet Walt Whitman, who said that if we can dream, we can also realize those dreams. “Now,” said Aquino of the resurgence of business aviation in Latin America, “those dreams are becoming a reality.”

Aquino was speaking at the Latin American Business Aviation Conference & Exhibition (LABACE), sponsored by ABAG and held in August in São Paulo, Brazil. If that show is a barometer of the growth of business aviation in Latin America, then there is room for optimism, at the very least. The total of 108 exhibitors comfortably surpassed the total of 71 at the 2007 event and, perhaps more important, an estimated $400 million in new business was generated, double the tally at LABACE 2007.

Aquino noted that 308 executive jets were delivered in Latin America last year. Among other factors fueling the growth is the aging of the business aircraft fleet in Latin America: 52 percent of executive jets and 66 percent of helicopters in the region are at least 15 years old, he noted.

That market potential is not lost on the world’s aircraft manufacturers. Virtually all had aircraft on display at LABACE 2008, a space set aside for helicopters was filled, and more than a few makers of light piston singles and turboprop aircraft were present, including Cirrus, EADS Socata, Pilatus and Piper.