LABACE, which took place from August 15 to 17, proved that South Americans, and particularly Brazilians, are eternal optimists. The event is not the place to expect big business aviation news, but the local news is invaluable to OEMs and suppliers alike. That said, Honda did announce it had received certification for the HondaJet from Brazil’s aviation regulator, ANAC, and Embraer—always keen to make a good showing on home soil—debuted the almost-certified Legacy 650E and underlined its commitment to that aircraft type, even as it noted the sales success of the Phenom 100/300 and Legacy 450/500.
Gulfstream, Bombardier and Dassault, the leaders in the large-cabin segment, were somewhat quiet at the show, where the focus tends to be on turboprops and rotorcraft. In that market the current Voom experiment to create an Uber-like air taxi service was perhaps the most progressive story. Backed by Airbus, Voom chose São Paulo for its launch as the city is synonymous with the need for helicopters to overcome stifling traffic in a city of 20 million people.
Another attraction was MAGA Aviation's bus. The bus has an APU, a crane and high platform, and a ground power unit to address AOGs. The local company recently became Bombardier's first mobile authorized service provider.
On the whole, organizers and exhibitors were satisfied with the summer event. Flávio Pires, director general and CEO of organizer ABAG, declared the show to be “very good. Those with smaller aircraft especially were seeing contacts and movement. Few deals were closed, but a lot of negotiations were opened.” U.S. exhibitor Phoenix East Aviation commented, “It far exceeded our expectations. We’ll be back next year.” Alexandre Gulla of local aviation logistics firm AGS told AIN, “When a company brings down a $70 million aircraft, it shows confidence in the country and the economy.”
However, some felt the event was smaller this year, with fewer exhibitors, fewer aircraft and, possibly the result of three days of rain, fewer visitors.
One exhibiting aircraft trader noted that “the currency fluctuations [previously] killed a lot of deals. Now that the exchange rate and the political outlook have stabilized, people are moving forward.” So even though the Real remains weak against the greenback, the exchange rate has stabilized and the market is happier. However, next year’s event will come in the run-up to another presidential election, in October 2018, as Brazil grapples with the long-running aftermath of the Petrobras scandal, president Rousseff’s impeachment last year and the difficulties of pension reform.