There is a “wave of renewed interest in business aviation” in Latin America, according to one industry analyst. And LABACE, the Latin American Business Aviation Conference and Exhibition held at Congonhas, São Paulo, from 15 to 17 August, sought to ride that wave.
This year’s event reflected renewed growth following a low point in 2016, which saw a slimmed down event mirror a rapidly contracting domestic Brazilian corporate aircraft fleet. The number of new exhibitors this year rose by some 20% while the space-constrained static display maintained last year’s tally of 47 exhibits.
The economic outlook for Brazil, which boasts the world’s second largest general aviation sector, remains fragile. Latin America’s largest country is limping out of a recession, but growth nearly screeched to a halt in the second quarter ahead one of its most unpredictable presidential elections in memory. Elsewhere, Argentina is facing an economic crisis and the political and financial meltdown in Venezuela is sending out shockwaves.
Despite these obvious challenges, OEMs are investing heavily – Dassault’s Falcon 8X and Gulfstream’s new G600 and the Cirrus SF50 Vision all made their event debuts. China also had a significant presence reflecting its hopes for the new AVIC Harbin Y12E and Y12F turboprop twin. Major panel discussions focused on a long touted strategy to improve logistical challenges for general and corporate aviation, along with ‘piracy’ – in terms of both illegal charters and spare parts.