Long-range Business Jets Finding Favor in Latin America

LABACE Convention News » 2013
Brazil’s Embraer is finding a growing market in Latin America for its large-cabin, long-range business jets, such as the Lineage 1000 (in foreground) and the Legacy 650. (Photo: Kirby J. Harrison)
August 9, 2013, 9:20 AM

While analysts are forecasting a slowdown for most Latin American economies in 2013, Bombardier–in its 20-year forecast released in June this year–expects to see an improved market in 2014 and believes that as early as 2016, the Canadian manufacturer will “surpass its prior delivery peak year of 2008.”

Most of that growth will come from the company’s large-cabin, ultra long-range line of business jets: the Global 6000; and the new Global 7000 and Global 8000, due for certification in 2016 and 2017, respectively. Bombardier’s analysts expect key growth markets, including Brazil, to receive “a significant share of business jet deliveries during the next 20 years.”

As a mark of its growing regional market, Bombardier sponsored its fourth “Safety Standdown Latin America,” held in São Paulo over the two days preceding LABACE 2013. It was open to all the region’s business jet operators and their service teams, suppliers, maintenance technicians and partners.

Earlier this year, in January, Bombardier’s ultra long-range Global 6000 received certification by the Agência Nacional de Aviação Civil. With that approval, Bombardier’s full line of Learjet, Challenger and Global business jets now has Brazilian certification.

Dassault sold its first business jet in Brazil in 1978, according to Dassault Falcon president and CEO John Rosanvallon, who claims the French OEM holds a 66-percent share of the large-cabin business jet market. “We’ve seen countries like Brazil become the epicenter of business aviation’s recovery over the past several years,” Rosanvallon declared last August at LABACE 2012. “The elements remain in place for continued business aviation growth, and increased Falcon market share in Brazil.”

He emphasized that success also means servicing and supporting what the company sells and, as a result, Dassault Falcon continues to expand its Dassault Service Center in Sorocaba, about 80 kilometers (50 miles) west of São Paulo. The center is now certified to work on U.S.-, Bermuda- and Argentina-registered Falcons as well as those registered in Brazil, and has EASA approval. The facility is also supported by approximately $2 million in high-usage parts.

Embraer claims Brazil as home ground and the company’s large-cabin Legacy 600, Legacy 650 and Lineage 1000 combined fleet in Latin America now totals 30 aircraft, all but two in service in Brazil. “Embraer Executive Jets is seeing a growing demand for larger, longer-range aircraft worldwide,” said executive jets president Ernie Edwards. “Sales of the Legacy 650, for instance, are going well in China, Asia Pacific and Latin America, and we see sweet spots in each region.”

While the Legacy 650 doesn’t have the legs of its Bombardier, Dassault and Gulfstream competitors, it does have a large cabin and nonstop range from São Paulo to Miami or Cape Town, South Africa. Certification of the new Legacy 500 is expected in 2014 and, while officially a mid-size business jet, Edwards sees it as “a game changer,” with nonstop range from São Paulo to Panama City or Freetown Sierra Leone.

This year at LABACE, Embraer has staked out a chalet (No. 5115) large enough to accommodate one of each of its larger aircraft, including the Legacy 500, Legacy 650 and Lineage 1000.

As with other manufacturers with a growing presence in Latin America, Embraer has begun expanding its service and support in the region. In March last year, it announced an agreement with the state of São Paulo that will see the addition of a 19,950-sq-m (215,000 sq ft) service center at Bertram Luiz Leupolz Airport in Sorocaba. Construction of the $25 million facility will be carried out over the next five years.

Gulfstream isn’t on its home field in Latin America, but the Savannah, Georgia-based company views the region as something of a personal market playground. “We have about a 45-percent market share in the large-cabin category, from the Gulfstream IV through Gulfstream 650,” said senior regional v-p Roger Sperry. “And we’re looking at ways to gain more.” In Latin America, he said, “Our installed base was 90 aircraft in 2008, and as of June 1 that number was 176 and growing.” More than half of that number is based in Brazil and Mexico.

Sperry noted the growing number of large-cabin customers who are not only based in Latin America, but are doing business there from distant locals. “I cover Asia as well and it’s amazing the number of customers there who are doing business in Latin America. There is no business today that is not global, and if you’re expanding, you’re expanding outside your region,” he added.

He also pointed to the fact that Mexico, Brazil and Venezuela are buying more mid-cabin business jets than anywhere else globally. “Today, we have 2,159 Gulfstreams around the world, and eight percent of them are in Latin America.”

And Gulfstream is not merely selling airplanes in Latin America, said Sperry. As far back as 2009, the OEM realized that supporting and servicing what you sell is key to a successful program in the long term and it designated Jet Aviation in Sorocaba, Brazil, as a repair facility. With sales growing, and with Jet Aviation owned by Gulfstream parent company General Dynamics, the Sorocaba center was rebranded as Gulfstream Brazil in June last year.

Of the more than 175 Gulfstreams in service in Latin America today, 70 are large-cabin, long-range and ultra long-range business jets of the GIV size and larger. So, it should be no surprise that the Sorocaba facility has grown to a full-fledged service center capable of heavy maintenance work, from airframe inspections to engine changes.

In fact, the growth of service and support facilities at Bertram Luiz Leupolz Airport by the various OEMs is indicative of the growth of business aviation in Latin America, and in particular in Brazil. “And based on conversations with our customers,” concluded Gulfstream’s Sperry, “we expected a lot more people to attend the show from outside Brazil.”

In all, it spells good news for the sale of large-cabin business jets in Latin America well into the future, and for the continued growth of the LABACE event.

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