LAS VEGAS — Following a somber event in 2010, the National Business Aviation Association’s 64th Annual Meeting & Convention rebounded strongly here this year, attracting more than 26,000 attendees, saw a return of the major airframe manufacturers to the show floor, and carried a mood of conducting business and moving on from the downturn of the past few years.
The attitude among the major fixed base operator chains is one of cautious optimism in the short term, though they see their fate tightly linked to the economy at large. Yet, several remain bullish about growing their brands through acquisitions, particularly once the dollars in the capital markets begin to loosen up.
Comments Landmark Aviation president Dan Bucaro, “Business is good, though it’s not as consistent as we might want it to be.”
Says Greg Arnold, head of the TAC Air chain, “Business activity is stable.” He adds that a positive sign for the FBO segment is the fact that “the industry as whole is not burdened with a lot of debt.”
Maria Sastre, COO of Signature Flight Support/BBA Aviation, says that the company has “outperformed the market over the past few years,” and she anticipates significant increases over the next two years. However, she remains concerned that uncertainty on Wall Street and in the general economy, and negative publicity in Washington, put a damper on business aviation. “This industry has taken an unfair amount of castigation,” he comments. “It’s an industry that is easy to malign because it is misunderstood.”
Relates Roger Woolsey, president of the Million Air group, “I am optimistic, actually. I see the wheels turning.” He adds that a particular challenge has been access to capital for infrastructure development, but says he sees signs the market may be easing. “It’s a signal to me,” he says.
On the topic of future acquisitions, officials see the FBO business as one that continues to be in an era of consolidation, which they in turn see as an opportunity to grow their brands.
Sastre at Signature says that the company seeks to double in size over the next decade. “We’ve very bullish,” she relates.
Landmark’s Bucaro says “this industry continues to be in the big stages of consolidation,” which he sees as opportunity for his company. “You’ve got to be a prudent buyer,” he says, adding that Landmark’s strategy is focused on adding locations that “fill” the chain’s network, not just adding dots on a map.
BRIEFS FROM THE SHOW ...
New Eclipse 550s are now available
Eclipse Aerospace, Inc. reports it is now taking orders for the Eclipse 550, the new twin-engine jet model in the Eclipse family. The 550 utilizes the same airframe and power plant as the EA-500 model, along with innovations in most aircraft systems designed to improve overall operations, direct operating costs, technology, comfort, and performance. Eclipse expects to produce 50 to 100 of the $2.7 million aircraft per year with deliveries beginning in 2013.
MedAire debuts hangar safety
MedAire, an International SOS company, is offers a new 1-Day Hangar Safety Awareness Course that helps maintenance personnel and crews identify common hangar hazards, increase hangar safety, and respond to an injury or medical event within the hangar.
MedAire also makes available the 3rd edition of its Manual of In-flight Medical Care, which highlights advances in medical care and treatment.
Hawker-Beechcraft gets biofuels OK
Hawker Beechcraft announces that all of its turbine-powered aircraft are approved to use biofuels. To be used in HBC aircraft, they must meet American Society for Testing and Materials International (ASTM) turbine fuel standards.
In other news, the company breaks ground on a 48,000-sq. ft., company-owned factory service center at Monterrey, Mexico. The facility will include a 13,400-sq. ft. paint hangar and a 24,000-sq. ft. maintenance hangar.
Empty legs available at Magellan Jets
TWC will also provide Aircraft Management, Brokerage, and Worldwide Large-Cabin Charter services to XOJET clients.
Landmark expands its maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) and FBO network.