Aug. 12--SAO PAULO, Brazil -- While Wichita was suffering through 100-degree weather last week, some Wichitans were south of the equator enjoying Brazil's wintry 75-degree temperatures.
They were in Sao Paulo to show off Wichita-built aircraft to the Latin American market.
Thousands of visitors attended the Latin American Business Aviation Conference and Exhibition (LABACE) in Sao Paulo, Brazil's wealthiest city and the business, shopping and culinary heart of South America.
The show -- much smaller than the National Business Aviation Association's annual business jet show in the U.S. --attracted jetmakers, service providers, government officials and delegations from a number of countries in the region. About 80 aircraft were on display.
The Latin American market is an important one. Nearly 15 percent of all business aircraft produced are delivered to Latin American customers, according to Teal Group analyst Richard Aboulafia.
Latin America is the third-largest market for business aircraft, behind the United States and Europe, Wichita aviation experts say. As a country, Brazil is the second-largest buyer of business aircraft.
Brazil's economy and its companies are growing, creating a greater need for travel. Its agriculture industry is growing and there is a demand for planes that can land on unpaved runways, experts say. Air travel is important because roads and Brazil's rail system are in poor shape in many areas of the country.
"There is just a general increase in the volume of trade," said Roger Whyte, Cessna's head of international sales.
Cessna has delivered 1,600 Citations, more than 100 Caravans and roughly 5,000 single-engine aircraft to Brazil, the largest and most populous country in Latin America, Cessna officials said.
Hawker Beechcraft has 905 aircraft in operation in Latin America.
Jose Eduardo Brandao, director of sales and marketing for OceanAir in Sao Paulo, is Bombardier's dealer in Brazil. He has sold Learjets for many years and said he has never seen such robust demand.
"The market is incredibly hot," Brandao said in his temporary office at the show at the Congonhas Airport. Bombardier last week opened a center in Sao Paulo to deliver parts.
"Brazil is promoting the exportation of its products worldwide," Brandao said. "There's a high number of companies expanding their frontiers.... It's a must for a country like ours to export as much as we can."
And they need business aircraft to help them, he said.
One downside to the strong market is the length of time customers must wait to take delivery of their aircraft.
"All the manufacturers are sold out," Brandao said.
Together, aircraft manufacturers plan to deliver 150 aircraft in the next two years to Brazilian customers, he said.
Hawker Beechcraft's King Air market is especially strong in Latin America, said Sean McGeough, the company's vice president for international sales. Its jet market is "coming along very nicely, too." He said his company is adding sales staff in the region.
On display at the show were Hawker Beechcraft's Hawker 400XP, Hawker 850XP, King Air B200 and C90GT, Premier IA and Baron G38.
Cessna's display included its Citation XL, Sovereign and Caravan. It displayed its popular Mustang at the show for the first time. And it brought an Independence-built Stationair single-engine aircraft.
Bombardier had its Learjet 45XR, Challenger 300 and Challenger 605 on static display.
Cessna has taken 10 orders from Brazilian customers for its new light sport aircraft, the Skycatcher. The company unveiled the plane at last month's AirVenture Oshkosh and has taken more than 700 orders worldwide so far.
Wichita manufacturers are competing for orders against manufacturers worldwide, including Brazilian jetmaker Embraer.
Embraer, which had previously concentrated on commercial jets, is developing a line of business jets. Last month, its new very light jet, the Phenom 100, flew for the first time. It also is developing a Phenom 300 light jet and is studying the market for jets larger than the 300.
This week, the company launches a nine-day Latin American tour with the Hawker 4000 starting in São Paulo with stops scheduled in Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Panama and Mexico.
HBC will also hold an operators conference for Hawker Beechcraft owners and operators in the region.
Traffic steady at static display; 93 planes on exhibit