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Brownback to lead Kansas delegation at Farnborough air show

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Sunday, July 8, 2012, at 7:30 a.m.

Gov. Sam Brownback and Kansas Commerce Secretary Pat George will lead a state delegation to the Farnborough International Airshow near London this week to promote the state’s aviation industry.

They will be joined by the Greater Wichita Economic Development Coalition and several Wichita suppliers to the industry.

Sen. Jerry Moran will also meet with aviation companies at the air show, which is held every two years in Farnborough, England.

The city’s largest planemakers, Spirit AeroSystems, Hawker Beechcraft, Cessna Aircraft, Boeing, Airbus and Bombardier, also will be there – to showcase and sell their products.

This year’s show starts Monday and runs through July 15. In 2010, the event generated $4.7 billion in orders, 120,000 trade visitors, 1,816 members of the media and 70 delegations from 44 countries.

“I hope to bring back jobs,” Brownback said. “We’re actively working to recruit additional companies into Wichita.”

Competition around the world is keen for Wichita’s aviation-sector jobs, and Brownback isn’t the only U.S. governor who is headed to England with the same goal. Governors from Washington to Florida and several states in between have the air show on their schedules.

“I want to sell them particularly on two points,” Brownback said: “The improved business climate and the technical education that’s available and expanding in the area.”

Specifically, the state allows a 100 percent tax write-off for investments. A technical education bill signed last month also offers an advantage.

The National Center for Aviation Training and the National Institute for Business Research also are points in the state’s favor, officials say, and Kansas is adding funds in an effort to increase the number of engineering graduates over the next eight years.

“We’ve got a better business climate,” Brownback said.

That will help companies that want to relocate or expand, he said.

Brownback said he also wants to help Kansas companies increase their international profile and grow overseas sales.

Kansas exports reached the second highest level on record last year, rising to $11.57 billion. That included $2.12 billion in aircraft manufacturing.

Wichita builds and delivers more than 40 percent of the world’s general aviation airplanes.

The state is also encouraging companies to look at the state’s rural communities as a place to put manufacturing work, similar to what Spirit AeroSystems did recently in Chanute.

“You don’t have to go to Mexico to chase cheaper costs,” Brownback said.

He said smaller rural Kansas communities have a cost structure that can be less than larger urban areas, plus they’re located within hours of Wichita.

Brownback will speak at the Aerospace Industries Association dinner at the show. He will also meet with large manufacturers and subcontractors, he said. And he will host a reception Tuesday afternoon.

Moran plans to meet with Textron and Bell representatives, Airbus, EADS, Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, Spirit AeroSystems and ATK.

The GWEDC will represent Wichita at the show, said Suzie Ahlstrand, its interim president.

“I think we have a great story to tell because of our workforce that we have available and the highly skilled nature of our work,” Ahlstrand said. “We want to make sure we make connections.”

Kansas will be one of 16 states exhibiting at the air show, Ahlstrand said.

The GWEDC will be joined by representatives from Metal Finishing, GlobalParts.aero, Harlow Aerostructures, C.E. Machine, Exacta Aerospace and Valent Aerostructures, which will share booth space and promote business.

“They can make good connections,” Ahlstrand said. “That’s the benefit of when the suppliers go with us. We can tell the community story, and they can tell their story.”

This is the first year GlobalParts.aero, based in Augusta, will exhibit at Farnborough.

The aviation parts distributor has been expanding its global reach, and the European market is its next logical move, said the company’s vice president and chief operating officer, Malissa Nesmith.

The state of Kansas “gave us the opportunity to go in and promote the company without having to do the full expense of the booth, which can get kind of pricey,” Nesmith said. “This worked out perfect for us.”

Cessna will exhibit with its sister company, Bell Helicopter. It will have a Citation Mustang business jet and Cessna Grand Caravan on display.

Hawker Beechcraft will highlight its military trainer, the T-6C Texan II, and a Beechcraft King Air 350 ER demonstrator, along with a King Air B200 and King Air 350 outfitted with surveillance and flight inspection equipment.

“We have two proven platforms that are ideal for showcasing to military and special mission customers in this region of the world: the world’s most versatile and efficient training platform, the T-6C Texan, and our adaptable, durable and sustainable King Air,” Russ Bartlett, vice president of business development at Hawker Beechcraft Defense Co., said in a statement. “Farnborough attendees will also see two modified King Air turboprops that demonstrate the aircraft’s ability to provide solutions for nearly any mission.”

Analysts expect Boeing to walk away with billions of dollars worth of airliner orders, confirming that the global demand for airplanes continues to grow.

“This year will be (Boeing’s) show,” Peter Arment, managing director of aerospace and defense for Sterne Agee, said in an analyst’s note.

Boeing potentially could take more than 400 orders for its 737 MAX, a 737 with new engines, along with orders for the 737 single-aisle airliner and its wide-body airplanes.

That would be good for Wichita, where Spirit AeroSystems builds the fuselage for the 737 aircraft.

Contact Molly McMillin at 316-269-6708 or mmcmillin@wichitaeagle.com.

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