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Wichita planemakers headed to European show

  • By Molly McMillin The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Sunday, May 19, 2013, at 6:52 a.m.
  • Updated Monday, May 20, 2013, at 1:26 p.m.

Editor's Note: This story has been changed to correct an earlier version, which included the wrong model of a Learjet that will exhibited.

Wichita planemakers are heading to Geneva, Switzerland, to showcase their products at the 13th annual European Aviation Business Association convention and exhibition.

Europe remains the second largest market for business aviation, after North America.

EBACE runs Tuesday through Thursday.

Cessna Aircraft, Beechcraft Corp. and Bombardier Aerospace will be among the 500 exhibitors at the convention, which draws attendees from Europe, Africa, Asia and North America.

Last year’s show attracted 12,638 attendees, 491 exhibitors and 60 aircraft on static display.

The European market has been slow but relatively stable over the past few years, said aviation analyst Brian Foley with Brian Foley Associates, an aviation advisory firm.

“The situation will drag on a bit longer,” Foley said in a statement.

With austerity measures in place in most European countries and little to no economic growth, there’s been a cautious hesitance to take on the discretionary costs associated with private air travel, he said.

The western European business jet fleet has shrunk 2 percent in the past year, Foley said. That was led by a 6 percent drop in small-cabin jets and a 5 percent decline in medium-cabin jets.

The large cabin fleet, meanwhile, grew by 4 percent. And since 2007, it has grown from 493 to 837, a 70 percent increase.

The sluggish economy has had less effect on those who charter big cabin jets, analysts said.

But smaller entities, which typically chartered medium-size jets, are now chartering smaller ones, Foley said.

And those who chartered small-cabin jets have left the market for now.

“In the process, the mid-sized charter jet has been caught in the middle, forcing owners to store or put the airplane up for sale as opportunities to charter it have declined,” he said.

Some think it will take two or three years to get back on a growth course, Foley said.

“Europe will come back, but not to its previous prominence,” Foley said. “In our forecast, all of Europe accounts for 19 percent of future jet deliveries, down from 25 percent in the previous decade. The difference has largely been ceded to Asia, which has shown steadily increasing market potential.”

Bombardier is making its world debut of its first production Learjet 75 jet. It also will have on display the Wichita-built Learjet 75 as well as the Challenger 300, Challenger 605 and Global 6000.

Cessna is displaying its Citation CJ2+, Citation CJ4 and Citation XLS+ aircraft.

And Beechcraft will display the King Air 350i, King Air 250, King Air C90GTx, Baron G58 and Bonanza G36. The company will also display the King Air 350ER Special Mission demonstrator, which is currently on an exhibition and demonstration world tour.

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

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