Wichitans to attend NBAA

Business aviation trade show a chance to market, network

02/19/2013 6:03 AM

08/08/2014 10:12 AM

Scores of Wichita-area business aviation professionals are heading to Orlando, Fla., next week to attend the world’s largest business aviation show and market their products and services.

They will join more than 25,000 attendees at the 65th annual National Business Aviation Association’s meeting and convention, which begins Tuesday.

Among the 30-plus Kansas manufacturers and businesses that will have exhibits at the show are Cessna Aircraft, Hawker Beechcraft and Bombardier.

Many more businesses will attend to network and meet with suppliers, customers and potential customers.

The show runs through Thursday.

About 1,000 exhibitors are expected at the Orange County Convention Center, where they will occupy more than 1 million square feet. More than 100 airplanes will be on static display at Showalter Flying Service at the Orlando Executive Airport.

It’s one of the largest trade shows in the nation.

“As always, NBAA’s Convention will showcase the size and importance of the business aviation industry,” NBAA president and CEO Ed Bolen said in a statement.

The Greater Wichita Economic Development Coalition will have an active booth. NBAA is one of the most important trade shows the coalition takes part in, said Suzie Ahlstrand, interim president. It helps nurture Wichita’s role as Air Capital of the World, she said.

“We can go and have conversations at NBAA because we know so many people,” she said. “We can get leads that way.”

The coalition will be joined by the city, Sedgwick and Butler counties, state officials, the Wichita Airport Authority, the National Institute for Aviation Research, the National Center for Aviation Training, the Newton City-County Airport, C.E. Machine and the Wichita Aero Club.

Local officials plan a variety of events, such as a meet-and-greet with U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran and presentations on doing business in Kansas and tax reforms.

Businesses tend to roll out new products and upgrades during the show, which attracts a lot of aviation media from the U.S. and around the world, to gain the broad exposure.

Major Wichita manufacturers Cessna Aircraft, Hawker Beechcraft and Bombardier and their competitors will market their aircraft and services.

Hawker Beechcraft’s announcement last week that it plans to sell or cease business jet operations may give the remaining competitors a boost, Teal Group analyst Richard Aboulafia said.

In addition, Bombardier Learjet also said it was pausing production of its Learjet 60 business jet.

“In theory that should be really good news for the products that survive,” he said. Together, “this is a big chunk of capacity suddenly possibly being taken out of the mix. That’s great news for the survivors.”

Smaller Wichita companies supporting the business jet industry, such as Mid-Continent Instrument Co., Appearance Group, Leading Technology Composites, Winglet Technology and others, will also exhibit products.

The show will honor Tuskegee Airmen. Political couple James Carville and Mary Matalin will be two of the speakers at the opening session. Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons will entertain to raise money for the Corporate Angel Network.

The mood at this year’s show may be subdued and cautious about the business jet market, experts say.

“I’m not saying things will be bleak,” Aboulafia said, but it may be a tempered environment.

The macro-indicators for sales — corporate profits, global economic growth — are stalling.

On the other hand, the number of used jets on the market, which affects the sale of new jets, is receding, he said. That’s a good sign.

While at the show, Aboulafia expects that manufacturers may announce derivatives of existing airplanes, “but nothing major.”

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