Wichita planemakers head to EBACE

Wichita planemakers are heading to Geneva, Switzerland, to showcase their products at Europe's biggest business-jet show next week.

"The international market is crucial for us now," Bombardier spokeswoman Danielle Boudreau said.

The show, the European Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition, or EBACE, runs Tuesday through Thursday. It draws customers and potential customers from around the world.

This year's show, with 481 exhibitors, is on track to be the largest EBACE in its history, organizers said. Registration is up 15 percent from last year, when more than 11,000 people attended.

Cessna Aircraft is sending a number of Wichita-based employees from sales and marketing and customer service.

"We'll have a full contingent participating," said Cessna spokesman Bob Stangarone.

The show is the most important business jet show in Europe and a good gathering for customers, suppliers, trade groups and the media, Stangarone said.

The most promising European markets are Germany, France and the United Kingdom, he said.

And "eastern Europe is in good resurgence," he said.

Aviation consultant Brian Foley said the European environment for business jets continues to get more complex.

High fuel prices, user fees, carbon taxes, airspace issues, new regulations and airport slot restrictions are enough to limit general aviation growth.

"And when you factor in sustained economic weakness, a near-term robust market outlook just isn't a reasonable expectation," Foley said in a statement.

Still, Europe will remain a significant market and account for about 20 percent of all worldwide deliveries in the next decade, down slightly from 25 percent, Foley said.

In addition, a disproportionate share of deliveries will go to new customers in Eastern Europe, he said.

Cessna will showcase some of its business jet products along with the Grand Caravan and 206 TurboStationair.

Company officials will brief the European audience on the new Citation Ten, an upgraded Citation X announced in October.

The Citation CJ4 will make its second appearance at the show. The European certification of the plane is expected shortly, and the first European-certified CJ4 will be delivered this summer to a German customer, Stangarone said.

Hawker Beechcraft will display its entire product line, the company said.

"EBACE has become a major international show that continues to expand its reach," said Sean McGeough, Hawker Beechcraft's president for Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

It's especially true this year as the company sees indications of renewed activity in the marketplace in Europe and globally, he said.

"As we continue to expand our network of sales and service representatives and our customer base continues to grow, this venue also has become a logical one for hosting customer sessions and furthering relationships," McGeough said.

Hawker Beechcraft's exhibit will have a global-customer service area with interactive kiosks, an interior selection center where customers can use computer modeling to help select their aircraft's interiors.

Bombardier will give updates on its Global line of business jets and the Learjet 85 as well as present its annual market forecast for commercial and business aircraft, Boudreau said.

Among its aircraft on display will be the Learjet 45 and Learjet 60, which are built in Wichita.