For those looking to keep up on Florida’s aviation business news, one of the best events of the year was the 2012 Florida Aircraft Trades Association (FATA) annual conference. This three day event included aviation business news, recent developments in aircraft sales tax laws, aviation industry outlooks and, of course, golf, dinner and drinks!
Of the many excellent presentations one of my favorites was the “manufacturers’ panel”. Leaders from Gulfstream, Piper, Cessna, and Embraer talked a little about the state of the aircraft industry and recent sales data.
Dustin Cordier, Regional Vice President for Cessna Aircraft Company, was pleased that in addition to sales of new aircraft being up slightly from last year there is also a robust market in the used aircraft market. Aircraft between 3 and 10 years old constituted a combined 80% of the near 1000 Cessna transactions that occurred in Q1 2012, with an emphasis on the North American market.
Steve Cass of Gulfstream reported that sales of their largest aircraft continue to improve. Simon Caldecott of Vero Beach-based Piper Aircraft expressed “cautious optimism” about the remainder of 2012, encouraged by well-improved numbers from the last few years in Piper’s newer models. Clint Clouatre of Embraer, the “new kid on the block” confirmed everyone’s recognition of the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China) as major markets for general aviation aircraft going forward.
Special thanks to lobbyist Eric Prutsman, who worked tirelessly in Tallahassee to bring about positive changes for Florida’s aviation business, such as extending the state “maintenance and repair” aircraft sales tax exemption to aircraft of 2,000 GTOW and smaller, Association President Sandy Showalter for his excellent leadership and consummate skill as the Conference MC, and of course Paula Raeburn, without whom FATA would not be nearly as colorful, effective or fun!
If you’ve never stayed at the Four Seasons Palm Beach, I might add, I absolutely recommend it, and I would also like to thank whatever tech company was there with the same color badges for not throwing me out when I crashed your unbelievable buffet breakfast on the veranda. Look, it was an accident!