Textron Counts On Latin America’s Growth Potential

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Despite political and economic headwinds in parts of the Latin American region, Textron Aviation executives are hopeful for a good showing at this year’s LABACE. “While Latin America has had some economic challenges recently—largely led by Brazil—I think it’s still been a very strong market for us,” Textron Aviation senior v-p of sales and marketing Rob Scholl told AIN.

The Wichita, Kansas–based manufacturer of Beechcraft and Cessna turboprops and jets will be in full force at the show’s static display with a slate of aircraft led by its newest and largest Cessna Citation Longitude super-midsize twin. “I think if you look at our established aircraft, they’re very popular down there—there’s a long history with Beechcraft and Cessna—and then if you see what we’ve had with the Longitude, I think we’re very happy with the feedback we’ve gotten there,” Scholl noted.

The Longitude, FAA type certification of which is expected in the third quarter, is returning to LABACE following its debut there last year. Other Textron aircraft at static include the midsize Citation Latitude, CJ3+, and M2 as well as a King Air 250 and C90 twin turboprops, and Cessna Grand Caravan EX single-engine utility turboprop.

“It’s a good show for us,” Textron Aviation v-p of sales for Latin America, Middle East, and Africa Lannie O’Bannion told AIN. “We have good customer interaction there. The last few years we’ve sold aircraft as a result of the show, which is always good.” 

O’Bannion said that from a sales standpoint, the company’s turboprop airplanes are the region’s “sweet spot.” But he and Scholl added that there’s strong interest in the region in the Latitude as well as the CJ3+ and M2, the latter of which has “been very popular for us,” O’Bannion noted. “It’s kind of that aircraft that’s fitting that niche as people are moving out of competitive aircraft that may not be performing to range. They like what the M2 can provide.”

He expects Textron’s next new airplane, the Cessna Denali single-engine turboprop, to be popular in the region as well. “We’re excited to have that airplane enter into service next year,” O’Bannion said. “And it will be nice to have that aircraft to demo around the region.”

Likewise, Cessna’s new utility twin turboprop, the SkyCourier, should also strongly resonate in the region, according to Scholl. “Given the traditional strength that we’ve seen down in that market, I think that type of utility airplane is going to play well into Latin America, too.” SkyCourier’s entry into service is expected in 2020.

‘Pockets of Growth’

O’Bannion said the company continues to see increased sales in the region year over year. Currently, markets that are strongest within the region include Argentina, Chile, Mexico, and Central America, according to Scholl and O’Bannion. 

They are also hopeful that economic conditions are improving in Brazil, one of the region’s biggest markets for turboprops and jets, if not the biggest. “Obviously there are challenges they’re going through in Brazil, but we’re optimistic this is going to pass,” O’Bannion explained. “And we continue to invest and have our products there.”

Even with Brazil’s economic challenges, and more recently in Venezuela, Latin America will continue to be a key region for Textron Aviation with an installed base of more than 3,100 jets and turboprops.

“You hear a lot about the challenges going on with trade difficulties and economic problems in Latin America, but there still are pockets of growth that drive activity for us,” Scholl added. “I think that’s the exciting thing that I see for Latin America right now. There’s a lot of growth potential there. That’s why I think it’s going to be a long-term, very important market for us.”