Business Aviation Rapidly Expands in the United States

Today, we open our blog to Mr. Frederick Metz Shepperd of Switzerland-based Quadral Group ( Frederick is also a member of Business Facilities’ Editorial Advisory Board.

If I told you there was a North American-based industry that is undertaking facilities expansions of 50% to increase production, has delivery times for products extending into 2012 and 2013, and is receiving bonuses of $10 million for earlier delivery times, you would probably think I was crazy.

Yet this is all happening right now, in the midst of the doom and gloom on Wall Street. Smaller airports are finding new roles as economic drivers as European companies look for new production facilities and expand existing ones. Evidence of this trend was abundant at the European Business Aviation Association’s recent annual convention in Geneva, Switzerland, attended by more than 14,000 industry executives.

Here are some of the players and some of the highlights:

  • Embraer announced a new assembly facility for its Phenom jet at Melbourne International Airport in Florida. The total investment is $50 million, and the 150,000-square-foot-facility will employ 200 workers and will be completed by 2011.
  • Outsourcing done by Cessna Aircraft Company in Wichita, Kansas is helping to grow suppliers like Parker Aerospace and Rockwell Collins, to name a few. Despite some outsourcing, Cessna plans to add 1,000 workers at its Kansas plant, on top of the 1,500 hired within the last 12 months.
  • Bombardier, maker of Learjets in Georgia, in addition to the Challenger spacecraft and other business jets built near Montreal, announced a backlog of 30 months, representing the production of 2,571 new aircraft worth $63 billion.
  • Honda Jet, based in the southeast United States, is in the final approval stages for European deliveries.
  • Charter companies based in North America and abroad are racing to expand. For example, XOJet in California recently received $2.4 billion in financing to fund its global growth.

Growth is affecting all sorts of support industries and economic sectors related to business aviation. And what about all the suppliers to these companies? They are growing and moving too!

Take a closer look at that airport on the outskirts of a city. It may have the potential to be its own economic stimulus. Those big empty hangars? They can be new production centers for business aviation. Runway too short? Add some concrete and you may very well add some jobs. It is the closest thing you can get to jobs dropping from the sky.