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Friday, 19 October 2012 15:39

A Changing Landscape

Written by Sandy Showalter
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Sandy ShowalterChange is the one constant in life. We’ve all heard the saying, and for the most part I think it is a pretty handy sentence. Certainly as I watch my two boys grow up I can see a lot of truth in it; one week I am worried that the oldest isn’t eating enough, the next I am buying Whole Foods out of his new favorite brand of chicken fingers. The aviation business, at least my segment of it, tends to be a slow changer. But in the last few years as I look back those slow changes have added up big time.

Cirrus and Beechcraft, one old guard and one new kid on the block, but both American success stories, are now owned (or should be soon as I write this) by the Chinese. Cessna and Embraer both are in the process of establishing partnerships or manufacturing facilities in China. I am sure there is plenty more of this in the pipeline too. Is it negative? Not necessarily, it’s business. But it’s definitely change. In my opinion the pre-owned aircraft market has changed, possibly forever. Combine a severe economic downturn with an acute lack of new pilots coming on line, and a good chance exists that there simply will not be buyers for thousands of otherwise serviceable aircraft in the future. The FBO business is undergoing major adjustments. Fuel suppliers are exiting the business and wholesalers are consolidating. Airports are entering the business in direct competition with private enterprise. Pricing pressure continues to increase as costs rise and new revenue sources are sought out. So what’s the point you ask? Well, my point is that even in times like this I know I can find comfort talking to some colleagues. At the FATA Annual Meeting last month, as I went around and spoke to as many attendees as I could, I got the same comforting sense of optimism and stick-to-itiveness that I am used to getting. This business is changing, but the people in it and the new blood it attracts are a great breed. So while we all will certainly be on our toes as the change continues to permeate don’t forget to stay positive and enjoy the ride.

2012 Annual Meeting
I also want to extend a quick thank you to everyone who attended and especially those companies that sponsored FATA’s 2012 Annual Meeting. For me this was the best all around conference I have ever attended. The venue was tremendous, the crowd was of great quality and very engaged, and the content was top notch. Kicking the show off with a great session featuring Craig Fuller of AOPA and Ed Bolen of NBAA was an absolute treat which we hope to be able to do again for you soon. I hope everyone who was there found it to be fun and informative. I also hope to see everyone in Naples next June, and you can be sure that all of us at FATA will try to make it even better than this year!

Sandy Showalter
Director of Marketing and Aircraft Sales
Showalter Flying Service

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