By Carmelo Turdo
The Show Me Expo is now in progress (June 11-12) at the Midwest Aviation Center at Spirit of St. Louis Airport in Chesterfield, MO. The event was designed to augment the National Business Aviation Association’s annual convention by providing an opportunity to showcase business aviation aircraft, financing and airport operations at the local level. Spirit of St. Louis Airport is an ideal location, since it combines all the best qualities of a business aviation center in the Midwestern U.S. Experts from aircraft manufacturers, dealers, financing entities and airport management are on hand to encourage the resurgence of business aviation, and they are already making a good impression on the participants.
Angelo Fiataruolo, General Manager of Kansas City Aviation Center (KCAC), which has full-service aircraft support facilities in the Kansas City and St. Louis areas, put the state of business aviation into perspective. “Business aviation is helpful to business and the economy. The Expo is an effort to kick start the industry,” he said. Fiataruolo, who has worked in various executive positions within the business aviation industry and as CEO of Pilatus, is cautiously optimistic about the future. He expects the core business aircraft to lift the softer market segments, such as training and other general aviation. Also, upgrades are also a key to sustaining business aviation. For example, an avionics upgrade may bring a current fleet aircraft to “better than new” standards. Government should also do its part by preventing further regulatory encroachment by refraining from applying impractical commercial carrier practices on business aviation.
Before business aviation assets can be purchased and operated, financing must be secured. Joe Krolak, Regional Sales Manager for National Aircraft Finance Company, also sees hints of a recovery within business aviation. He believes that we may have reached the bottom of the bank stress environment, and the exit of financing companies that have less experience in the business aviation market. Most aircraft are still purchased by companies and individuals who depend on air travel for business purposes, and financing opportunities for solid credit customers will continue to fuel a recovery.
Business aircraft manufacturers, including Cessna, Cirrus, Diamond, Hawker Beechcraft, Pilatus and Piper, Liberty, Daher-Socata, Aviat, Gobosh, Jabiru USA and KCAC were represented. Crews and salespersons are available to discuss how their aircraft serve the needs of business aviation customers. They are all professionals – courteous to all attendees and candid about the capabilities of their aircraft. Anyone interested in learning more about business aviation from real experts in their fields is highly encouraged to attend the Show Me Air Expo.
In Part 2, I will feature profiles of specific aircraft and their crews.