EBACE Shows Power Of BizAv

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The theme of this European Business Aviation Convention and Exhibition is that business aviation is "The Right Tool for Challenging Times." And while that sentiment is undoubtedly an easy sell on the convention floor, it's likely hoped that other ears are listening to the presentations that bolster that notion. First, it should be noted that while last year's EBACE set records for attendance and exhibitors, this year's is not much smaller and is being described as the third-largest event. Presentations at the opening day of the event mirror the hopeful and somewhat defiant tone of the convention and are highlighted by the Price Waterhouse study detailing the enormous economic impact of business aviation on Europe. Some companies picked up on the theme in their news conferences and Cessna CEO Jack Pelton, who hasn't been shy about sharing his views on the state and perception of bizav, told attendees to count their blessings.

Pelton said the company has chosen to look on the bright side of the current situation. "It is true that we will not produce at the levels anticipated a year ago, but we are going to deliver about 300 Citations in 2009, slightly fewer than in 2010, and these are numbers that in years past would have been cause for celebration," Pelton said. The Columbus program has been suspended, but Pelton said investment in research and development is proportionately the same and new products are being developed. He also noted that Cessna is continuing to expand its service network. "We have an 80-year tradition, we have a loyal customer base, and, while we have lost many good employees since November, we still have some of the industry's top people making up the Cessna family," Pelton said.