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Latin America Offers Export Opportunities for New England Aerospace Manufacturers

June 10, 2013

Rich Carpenter
U.S. Department of Commerce
Export Assistance Center Middletown

New England aerospace manufacturers take note, the aerospace industry in Latin America needs you.  The economies of countries like Panama, Peru and Chile are growing at a fantastic rate each in excess of approximately 5%.1 These expanding markets offer tremendous potential for New England manufacturers, specifically in the fields of aerospace products and services and MRO. 

Many factors contribute to the rapid growth of the Latin American region, including enhanced political stability, major industrial and infrastructure expansion, and ambitious projects such as the altering of the Panama Canal.  Though quite viable for international maritime transit, the terrain internal to the Latin American region lends itself predominantly to air travel as the region undergoes modernization and expansion. Additionally, Latin America is to be the host of large scale events such as the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics (both in Brazil), which will drive more growth in the region. Estimates for aircraft and helicopter needs between up and coming metro and rural areas eclipse that of ground transportation needs by a wide margin.  A near complete transformation of the internal transit landscape in the Latin American region is expected over the next 10-20 years.

This transformation will take the shape of an increased fleet of single isle aircraft. The average reported estimates are for over 2300 additional single isle aircraft required to be in service by 20312  (a total value of over $260 billion USD). Though larger aircraft will be added to existing fleets, it is the rise of low-cost, short-route regional airlines such as Viva, Interjet and Azul, along with a larger set of regional mergers, that is driving the need for more small- to mid-size aircraft.  This comparatively fast modernization of the fleets of Latin America continues at a previously unseen pace.  In the year 2000, the average age of the standard in-service aircraft for the area was 16 years old.  Currently, the average aircraft age is around 10 years old, which is comparable to the average age of in-service aircraft in Europe.  This modernization is also reflected in the number of aircraft added to date, totaling roughly 800 in the last 12 years.3

Expansion of the aircraft fleet in Latin America also affects the air freight and cargo industry.  Estimates put the increase in large sized cargo or freight transport aircraft at anywhere from 300-400 new units, or a 54% increase over the same timeline.  Clearly it is not only passenger fleet expansion on the horizon, but the modernization of an entire region’s air transit system.

Two markets to highlight include Brazil and Colombia.  Aerospace is one of Brazil’s most important industries due to its high technology capability and product quality.  Aircraft manufacturer Embraer leads the industry in Brazil and offers opportunities for U.S. manufacturers — annually, Embraer imports over $2 billion (USD) of aircraft components.  Brazil’s MRO sector, currently valued at $600 million (USD), also offers U.S. manufacturers opportunities, having grown five to six percent annually over the past several years. 

Colombia’s aviation industry is growing at a rate greater than ten percent per year and is expected to continue this growth trend in the future.  In particular, the subsectors of aircraft parts, MRO services, avionics and aeronautical infrastructure equipment are seeing high growth.4

New England businesses are uniquely positioned to take part in this rapid evolution in Latin America.  Since the sheer volume of aircraft required outstrips the ability to source and service them locally (through indigenous companies such as Embraer), suppliers will be increasingly looking elsewhere to satisfy their growing needs.  Companies involved in supplying the following areas should consider entering the Latin American aviation market:

  • Aviation components
  • Computer/hardware aviation and support
  • Ground support installation and equipment
  • Life support and emergency components and services
  • Engine/Aircraft repair parts and services
  • Software development, integration (aviation and support)
  • Habitability equipment and services (including aircraft interiors and components)
  • Firefighting support and services (ground and air)

Regardless of which aspect of production your business is a part of, the potential for growing the bottom line of New England-based companies is tremendous.  By leveraging the needs of the Latin American aerospace market, it is possible to enhance the success of the New England manufacturer. 

Companies interested in exploring export opportunities in the Latin American market should contact the U.S. Commercial Service, the trade promotion arm of the U.S. Department of Commerce.  This office focuses on assisting U.S. manufacturers and service providers with increasing their exports, thereby growing their businesses in New England.  To find your local U.S. Commercial Service point of contact, visit:

U.S. Commercial Service Connecticut
213 Court Street, Suite 903
Middletown, CT, 06457
Melissa Grosso, Senior International Trade Specialist & Global Aerospace and Defense Team Leader

U.S. Commercial Service Massachusetts
55 New Sudbury Street, Suite 1826A
Boston, MA 02203
James Paul, Director


  1. Reported by the International Monetary Fund report for 2013
  2. Combined estimates for single isle aircraft 2012 current market outlook supplied by Boeing, and Airbus.
  3. Collated data from Boeing, Airbus, and Embraer and the US Commercial Service Aerospace Resource Guide 2013
  4. US Commercial Service Aerospace Resource Guide 2013

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