This year marked 75 years for the National Business Aviation Association and boy, do we have a lot to celebrate. It was nearly impossible to walk into NBAA-BACE with anything less than a positive attitude given the business aviation market over the last two years.
This year’s event had more than 800 exhibitors and 70 static display aircraft listed and reportedly drew more than 20,000 attendees. It was no real surprise that innovation, sustainability, supply chain and recruitment were key topics whether you attended a keynote or casually spoke at a cocktail hour.
Advanced Air Mobility
If you were seeking inspiration, all you needed to do was step into the Emerging Technology Zone. Supernal, the advanced air mobility division of Korean car maker Hyundai, had amazing positioning as you walked into the convention hall. The interactive touch screens and beautifully sleek mockup drew passersby in. As mentioned in the keynote, the competition for this market will be strong. It’s amazing to think that out of the 300 companies working on AAM, only five will probably survive funding, certification and competition.
Whether it’s Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF), book-and-claim options to offset your carbon footprint or educational sessions, we must each play a role in changing the narrative around aviation and its impact. It’s also becoming clear to groups like 4Air, a sustainability solutions program, that needs in this area are going to look different for each company.
Recruiting Now and the Next Generation
Aviation’s workforce is on everyone’s mind and how could it not be? What is becoming increasingly more evident, too, is the age at which we need to pique interest in aviation. Waiting until high school is no longer an option. We need to be developing a passion in those as young as elementary school.
Former earthrounder pilot Barrington Irving is partnering with NBAA and other industry stakeholders to build an aviation workforce training center in Miami. It’s also up to each of us to reach out on a local level. Let students know that being a pilot or a mechanic aren’t the only options. Attorneys, CPAs, marketing and creatives all serve a role. Many people are asking, who’s going to pull all of these efforts together and lead the charge?
While we were only able to attend the Tuesday and Wednesday keynotes, I must say that they were the best I’ve heard in years. On Tuesday, we had Neil deGrasse Tyson enthralling us with talk of space and not quashing curiosity in kids. On Wednesday, the team behind Top Gun: Maverick reminisced over pulling G’s and the technical flying aspects it took to make the blockbuster film as realistic as possible.
Wins for Wichita
Textron Aviation had good news throughout the show. The eAviation division is taking a leadership role in the AAM space with both electric and autonomous aircraft. It’s putting an emphasis on aftermarket services and support with expanded parts operation and new satellite service center in Dallas. There will be expanded parts distribution out of Wichita.
Celebrating and Remembering
There are more milestones to celebrate. Our friends at AIN celebrated 50 years of evolving from convention news to a key email in our inbox each day. Our clients at King Aerospace celebrated 30 years in business. We always enjoy attending the Corporate Angel Network Fund an Angel Reception. It’s a great time to connect with colleagues both new and old while raising awareness and money for an excellent cause. On a more somber note, there were several moments of recognition for our friend Gil Wolin who flew west just over a month ago. He was an industry stalwart and had a passion for connecting people.
Connection, Connection, Connection
This year marked my 19th NBAA during my career in aviation. Each year, even the ones with less-rosy outlooks, remind me why I love our industry. As I was networking at one of the many events, a group of us stood in a circle making introductions. Forget about Kevin Bacon and six degrees of separation, we quickly realized we were, at most, two degrees from each other. Within minutes, people were high-fiving, exchanging numbers and making plans to attend an NFL game together. We are an industry of connectors.
See you in Vegas, Baby
What will the market bring in the next year? There are reasons to be optimistic and pessimistic. What we do know is that Las Vegas is the home for NBAA-BACE for the next four years. “Vegas is international. It’s the global destination for a global show and it’s also a place where high-net-worth individuals tend to be very comfortable gathering,” Chris Strong, senior v-p for events at NBAA told AIN. So, bust out your rhinestone tennis shoes and we’ll see you there.