Men and women in business suits — languages from throughout the world — students interested in a career in business aviation — honors for a movie star and an astronaut — a successful benefit — education sessions and even record membership numbers: all of this was part of the NBAA (National Business Aviation Association) 2013 Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition.
The gathering of key operators and industry leaders in business aviation was held October 22-24 at the Las Vegas Convention Center and the “sold out” Henderson, NV Executive Airport. At the airport, 83 fixed-wing aircraft were on display and many of those aircraft are showcased in the accompanying video. The annual NBAA Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition alternates locations between Orlando, FL and Las Vegas. Expected attendance this year was 25,000.
In the event’s opening ceremonies, NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen began by noting that the business aircraft industry has rebounded from the depths of the recession that began five years ago. That may account for the NBAA’s record membership which for the first time since the organization’s founding in 1947 passed the 10,000 mark.
Among the famous names attending the NBAA gathering was actor and pilot Harrison Ford, called “a stick and rudder person”. Ford was honored for his humanitarian work as a private pilot. In a video shown during the opening General Session, Harrison’s work was shown to include search and rescue missions in the mountains of Wyoming, Haiti relief flights, Corporate Angel Network flights taking cancer patients for their treatments, flights to bring Special Olympics participants to their competitions and work with young people interested in flying.
Capt. Eugene Cernan, Apollo 7 Astronaut and “the last man on the moon”, was presented with the Meritorious Service to Aviation Award during the event’s second-day General Session. Former NASA astronaut Bonnie Dunbar said, “Where Gene had a unique niche is that he is an engineer, who had a commitment to excellence and transferring his knowledge into later programs.”
A publication at the meeting highlighting reasons for the use of business aircraft, CEOS of ten major companies are quoted as making the case for business aircraft under these headings: Enhance Productivity, Go Multiple Places in a Day, Go Global, Travel Securely, Stay Connected, Effectively Manage Distant Facilities, Beat the Competition, Build Strong Relationships, Connect Companies & Communities and Get Face to Face. One adder: The company must be very successful, because purchasing and maintaining business aircraft is not cheap. As one observer noted, “There’s lots of money in this crowd.”
A full roster of education sessions included many which focused on emerging trends, including advanced in-cockpit display and information technologies, the continued proliferation of iPads in aircraft cockpits and the latest information for companies using aircraft to access international markets in an increasingly global business environment.
Additional activities included a Careers in Business Aviation Day for Las Vegas middle school, high school and college students and a successful benefit event raising $440,000 in support of the Corporate Angel Network.