NBAA Convention Preview

 - October 23, 2006, 6:04 AM

If not for an uninvited party crasher, NBAA would be holding its 58th annual meeting and convention in the Big Easy in the middle of next month. Instead, Hurricane Katrina muscled her way into New Orleans in late August, forcing a quick relocation to Orlando for a November 9 to 11 gathering, a week earlier than previously planned.

Katrina stormed up the Mississippi River in August with devastating impact on New Orleans and much of the Gulf Coast, and it quickly became obvious that the city could not recover in time to host the NBAA or any other convention for quite some time.

“In the time since it became clear that we couldn’t stay in New Orleans, our goal has been to secure a large, exciting site, an outstanding static display facility and adequate hotels to support our convention,” said NBAA president and CEO Ed Bolen. “We are pleased that we will have these assets in Orlando.”

The exhibition floor for the event will be located in the North/South Hall of the Orange County Convention Center. The hall, which provides nearly one million sq ft of floor space, can accommodate more than 5,000 booth spaces.

The static display will now be located at Showalter Flying Service on Orlando Executive Airport, the same site that NBAA used for its static display in 2003. The facility will be able to park more than 150 aircraft.

Bolen expressed confidence that NBAA could meet the significant logistical hurdles and other challenges involved in relocating the convention on such short notice. “The NBAA Annual Meeting and Convention is one of the largest and most sophisticated shows in the U.S.,” he said.

“Obviously there are significant issues to address as we work through the process of moving the show. We know that the business aviation community understands this, but in the end, we will meet the challenges and produce a world-class event that makes our members proud.”

An NBAA representative said, “So far we are hearing people are planning to attend” the Orlando event and the change is not having a dramatic effect on attendance. “We are still expecting strong attendance,” said Kathleen Blouin, senior v-p of conventions and seminars. “We think we still will have roughly the same number [of attendees] we usually do.”

Last year’s convention in Las Vegas drew a near-record 31,259 people to what has become the most popular destination among attendees, as well as 87 aircraft of various sizes that stretched for more than a mile on a closed runway at Henderson Executive Airport.

Because of the event’s size and the need for a nearby airport to hold the static display, only Las Vegas, New Orleans and Orlando are capable of accommodating what is touted as the world’s largest civil aviation exhibition. The convention had been set to rotate between Orlando and New Orleans for the next four years.

Pre-Show Sessions

As has become the norm in recent years, the convention’s informational sessions will begin two days before the official convention opens. Among the sessions on the schedule is the popular and well attended annual tax, regulatory and risk management conference, now in its 14th year.

Formerly known simply as the tax conference, the sessions provide flight department personnel and their accountants and/ or attorneys a basis for understanding how the appropriate tax laws and regulations apply to business aviation operations. The first day will focus on aircraft registration issues, how the FARs affect an operator’s ability to charge for aircraft usage, the Cape Town International Aircraft Registry, accounting and budgeting for aircraft operations, state tax issues and federal excise taxes.

The second day includes information about aircraft depreciation, including tax trades, personal use of business aircraft, SEC and public company reporting requirements, the international regulatory environment and aviation insurance topics. The day ends with a review of leasing and ownership structures and tax implications associated with these structures.

Also scheduled for November 7 and 8 are a professional development program course on communication and decision making and another on corporate aviation ethics; an introduction to human factors workshop for aviation technicians; an inspection authorization renewal course; workshops on management fundamentals for flight departments; emergency response planning; and inspection authorization renewal. November 8 events include an NBAA government affairs panel discussion and meetings of NBAA’s eight standing committees.

The annual meeting begins with an opening general session at 8:30 a.m. on November 9. Exhibits open at 10 a.m. following the ribbon cutting. The static display at Orlando Executive Airport opens at 9 a.m.

Several workshops will take place after the show officially ends. They include human factors for aviation technicians; employing the International Standards for Business Aviation Operations; and a professional development course on applied economics and marketing.

Sprinkled throughout the three-day event will be approximately 70 other informational sessions and seminars.

NBAA Award Winners

The annual gala will feature the Doobie Brothers and the Pointer Sisters, who between them have dozens of chart-topping singles, numerous Grammy Awards and millions of albums sold. The gala honors the winners of the NBAA Meritorious Service to Aviation and John P. “Jack” Doswell awards, as well as the flying safety awards. Edward Stimpson, who recently retired as U.S. representative to the International Civil Aviation Organization, will receive the Meritorious Service to Aviation Award, and Ronald Guerra, president of KaiserAir, will receive the Doswell Award.