Editors' Choice: Olcott, Francois, Humphries forge first EBACE

 - May 28, 2008, 7:21 AM

In both personal and organizational terms, the new European Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition (EBACE)–which successfully debuted in Geneva, last April–was a true international effort. The show is a  joint venture between NBAA and the European Business Aviation Association (EBAA).

In human terms, much of the energy to make a reality of a long-harbored dream came from an American, a Belgian and an Englishman–respectively, NBAA president Jack Olcott, EBAA chief executive Fernand François and EBAA chairman Brian Humphries.

Olcott will mark his 10th anniversary at the helm of NBAA this coming April. Having put his weight behind the impressive growth of the NBAA’s own annual convention and exhibition during the 1990s, he was key to marshalling the U.S. group’s expertise as a major event promoter and organizer of EBACE.

Before joining NBAA, Olcott was the long-serving editor of Business & Commercial Aviation magazine. As a pilot, he has logged more than 7,000 flight hours and a multi-engine ATP license with Learjet, Citation, King Air and Falcon 50 and 900 type ratings.

François has been the full-time leader of EBAA for almost as long, having been appointed back in 1993. The Belgian also has a strong background in aviation publishing as the proprietor of Business Aviation & Regional Transport magazine.

After a Royal Air Force career (in which he flew helicopters), Humphries joined Shell Aircraft and is now managing director of the oil company’s extensive flight department. Having had to oversee complex operations worldwide, he has been an authoritative voice for business aviation as it lobbies hard to overcome the adverse regulatory and operating environment in Europe. In addition to chairing the EBAA board, Humphries is also chairman of the Montreal-based International Business Aviation Council (IBAC), which serves as an increasingly effective crucible for the global business aviation lobby.

All three men have been united in their conviction that the time is right for Europe to have its own high-profile business aviation gathering. The different perspectives and strengths that they brought to the inaugural event last year were largely responsible for the fact that it outstripped almost everyone’s expectations.

Under the stewardship of Olcott, François and Humphries, EBACE has succeeded in being resolutely Eurocentric while benefiting from more than a little American flare for show business. The trio are now busy setting the scene for EBACE 2002, which will be held from May 28 to 30.