Europe’s continued–and in some respects worsening–economic troubles give little grounds for optimism, and yet industry mood ahead of the 13th annual European Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition (EBACE) appeared to be surprisingly bullish. This may be due in part to the success of the show (May 21 to 23) in attracting both exhibitors and visitors from well beyond the cash-strapped continent.
The fact that the show will now be held in the Swiss city for the 13th consecutive year is no accident. In addition to having arguably the most convenient location of any business aviation event worldwide (with direct access from the PalExpo convention center to a static display on the apron of Geneva International Airport), Geneva continues to be an epicenter for private wealth, much of it having its origins well beyond Europe.
As of press time, it remained unclear whether the EBACE 2013 exhibitor count would reach the 491 total seen last year, but a more important measure of the annual event’s success will be whether it can match last year’s record-breaking 2,280 booth spaces booked. The 2012 EBACE drew 12,638 attendees from a remarkable 99 different countries. Increasingly both exhibitors and attendees are congregating from well beyond Europe, including the Middle East, Africa, North America, Asia and the Commonwealth of Independent States.
As usual, all the leading business aircraft manufacturers will be on parade. As of press time no details were available about the anticipated highlights of the static display, but this seemed set to at least match the 60 aircraft available for viewing last year.
Dassault Aviation is set to have a monumental show, with the French airframer preparing for joyful festivities to mark the 50th anniversary of the first flight of the prodigious Falcon series, which started life with the arrival of the Mystère 20 jet in May 1963. Beechcraft will be at EBACE for the first time since its rebirth from bankruptcy protection as an all-turboprop brand.
Environment, Airspace on the Agenda
Once again, EBACE is a joint production between the U.S. National Business Aviation Association and the European Business Aviation Association. As such it will be co-hosted by NBAA president Ed Bolen and EBAA chief executive Fabio Gamba.
The theme for this year’s opening general session is “Business Aviation Making the Difference in Europe,” from which hopefully will emerge a clear vision of how this mode of transportation can help restore the continent’s economic fortunes. Scheduled speakers for the opening general session on May 21 include Matthew Baldwin, air transport director with the European Commission’s directorate general for mobility and transport; ICAO secretary general Raymond Benjamin; and European Economic and Social Committee vice president Jacek Krawczyk.
The unpopular emissions trading scheme will be back on the EBACE agenda, with delegates set to debate whether the European Commission’s willingness to seek global agreement on new market-based measures to cut aircraft emissions will result in a workable compromise in time for the ICAO General Assembly meetings in September and October. For now, flights within the 27-state European Union are still subject to ETS compliance, which continues to be disproportionately burdensome for business aircraft operators. Planned speakers for this conference session include Elina Bardram, head of the EC’s international carbon market unit for aviation and maritime; Kurt Edwards, director general of the International Business Aviation Council; Jane Hupe, chief of ICAO’s environmental unit; Paul Steele, executive director of the Air Transport Action group; and EBAA expert Guy Viselé.
Another conference session will focus on the implementation of the Single European Sky air traffic management reforms and how this affects business aviation. Speakers for this will include Peter Curran, IATA assistant director for infrastructure; Peter Griffiths, chairman of Eurocontrol’s performance review body; Alain Siebert, head of economics and environment with the Sesar Joint Undertaking; and Mark Wilson from NetJets Europe.
To emphasize the broadening global appeal of the EBACE show, the conference program also includes sessions covering developments in the Middle East, Brazil, the U.S., Europe, Asia, Japan, Russia and India. This will include contributions from business aviation associations in these various countries and regions, and there will be a separate session focusing specifically on Russia.
One topic that continues to cause concern around the world is the increasing prevalence of illegal charter flights, which threaten the safety, reputation and competitiveness of business aviation. EBACE will include a special session to address this issue, with speakers including Edmund Buhland, head of approvals and standardization with the European Aviation Safety Agency; Andrea Costantini from the Italian Civil Aviation Authority; Ali Al Naqbi, founding chairman of the Middle East Business Aviation Association; and Kimon Daniilidis, CEO of Greek operator Interjet.
EBACE Information Sessions Spread Knowledge on Many Fronts
Once again, the EBACE show will include varied information and training sessions covering topics as diverse as safety, cabin crew, careers in business aviation, information technology and aircraft transactions.
On Monday, May 20, ahead of the show’s official opening, organizers will present a seminar examining the financial, cultural, legal and transactional issues that affect both buyers and sellers of aircraft. On the same day, there will be a safety workshop providing training aimed at improving human performance, as well as the annual cabin crew symposium organized by NBAA’s flight attendant committee.
May 23, the final day of the show, will feature conference sessions on careers in business aviation and how information technology promises to make the industry more productive. More details of all these EBACE 2013 events can be found at www.ebace.aero.