NBAA 2013 Preview

 - October 1, 2013, 3:30 AM
Organizers expect a packed ramp at Henderson this year, with more than 80 aircraft booked for the static display. (Photo: Mariano Rosales)

Although the name of the NBAA annual meeting and convention has changed to the Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition, the yearly celebration of all things business aviation has been and always will be known as the NBAA show, and those headed to Las Vegas for the October 22 to 24 event universally say they are going to “NBAA.”

Amid relatively stronger although but still timidly growing economic activity, NBAA’s 66th annual convention is shaping up to be a newsworthy show, with at least one major new business jet announcement. (It’s no secret that this is a Dassault Falcon product, especially considering that the invitation to the annual Falcon breakfast is prefaced with the words, “A new bird is coming.” The invite also includes artfully shot photos that show just enough to whet attendees’ appetites but few details of the new jet.)

The static display at Henderson Executive Airport was sold out by the middle of last month, with more than 80 aircraft booked. Another dozen aircraft can be found indoors at the Light Business Aircraft static display in the Las Vegas Convention Center; this year, NBAA isn’t hosting an outdoor display at the Convention Center.

Those planning to fly to Las Vegas for the convention should note that reservations will be required for Henderson. FBO Signature Flight Support at McCarran International is requiring parking reservations, but in any case, a call ahead to Signature or Atlantic Aviation will be a good idea. North Las Vegas Airport is also a good alternative and not far from the action at the Convention Center.

Aircraft manufacturers will be taking many of the static display slots at Henderson. Gulfstream Aerospace is bringing the G650, G550, G450, G280 and G150.

Three new Cessna jets are part of the Wichita manufacturer’s lineup, the new-generation Citation X and Sovereign, the new light M2, as are the CJ4 and the recently certified Grand Caravan EX.

The newest jet at Dassault Falcon’s static display will be a 2000S, and the French manufacturer is also bringing a 900LX and a fly-by-wire 7X.

A resurgent Beechcraft, refocused on its turboprop, piston and special-missions aircraft, will field two new King Air 350is, a King Air 250 and 90GTx, the piston-powered Baron and Bonanza and the T-6C military trainer, AT-6 light attack airplane and a special-mission King Air 350ER. Topping off the display to honor the company’s roots will be a beautiful Staggerwing biplane.

Bombardier’s static display will feature a mockup of the Challenger 350, as well as a Challenger 300 and 605, the new Learjet 75 and a Global 6000.

At the Embraer static display, the Brazilian manufacturer plans to display its fly-by-wire Legacy 500 in its first public U.S. debut, along with a mockup of the Legacy 450. There will also be a new Phenom 100 and 300 and a pre-owned 300 and Legacy 600, and a new Legacy 650 and Lineage 1000.

Event Highlights

Pre-show activities begin with educational sessions such as the day-long inspection authorization renewal class on October 20, as well as NBAA Professional Development Program courses on human resources, emergency response planning, human factors, management fundamentals and tax, regulatory and risk management issues (some are two-day classes). On Monday October 21, NBAA is holding its single-pilot safety standdown. For those who prefer not to hunker down in a classroom, the 17th Annual Chairman’s Charity Classic golf tournament kicks off at noon on October 21 at the Revere Golf Club in Henderson.

At the opening general session on October 22, just before the exhibit hall doors swing open at 10 a.m., NBAA will honor the winner of the annual Al Ueltschi Humanitarian award and welcome special guests Michael Huerta, FAA administrator, and John Pistole, administrator of the Transportation Security Administration. John Snow, chair of CSX and former U.S. Treasury secretary, will deliver a keynote address, as will Missouri congressman and House GA Caucus co-chair Sam Graves.

Meetings and Sessions

A bevy of key issues will be addressed during meetings and educational sessions. The NBAA Safety Town Hall meeting on October 22 will discuss an updated list of the top 10 safety issues, ranging from professionalism (number 1) to airmanship skills (number 3) to the talent pipeline (number 5) and more. The shortage of talent in business aviation is a perennial issue, and will also be addressed separately in a session the same day hosted by experts from Aviation Personnel International, Flight Safety Foundation, Kansas State University and Boeing Business Jets. The important subject of business jet performance will also be covered on October 22, in a session titled Transport Aircraft Performance Planning presented by the FAA’s Coby Johnson and Chris Jones. Other sessions during the NBAA show sure to gather large crowds include Automation Airmanship in the 21st Century, Operating and Doing Business in China, Understanding Fans, Aviation Apps for Tablets and Smartphones and Business Aviation Pilot Training Toolkits–New Resources for an Ongoing Challenge. Loss of control is gaining more attention as a key accident cause and will be addressed during a series of sessions titled Loss of Control Preparation & Prevention–Danger in the Training Gap offered by upset training provider Flight Research (at the Wynn Las Vegas on October 22 and 23. To reserve a seat call 661/824-4136).

Of course there are many more educational sessions, committee meetings and other get-togethers planned during the show, and the best place to see the latest plan is to view the NBAA program schedule at www.nbaa.org/events/bace/2013/schedule/.

This year’s NBAA/CAN Soiree, an Evening With Angels, will be held at the Wynn Las Vegas and features the highly acclaimed Beatles tribute band, The Fab Four. The evening begins with a reception and silent auction and the entertainment includes not only The Fab Four and their note-for-note renditions of Beatles songs from every era of the band’s tenure but also the live auction conducted by famed auctioneer Spanky Assiter of Barrett Jackson Auto Auction fame. The auction benefits the Corporate Angel Network, which arranges free flights on available business aircraft seats for cancer patients needing transport to treatment centers.

News at the Show

This year is a milestone for a few NBAA exhibitors. Pratt & Whitney Canada is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the iconic PT6 engine, Bombardier the 50th year of the first flight of the Learjet 23 and Dassault Falcon the 50th year since first flight of the Mystère 20 prototype. Relatively young aircraft manufacturer Quest delivered its 100th Kodiak utility single-engine turboprop this year.

While we don’t expect major announcements of new flight decks this year, there are noteworthy developments in the avionics field. Elliott Aviation, which recently announced a retrofit program to install Garmin’s G5000 flight deck in the Beechjet, will have a G5000 demo system at its NBAA booth. Elliott will also demo its new Honeywell Primus Epic CDS/R Phase V software and NZ-2010 FMS upgrade for the Hawker 800 series, which will allow pilots to shoot Waas LPV approaches. Elliott is also highlighting G1000 retrofits in King Airs and will have a modified King Air 350 at the static display.

Quite a few new jets feature Garmin’s G3000 and G5000 flight decks, and some will be viewable at the Henderson Executive Airport static display or in the exhibit hall, including the Learjet 75, HondaJet and Cessna Citation X, Sovereign and M2. The Rockwell Collins Pro Line Fusion flight deck is well represented, too, in Gulfstream’s G280, Bombardier’s Global 6000 and Embraer’s Legacy 500.