Another NBAA Convention has come and gone, opened amid optimism and closed with hope. Sometimes over the past couple of years, it seemed like there wasn’t much in between. It was a bit like a watercress sandwich. Two pieces of bread, attractively presented but with little of sustenance in the middle.
For the past two years, the industry has survived on hope and change. So far, there has been little enough change, and in some of the more desperate corners, there ain’t a lot of hope left.
So here we are at the close of another NBAA Convention, this time watching Portugal, Ireland, Greece and Spain (known as the PIGS) circling the drain and threatening to drag the euro down with them. And at the same time, hoping that the expanding economies in Brazil, Russia, India and China (known as the BRIC nations) will continue to grow and produce a market demand that will help keep the business aviation industry afloat. And as Alexander Pope put it, “Hope springs eternal.”
But hope alone is no guarantor of success. It must be accompanied by hard work and the ability to endure, and at NBAA those traits were in plentiful supply, from small start-ups to established companies. And despite tight budgets, business aviation has continued to innovate and introduce new products.
Canadian cabin electronices specialist TrueNorth Avionics introduced its Stylus, a multi-lingual handset that can be programmed to operate in any language, including Arabic, Chinese, Japanese and Russian. General Electric showed up at NBAA and reported progress on its Passport 20 turbofan, scheduled for certification in 2015. The cabin management systems wars heated up further with Mid Continent Controls introducing is Pulse-nHD package, offering end-to-end high definition and easy integration of carry-on entertainment devices such as iPads and iPods. And biggies Honeywell and Rockwell Collins continued to vie for enhanced vision primacy, Honeywell with its head-down EVS/SVS and Rockwell Collins with the addition of synthetic vision to its HUD.
The age of aircraft mega-orders seems to be over, but NBAA nevertheless saw a number of multi-aircraft orders. Brazilian OEM Embraer logged the sale of 13 Legacy 650s to China’s Minsheng Financial Leasing, Hawker Beechcraft took an order from charter operator XOJet for seven Hawker 800XPRs, Minsheng also signed a memorandum of undersanding with Dassault for 10 Falcon 7X and 10 Falcon 200S business jets. And Russian regional jet manufacturer Sukhoi announced the launch of an executive version of its Superjet 100.
It may not have been the best NBAA Convention ever. But it appeared to be one of the busiest. Lupita Ho, principal marketing manager for Rockwell Collins, noted that the company announced its Ascend aircraft information manager last year, “and this year we were swamped with people coming in and asking about it, and we had a lot of people representing end-users asking about the Venue cabin management system. We had a really good show.”
Hope doesn’t guarantee change. But hard work and endurance goes a long way toward success. And there is no shortage of that in an industry that refuses to give up.