At its inaugural staging in April, the European Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition (EBACE) did more than enough to seize a space for itself in the world’s crowded airshow calendar. So next May 28 to 30 EBACE will be returning to its launch venue at Geneva International Airport’s Palais d’Expositions (Palexpo) and is provisionally slated to remain at the Swiss gateway at least through 2004 before other European locations are considered.
The 2001 show drew 3,620 professional visitors to meet 190 exhibitors in Palexpo’s 172,000-sq-ft Hall 7. Using a specially built footbridge (which, through a neat feat of diplomacy on the part of organizers, actually straddled the French-Swiss border), showgoers could step right out onto a static display area to view 31 business aircraft. This was a degree of convenience that has yet to be achieved at NBAA shows, where visitors inevitably need to be bused between downtown convention centers and the airport. Indeed, by holding the show at an airport with excellent scheduled services from throughout the continent, EBACE was able to encourage busy European corporate pilots to at least make a day trip to the event.
EBACE is a 50-50 joint venture of the European Business Aviation Association (EBAA) and NBAA. It has replaced EBAA’s annual meeting, which had historically been held at a hotel near the association’s Brussels, Belgium headquarters each April.
But, insisted NBAA president Jack Olcott in his keynote speech to the European show, “EBACE is not the NBAA Annual Convention moved east. It’s not the EBAA meeting on steroids. It’s a separate event focused on business aviation in Europe.”
European business aviators have much in common with their U.S. cousins in terms of the issues and challenges they face. The EBACE 2001 agenda was packed with intense debate over serious airport access problems and accusations of excessive regulation.
The EBACE agenda continued the strong reputation of EBAA meetings of robust face-to-face dialogue with European regulators. The information sessions on operational and technical issues were also very solid in content and were generally very well attended.
What business aviation in Europe has yet to share with North America is the latter’s explosive growth over the past couple of decades. Through good times and bad, the number of turbine aircraft registered in Europe has remained fairly stagnant at around the 2,000-unit mark. However, this figure does not fairly reflect a marked increase in the average size of aircraft on European registers or the fact that activity levels (including growing numbers of aircraft visiting from other continents) have been rising.
Olcott and EBAA chief executive Fernand François are convinced that the growth of the European bizav fleet will start to pick up once European companies truly buy into the concept of a corporate aircraft as an indispensable business tool. It is their contention that EBACE is an important medium for spreading this message.
For all this, EBACE has yet to rival the annual NBAA shows in the hot news stakes. The only major order announced was the sale of 50 Dassault Falcon 2000EX twinjets (25 firm and 25 optioned–worth up to $1 billion) to Executive Jet’s NetJets Europe fractional-ownership program. The French manufacturer also unveiled a mockup of its new EASy cockpit but chose to remain tight-lipped about the new FNX business jet, which was subsequently announced at June’s Paris Air Show.
Among the aircraft exhibited on the static line were a Boeing Business Jet, a Gulfstream V and GIV-SP, an MD Helicopters MD 900 and a corporate-configured Fairchild Dornier 328JET. Shown for the first time anywhere was Raytheon’s Hawker 800XP mockup with Rockwell Collins Pro Line 21 avionics. Other mockups gracing the Geneva aisles were Eurocopter’s new EC 155 and the Airbus Corporate Jetliner. Bombardier was a surprise omission from the EBACE starting lineup, although it did host the show’s press facilities at the Palexpo convention center.
NBAA members can get more information about the EBACE 2002 event by contacting Kathleen Blouin, who heads up NBAA’s EBACE USA office. Her counterpart in Europe is EBAA’s Darcy Christiansen. Exhibit space for the European show is priced at $2,200 for each three-meter (just over 32 sq ft) booth unit.
The May dates for the 2002 event place EBACE in the same month as Germany’s ILA airshow at Berlin Schonefeld International Airport and just two months prior to the UK’s Farnborough International Airshow. The later date will, however, avoid the inconvenience of a clash with the Easter holiday, which caused no small degree of aggravation to exhibitors this year.